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Regional News of Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Source: GNA

200 communities in Oti freed from open defecation

Participants at a closeout meeting of Non-Governmental Global Communities in Dambai Participants at a closeout meeting of Non-Governmental Global Communities in Dambai

USAID’s five-year Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Health (W4H) project is folding up in the Oti Region after it helped more than 220 communities to achieve open defecation free status.

Non-Governmental Global Communities implemented the project from 2015 in the Nkwanta South Municipality, the Nkwanta North District and the Krachi East Municipality.

The NGO with the support of a trained network of leaders helped to effect behavioural change in sanitation, leading to the extension of the project for a year.

The leaders led an effort to increase household latrine access and helped construct thousands of latrines during the project, which ends in September 2021.

Major partners in behavioural change, including the Environmental Health, Community Development and Education services were trained and supported in behavioural change communication while over 1000 girls and their parents were educated on menstrual health management.

In the area of safe water access, the WASH for Health project distributed close to a hundred water supply systems within the three districts and municipalities, a multi-million dollar undertaking that provided safe water to schools and health centres.

The NGO, at a closeout meeting in Dambai, reported a total of 227 ODF communities and a total of 7,377 household latrines constructed in the project districts.

A total of 40 institutional latrines and water facilities were constructed for schools and health facilities in the implementing districts.

Global Communities became the only NGO operating in the WASH sector in the Nkwanta North Municipality and succeeded in sending 87 percent of communities there to ODF statuses.

The successes resulted in an exponential rise in the rankings of the beneficiary districts on the national ODF league table.

Mr James Lomotey, the Regional Coordinator for the project, said many gains were achieved and urged the communities to make the most of the behaviour change interventions, which remained tied to the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He maintained that local leadership support was the major challenge to behaviour change but said things improved throughout the project.

“I believe that if these gains are sustained we should be able to get a lot from the Oti Region as a whole,” Mr Lomotey said, adding that the project delivered enough technical support to the necessary stakeholder units.

“The various communities have done so well and they are commended for all that they’ve done for themselves, seeing the need to improve safe disposal of animal and human faeces, to sustain handwashing behaviour, especially in this covid era and also properly storing and retrieving their drinking water.

“They should sustain all these. Challenges would come, but I believe that with all that they are doing, they will be able to sustain these behaviours in their households and even to extend it to other communities that have not been able to benefit from the project,” the Coordinator stated.

Mr Andrew Nawil, Oti Regional Coordinating Director, said the Region had long suffered neglect and, therefore, appreciated the help of Global Communities and the USAID.

He said water and sanitation persisted as the main challenge facing the Region, leading to a rise in typhoid cases, management of which had been a daunting situation for the Assemblies.

“Having Global Communities partnering with the USAID to operate in three districts in our Region is a welcome gesture and we want to extend our gratitude to these partner agencies for doing a yeo man’s job to help minimize problems of sanitation in the Region.

“I also want to express our gratitude to the communities within which these agencies have operated for the utmost support. Looking at the achievements that have been made within these five years of operation, I must say that the Region has come a long way.

“Although we still have a lot of incidence of sanitation-related problems in the Region, I believe the agencies setting this in motion would encourage the communities to take the mantle on their own to address the issues of sanitation to improve their lives and living standards,” Mr Nawil said.

The Coordinating Director appealed for island communities to also be made beneficiaries of the project, saying they faced “disgusting sanitation situations”.

“Our main challenge has been sanitation and the issues of sanitation are so damning and are a major challenge that must be addressed.

“Typhoid is the most prevalent disease in the Municipality. Almost everyone entering for the first time is welcomed by typhoid. Our water is very bad.

Sybil Boison, Regional Environmental Health Officer, said districts not added to the just-ended project continued to fallow in sanitation-related challenges and that collaboration with partners such as the NGO in those areas was crucial.

She said the Environmental Health Department would keep the beneficiary communities within the ODF success bracket.

Stakeholders at the closeout meeting appealed for a focus on island communities.

Citations were awarded to individuals and entities with exceptional commitment to the project.

Global Communities has so far reached 35 Municipalities and Districts across 10 Regions with the WASH for Health project, which involved over 1,700 communities.

Its sustainability approach facilitated affordable household latrine construction that leveraged a partnership with major material producers, and also introduced innovative latrine technologies.

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