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Children's voices heard on World Toilet Day

© UNICEFGhana/2013/Baddoo
Rebecca Obeng Kyere speaks on behalf of the children of Ghana at World Toilet Day celebrations in Accra.

By OFFEIBEA BADDOO

ACCRA, Ghana, 19 November 2013 – Reading from a dais that was too high for her, six year old Rebecca Obeng Kyere read a three page long statement on behalf of the children of Ghana.  Clearly articulating the expectation of her peers with regard to good sanitation, she said that children often could not wait at the long toilet queues when it became urgent to use the toilet so they often succumbed to other alternatives – open defecation. That alternative she said according to article 24 of the Convention on the Right of the Child, denied them their right to good health. 

Rebecca’s statements as well as poetry recitals and dance drama by children were some of the activities held at the national level to bring awareness to Ghana’s dire sanitation situation at the commemoration of the World’s Toilet Day. The theme for the commemoration was, “An Open defecation free Ghana in my life time.”

The Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Baaba Jamal, who was the Guest of Honour accepted the statement from the children and in his key note address acknowledged children as the key agents for change if Ghana would make any progress in raising the level of sanitation in the country. The Minister borrowed from Rebecca’s statement when he said even if there was no Millennium Development Goal 7 to aspire to, Ghana has a responsibility to improve sanitation and good health for everyone.
Ghana is unlikely to meet MGD 7 as only 15% of the population has access to good sanitation. Directly related to poor sanitation, is the over 4000 children less than five years old who die needlessly as a result of diarrhoea.  The consequences of poor water and sanitation in Ghana also cost the country the equivalent of 1.6 percent of national GDP. The Minister acknowledged activities such as Community led Total Sanitation (CLTS) as one of the key interventions that could help the country meet its sanitation needs. As such the Government according to the Minister has committed to support the scaling up of the implementation of CLTS from five regions to the rest of the country.

Representatives of the traditional council, religious bodies and development partners in Ghana who attended the function in various solidarity messages, committed through messages and pledges to support the government’s drive to improve sanitation and also end Open defecation in Ghana. 

The Resident Coordinator’s speech congratulated Ghana for embracing initiatives to speed up progress towards MDG 7, and also acknowledged the results of UNICEF’s investments in CLTS. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Ghana to strengthen capacity to implement CLTS. Currently over 922 communities are open defecation free (ODF) and there are expectations that entire districts will become ODF in 2014 using the Rural Sanitation Model and Scaling Up Strategy.

 

 
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