The very common menace of open defecation in Ghana, commonly known as “free ranging”, has been one of the most difficult societal ills to put an end to!
The Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly of the Western Region has begun a metro-wide fight against open defecation. The operation this week, saw the arrest of 21 persons by a joint task force of Police personnel and Environmental Health Officers for openly defecating at unauthorized spaces within the metropolis.
The offenders were arrested in two separate operations at Amanful in Takoradi (9) and Ekuase in Sekondi (13).
According to Citi News reports, the first operation at Takoradi Amanful, saw the arrest of 9 persons comprising 8 males and a female. According to Public Relations Officer of the STMA, John Laste, who spoke to Citi News on the issue, “seven of them were charged and fined Ghc288 each which they paid before they were freed. One was given a spot fine during the arrest which he paid, but the other absconded, and a bench warrant is issued for his arrest. ”
Mr. Laste said some of the arrested persons are finding it difficult to pay and they will be charged if they fail to pay within the specified period.
He reminded landlords and landladies in the metro that “it is their responsibility to provide places of convenience in their homes to their tenants”, saying that the STMA is determined to tackle the menace in all the three Sub Metros to ensure sanity and cleanliness.
Menace of Open Defecation in Ghana
The issue of open defecation is one of the old time problems that has bedeviled the Ghanaian society for generations. The practice is so old and rampant that it is a normal way of life for a great percentage of the country’s population, especially in the Northern parts of Ghana where household toilet facilities are considered completely NOT necessary!
As at 2015, about 5 million Ghanaians were reported as not having access to any kind of toilet facility. 20 million were also said to be living under poor sanitary conditions. It was these records that landed Ghana 2nd place in the 2015 list of most openly defecating countries in Africa, and 7th position in the World List of Filth Infested Countries!
Meanwhile, government has not seized to make efforts time and again to see how this deplorable attitude of Ghanaians could be put to a stop, or at least, reduced to its barest minimum.
Over the years, a lot sensitization programmes have been conducted through various means across the country to educated people on the untold health risks of illicit disposal of excreta. Health experts have made it clear that there is a direct correlation between open defecation and epidemic diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and the likes. Moreover, the availability of potable drinking water is drastically affected by the unfortunate but very common practice.
So many government and private groups and organisations have also been making significant contributions towards curbing the menace. One of such agencies is Global Communities, a non-governmental organization who are voluntarily offering support for landlords to have toilets.
However, all these measures have done very little or close to nothing in bringing closure to the health risking practice of open defecation in Ghana. The Chief Officer at the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Unit of UNICEF Ghana, David Duncan, in 2016 noted that only 1% progress was made at eliminating open defecation in Ghana in the last 25 years. This he said, means it would take the country about 500 years to end the menace if nothing is done about the current progress rate.
Well, from the latest developments, it appears the government is taking the fight against open defecation to a whole new level – force! Who knows, it may soon take a violent turn where soldiers will be deployed to watch over “free ranging” sites., as is currently the case with the anti-galamsey fight.
Whatever be the case, just beware! For to be forewarned, is to be forearmed!!!