As a step towards encouraging children to advocate good sanitation and open defecation free country, World Vision Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation in partnership with the Media Coalition against Open Defecation has launched the "Schools Sanitation Solution" Challenge.
The Challenge, launched on Thursday in Accra, calls on participants to write an open letter to the President of the Republic and to identify a major sanitation problem in their schools or communities.
They are to describe how the problem is adversely affecting teaching and learning and discuss proposals for addressing it in a sustainable manner.
It is open to all school children nationwide between Primary four and Junior High School two.
The contest, expected to run between, October 1,2019 to September 30, 2020, would have 10 participants shortlisted and rewarded with prizes including; plaques, cash prizes, mobile phone tablets, and certificates.
The overall winner would be unveiled as a "Child Sanitation Ambassador" and supported to spearhead sanitation development projects.
Mr Yaw Atta Arhin, the WASH Technical Coordinator, World Vision Ghana, said the objective for the challenge was to influence children to become sanitation conscious and agents of change.
Other objectives were to challenge children to co-create sustainable solutions to local sanitation challenges, advocate the removal of barriers and access to safe water and improved sanitation in schools.
Mr Arhin explained that the contest was another step to achieve World Vision's aim of creating a conducive school environment for teaching and learning with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects.
Improving WASH in schools, he said, would reduce absenteeism and truancy, reduce risk of infections and improve menstrual hygiene management.
He said WaterAid report in 2014, 95 per cent of menstruating school girls miss school when there is no clean toilet facilities in schools, a situation he said was bad.
Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, the Patron of MCODe, who chaired the launch, said a recent sanitation challenge held in some Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies made the people conscious of proper sanitation especially liquid waste management, hence the need to re-introduce more of such initiatives.
She urged children to develop interest in promoting good sanitation practices, saying: "When Ghana gets its sanitation right, all other things would be right."
Ms Ellen Gyekye, the Programme Officer of the School Health Education Programme Unit, Ghana Education Service, said some children were motivated to attend school because of access to improved water, toilet and hand washing facilities.
She said although some schools had improved toilet facilities, they were poorly maintained and advised authorities to take care of the facilities.
She encouraged children, especially those who would contest in the challenge, to develop practical solutions to improve WASH in schools and communities.