The Northern Region chapter of the Media Coalition against Open Defecation (M-CODe) has been launched in Tamale to champion the advocacy and campaign against open defecation in the northern region.
The team constitutes practicing journalists from both electronic and print media institutions who voluntarily indicated their resolve to partner with other stakeholders to eliminate the menace.
Convener of M-CODe, Mr. Emmanuel Addai, said the coalition was formed in 2018 with the objective of building the capacity of the media to contribute to the campaign against open defecation in the country.
He noted the idea was inspired by the alarming situation of open defecation in Ghana and facilitated by World Vision International (WVI). Statistics shows that some 6million Ghanaians defecate outside indiscriminately without using any toilet facility on daily basis in Ghana.
Mr. Addai believes the practice has serious health implications and also undermine the dignity of the people.
“As a country, it affects tourism and creates all sort of illnesses; so we felt there was the need to bring the media together, there was already a corps of passionate Journalists or reporters who were always talking about open defecation in the country but they were doing so on individual basis, so we thought why not bring these people together so that we can develop a common voice to pursue a common agenda which will now get the needed attention than individuals trying to do their own stories on open defecation.
So essentially our work as a coalition is to get the authorities on their toes, not only the political authority but everybody who is an authority, all leaders – it includes institutional heads, family heads, landlords, they are all leaders who have to act to ensure there is toilet where it is supposed to be for people to use and stop open defecation and to also contribute to dialogue in developing essential mechanisms or systems and institutions in place and to prevail on the authorities to get these things to end the menace” he added.
Addressing the M-CODe Regional members and other stakeholders, the Northern Region Operations Manager of World Vision International (WVI), Mr. Timothy Aman-Abey Akanpabadai said the work of the coalition should help to transform the lives of everyone in the society.
He particularly urged the government and other stakeholders to pay attention to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) situation at schools and health facilities, saying, “This is necessary to create conducive environment for quality education and healthcare delivery since nobody goes to the school or the health facility and will free himself or herself.”
He added the practice of open defecation is very common among school pupils because they do not have WASH facilities in the school and the situation is the same at the health facilities.
However, he indicated despite the increasing the political and public interest and greater attention in recent times, progress on open defecation has been painfully slow, arguing further that, “If we want to quantify the amount of money that has gone into open defecation; if it had been eradicating hunger, we would’ve succeeded.
But it so happens that this is a behavior change and the people are used to their normal way of going to dispose their waste and when we are advocating that people should change this behavior pattern, it becomes a worrisome issue because you are trying to force me to change a normal way to inconvenience myself which is very worrisome” he added.
He further commended the journalists for showing interest and determination to partner with the civil society organizations to fight the canker in Ghana.