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Poverty is key for Open Defecation-GWJN Report

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The Ghana WASH Journalists Network (GWJN) report as part of its efforts to help eradicate open defaecation and achieve the sanitation targets under Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals has revealed that, poverty is a major driver of open defaecation in Ghana. The report is based on research conducted in four regions where open defecation is seriously ongoing.

This report was disclosed during the official launch of the Ghana WASH Journalists Network (GWJN) Documentary on the State of Open Defaecation and Access to Improved Sanitation in Ghana held in Accra.

The Documentary seeks to unearth the underlying factors that make it difficult for Ghanaians to access improved sanitation, and why about 17 .7 percent of the population resort to open defaecation.

The documentary, produced through collaborative efforts within the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector, highlights some critical issues that warrant public attention and action.

The mission of GWJN is to use their reporting skills to tell relevant stories in the WASH sector to generate the needed discussions for positive responses from duty bearers and bring the necessary interventions.

The GWJN Coordinator, Mr. Justice Lee Adoboe in his welcome address stated, “Various themes come to the fore throughout the half-hour piece, but the most pronounced is poverty, which has been one of the major barriers to access in many other public goods. Unfortunately, poverty is also a major driver of open defaecation which is a major blot on our national conscience”.

Water and Sanitation he mentioned are two critical factors to health and well-being. According to him, data has shown that, where the coverage of basic water has improved to about 88 percent according to the 2021 Housing and Population Census, households with improved sanitation stood at 25 percent with a strong correlation between access to improved household toilets and the level of open defaecation.

“The slow pace of improvement in the access to sanitation (25 percent) compared to that of – water (88 percent) can only point to stronger underlying factors hampering access to improved sanitation in the country. ”

Open defecation refers to the practise of defecating in fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water, shores or other open spaces.

Open defecation can pollute the environment and cause health problems and diseases. High levels of open defecation are linked to high child mortality, poor nutrition, poverty, and large disparities between rich and poor.

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