Gambia makes landmark commitment to end open defecation by 2020

Gambia wants to become first West African country to eradicate open defecation

Abdoulie Sey
UNICEF staff stands beside a banner bearing the pledges of government and partners to end open defecation
UNICEF Gambia/2020/ASey
02 March 2020

The Vice President Dr Isatou Touray on Friday 24th January 2020 led the signing of a declaration to end open defecation in The Gambia. The pledge was also signed by staff and the country representative of UNICEF The Gambia, Sandra Lattouf, the honourable ministers of Health and the Environment, Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh and Lamin B Dibba, respectively, the Speaker of the Children’s National Assembly, Sarata Ceesay, and several other government officials and partners.

The historic pledge came two days after The Gambia Government and UN partners launched the Decade of Action in The Gambia – a 10-year period of accelerated effort and stronger action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The declaration also shows the government’s commitment to achieve SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation. 
 

Vice President of The Gambia speaks at ODF consultative meeting
UNICEF Gambia/2020/ASey

“I believe it is time for all of us to collectively stand against open defecation in this country in our various capacities,” Vice President Dr Isatou Touray said. “All of us here should speak to the rest of the Gambians and non-Gambians with a unified voice, that… sanitation for all is achievable.”

The landmark event took place at the national Consultative Meeting to End Open Defecation in The Gambia, a major convergence of stakeholders in Kololi.

As a key partner in the national drive to end open defecation in The Gambia, UNICEF, in recent years, has invested huge amounts of resources to support the government in this endeavour.

UNICEF Gambia country representative speaks at ODF consultative meeting
UNICEF Gambia/2020/ASey

“At UNICEF, we strongly believe in partnership,” said Sandra Lattouf, UNICEF The Gambia Country Representative. “A great example of such partnership is our work on open defecation. 99 per cent of the Gambian population is open defecation free. This is a major achievement that we should all celebrate.”

The UNICEF Country Representative called for broader partnership, including the active participation of the private sector and local communities, to end open defecation in The Gambia. She warned that the practice has serious health and economic implications for children and their families.

Ms Lattouf also hailed the high-level commitment of The Gambia Government to end open defecation and called for stronger government action to end open defecation in 2020.

These are major milestones that we all celebrate together. But as we celebrate, let us not lose sight of the one percent that is still practicing open defecation

Sandra Lattouf, UNICEF The Gambia Country Representative

The Hon. Minister of Health Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh and the Speaker of the Children’s National Assembly of The Gambia, Sarata Ceesay applauded UNICEF for supporting the country’s open defecation free agenda and urged other partners to support the cause.

The government wants to achieve 100 per cent open defecation free status by 2020, a feat that could see The Gambia emerge as the first to achieve such a milestone in West Africa. UNICEF The Gambia will continue to support the government to achieve this major milestone.