The need to sensitize and involve the youth in any effort aimed at improving sanitation in the country especially at the community level dominated discussions at the Regional Level Learning Alliance Platform (RLLAP) held in Tamale in the Northern Region. Stakeholders were unanimous on the urgent need for the youth to be sensitized and targeted with the appropriate behaviour change messages to understand the need and importance of improved sanitation in their communities and that such sensetisation activities should be interlaced with fun and educational activities such as; games and quiz competitions to make its assimilation easier.
Stakeholders further advocated the active involvement and participation of opinion leaders such as; Traditional leaders, Political party leaders, Youth Groups, Women groups, Teachers, Nurses and socially excluded groups such as the physically challenged
Addressing stakeholders at the Regional Level Learning Alliance Platform (RLLAP) meeting in Tamale,the Chief Director of the Northern Regional Coordinating Council (NRCC) Mr. Alhassan Issahaku said improved sanitation was crucial to the Northern Region especially when the region had declared 2017 as a year to end Open Defecation. According to Mr. Issahaku, Open Defecation was a huge challenge the region was addressing and that the NRCC had accepted the challenge based on the fact that the region recognized that sanitation was key in the NRCC’s efforts to develop the region.
The NRCC Chief Director indicated further that, the challenge to address the sanitation situation in the region was daunting, but that in itself was a challenge that required that they worked around the clock to galvanize the needed resources, both human and financial to improve the sanitation situation in the Northern Region. He said the role of the youth in addressing the sanitation challenge in the region, especially in the communities was critical and therefore called on all implementing partners in the region to actively involve the youth in activities aimed at ensuring very clean and hygienic environment. Mr. Issahaku advised WASH sector actors in the region to share information and workable outcomes, learn from each other the best practices and upscale them in order to help improve rural sanitation across the various districts in the region.
Mr. Alhassan Issahaku expressed gratitude to UNICEF and partners in the region for their continued support for the Northern Region in the area of sanitation and assured that the NRCC would put their shoulders to the wheel to ensure that the sanitation challenges the region was faced were addressed.
Giving an overview of the Rural Sanitation Operational Research, Mr. Nail Boot of UNICEF said the operational research was focused on the baseline and annual assessment of the enabling environment/local Government aimed at measuring sanitation enterprises actively selling products to householders, the percentage of households with HWWS facility at the household, the percentage of households using an improved latrine at the household level, Districts declared ODF, results which are sustained over the research period and the number of households having sanitation financing options.
Mr. Nii Nodal Obodaiof MAPLE Consult in a presentation on rural sanitation and the operational research, highlighted the key research questions and the methodology used in the research which tried to elicit from respondents how Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) could be effective in improving rural sanitation and the extent to which improved enabling environment will lead to achievement of rural sanitation results. Participants were also taken through past and current implementation approaches to rural sanitation in Ghana especially in the Northern Region focusing on the Demand side and supply side approaches. His presentation also laid bare key strategies used by key partners in the researched areas and barriers that could impede the process of achieving and accelerating improved rural sanitation across the country.
The Sanitation Lead of IRC Ghana, Mr. Kwame Asiedu Asubonteng explained to participants the key enabling environment factors at the district level that could drive improved rural sanitation in the country if adopted and implemented. Mr. Asiedu Asubonteng mentioned the following as key enabling factors for improved sanitation at the rural level:
- The commitment and will of leadership at the local level to ensure that sanitation is prioritized is a key enabling and motivating factor for frontline staff to give up their best.
- Ownership of CLTS by the Environmental Health Unit (EHU-DEHO) and District Assembly (DA-DCD) is critical for spur up sanitation and staff.
- Inclusion of more senior staff on follow-up field visits to post triggered communities will motivate stakeholders to sustain the gains chalked.
- Availability and early release of funds for sanitation activities especially for monitoring and verification visits will do the trick in ensuring continuous and regular monitoring visits to communities more so the post-triggered communities to ensure they do not relapse.
- The use of innovative advocacy, locally tailored ways of working with communities, effective use of local media and/or engaging local leaders such as traditional leaders, religious leaders have also been identified as key enabling factor to contribute towards enhancing rural sanitation.