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Journalists across the country have been tasked to refocus their lenses on Open Defecation (OD) issues in order to sustain the gains made in the sanitation sector.

Speaking at a media summit on Open Defecation in Accra, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) focal person on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Lorreta Roberts, said journalists need to break away from the normal way of reporting on open defecation issues to finding alternative interesting ways of packaging stories that would foster the elimination of open defecation by 2030.

“While we look at the negative effects, we can also focus on the success stories instead of naming and shaming to show those people who think it cannot be done that it is possible to have an open defecation free community,” she said.

Ms. Roberts mentioned that education on open defecation should be intensified in basic schools since that will be the surest way to incorporate sanitation values into the future generation to end the shameful practice.

According to the national Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2015 report, 19% of the population practice open defecation; in other words, one out of six Ghanaians do not have a place of convenience and therefore defecate in the open.

Although the practice is evident in every region, it is very common in the three northern regions.

The report further stated that 3,600 children die annually in Ghana from sanitation related ailments, with the country losing $79 million annually to the practice.

OD Media Summit

The one-day summit organized by World Vision Ghana in Accra brought together journalists from the various media houses, editors as well as producers of radio and television programmes to rekindle their interest in the issue.

It was also to deliberate on core implementation actions that can help Ghana eliminate open defecation by 2030.

In his welcome address, National Director of World Vision, Dickens Thunde, said his outfit is ready to forge strategic partnerships and review innovative proposals that will significantly reduce open defecation and promote access to improved sanitation.

According to him, Ghana has done very well regarding the provision of water; however, the same cannot be said about sanitation, hence there is the need to work towards improving the situation.

In a solidarity message delivered by the Executive Secretary of the Environmental Service Providers Association (ESPA), Ama Ofori Antwi, she lamented that “sanitation is our business and we wholeheartedly support any programme aligned to our vision of providing a sustainable environmental sanitation for Ghana. The media is all powerful, wielding the clout to tell the sanitation story in a way that is compelling and influential.”

She bemoaned that, globally, Ghana is ranked poorly even among its peers, putting a blot on its image, which must be reversed at all cost.

“We cannot afford to lose the sanitation battle because it is costly on our health, finances, and even dignity,” she stressed.
Source: Daily Guide

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