The fight to ensure increased access to basic sanitation among residents of the Northern Region is yielding positive results as more communities have attained Open Defecation Free (ODF) status in the region.
Out of a total of 4,433 communities in the region, 2,005 have attained ODF status while the remaining 2,562 continue to practise Open Defecation (OD) or defecate in the open as they do not have access to latrines.
This means that out of the total population of 2,980,017 in the region, 708,461 live in ODF communities while majority constituting 2,271,556 live in OD communities.
Those were the results of the sixth Open Defecation League Table launched in Tamale on Monday as part of efforts to improve basic sanitation in the region.
The Open Defecation League Table is an initiative of the Northern Regional Coordinating Council, Regional Inter-agency Coordinating Committee on Sanitation, and Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit, which is supported by a host of civil society organisations including the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
It assesses access to basic sanitation practices among residents and ranks the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in that regard.
According to the ODF League Table, there are 364,139 total households in the region while total household latrines in the region stood at 122,780 and total number of hand washing facilities in ODF communities also stood at 60,609.
Tatali-Sangule District came first followed by East Mamprusi Municipality and Sawla/Tuna/Kalba District as assemblies with the least percentage of people, who practised OD, and the highest number of people living in ODF communities.
Nanton District, Tamale Metro, North Gonja, West Gonja, and Bole Districts, and Sagnarigu Municipality in that order were among the assemblies with the highest percentage of their residents practising OD or defecate in the open.
Mr Salifu Saeed, the Northern Regional Minister, who spoke during the launch of the sixth Open Defaecation League Table, called on all households in the Tamale Metropolitan area to construct toilets in line with the Assembly’s directive to end OD in the area within the next four months.
Mr Saeed also urged all MMDAs to gazette their by-laws on sanitation, sensitise their residents on the laws and enforce them to promote sanitation.
Madam Gloria Nyam Gyang, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist at UNICEF Field Office in Tamale, said the results of the Open Defecation League Table showed that the fight for improved sanitation practices was alive calling on all to sustain the momentum and the gains to promote best sanitation practices in the communities.
Meanwhile, awards were given to best performing Assemblies among other individuals described as community champions and leaders in ODF for their roles to ensure ODF society.