By: WASH R&E “Media” Network – World Toilet Day was celebrated in Bong County by a gathering of 8 county teams who are working with communities to become Open Defecation Free (ODF). These communities take responsibility for their own sanitation and hygiene with the guidance of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and NGO implementing partners. Nearly 200 communities have become ODF in the past year by their own actions through community-led total sanitation (CLTS) approach.
Global Communities (formerly CHF International) has been implementing a USAID funded CLTS program (IWASH) in Bong, Nimba, and Lofa Counties. They organized for the CLTS teams from Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and Grand Bassa to join in an experience sharing workshop in Gbarnga. The Ministry of Health’s National Technical Coordinating Unit for CLTS cosponsored the event.
In addition to experience sharing and marches in the streets of Gbarnga on Tuesday, there were tours of ODF communities, and an official event with speakers including officials from Bong County, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare’s Director of Environmental Health, and IWASH leadership.
Making brief remarks at the program the IWASH Chief of Party Liberia, Piet Devries said that more than 150 communities have become ODF in Bong, Nimba, and Lofa counties in the last year alone. The program is moving fast every month with the help of Natural Leader Networks. Natural Leaders are the people in every community that become passionate about CLTS and encourage their neighbours to take action.
He lauded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her encouragement of “A Promise Renewed”, to reduce child mortality. Communities that become Open Defecation Free, he said, are keeping this promise by reducing child mortality from diarrheal disease.
Also making remarks at World Toilet Day celebrations, was the Assistant Development Superintendent of Bong County, Anthony Sheriff who called on other Communities to follow suit of those already Open Defecation Free.
Superintendent Sheriff noted, in the absence of good sanitary environment, the Country recovery agenda will not be achieved as citizens will continue to spend much of their income in the hospitals instead of infrastructures which according to him, will hinder the Country’s progress.
The Bong County Assistant Development Superintendent also used the occasion to thank CHF International for the initiative in restoring dignity to the people of his county.
He urged other communities and towns to embrace CLTS during the triggering programs to enable them form part of the emerging society from poor sanitations to good health system delivery which is one of the cardinals of preserving a long life.
This year’s World Toilet Day in Bong County started with a grand parade through the principal Streets of Gbarnga City, with another parade in from Guayanta town to Gborpoyuan town where the indoor program was held.
The day long celebrations ware climaxed by football match in Gborpoyuan town between Natural Leaders and IWASH Team intended to bring together those who were involved in the CLTS Program to bring communities Open Defecation Free.
At the end of the day’s activities, participants reiterated their commitment to keeping the promise by being more active in triggering while on the other hand the communities dwellers also promised to always keep their surroundings clean from open defecation and other sanitations problems.