The Upper West Regional Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on sanitation (RICCS) has expressed its readiness to work harder to ensure that the region achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status by the end of 2021 to mark World Toilet day on November 19.
"The Upper West Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), the RICCS, the Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs), Civil Society Organisations in the Sanitation sector and development partners have set the end of 2021 to achieve a region wide ODF status."
Mr Agambire Alhassan Inusah, the Upper West Regional Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officer at the Environmental Health and Sanitation Department told the Ghana News Agency that about 713 communities out of a total of 1,167 in the region were ODF with 193 ODF in 2019.
He advised the public to shun open defecation and to construct household latrines since it was dignifying to own and use a household toilet rather than defecating in the open.
The M&E officer noted that achieving for the region, wide ODF target depended on the willingness of the MDAs to set, gazette and implement by-laws on sanitation o compel the people to comply.
November 19 is set aside by the United Nations (UN) to, among other things, celebrate the achievement made in fighting Open Defecation and to drum home the need for the public to construct and use household latrines.
This year's event is on the theme: "Leaving no one behind" which was in consonance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda of ensuring inclusive development.
The RICCS and its partners such as the UNICEF had been observing the WTD over the years and scheduled to commemorate this year's edition at Jirapa in the Jirapa Municipality in collaboration with the Jirapa Municipal Assembly.
Mr Inusah observed that as part of activities to mark the WTD, the RICCS organised a quiz competition among five basic schools in the Jirapa Municipality to assess the knowledge of the school children on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions.
He said the RICCS recognised children as key components of the WASH campaign as they were the most affected in the event of sanitation related diseases.
Other activities included; exhibition on sanitation products such as hand washing facilities and prototype of toilet facilities in order to market healthy sanitation practices as well as the launch of the fourth edition of the Regional ODF League Table.
Mr Inusah noted that the WTD event would also see the deserving districts, individuals and institutions being recognised for their contribution towards the ODF campaign.
A micro-finance institution would be present to educate the public on how to access loan facilities to construct household toilets.
He was confident that if government supported sanitation entrepreneurs like Toilet Engineers and sanitation Services, a lot of Ghanaians would own decent toilets, which would help reduce open defecation in the country.
Mr Inusah said Toilet Engineers, expert in Bio Digester Toilets, were ready to partner any organisation and government to train local artisans to build toilets across the country under the one household one toilet policy.