In spite of initial frustrations with achieving open defecation-free (ODF) communities in the Central Region, Mary Akpalu and Cornelius Semey refused to be discouraged and seem to have discovered the right key to unlock positive results.
As at 2016, the entire Central Region had no record of an open defecation-free community even though the region had been implementing the Community-led Total Sanitation Approach since 2012. In the Abura Asebu Kwamankese (AAK) District, a couple of communities had demonstrated interest in the ‘stop open defecation’ message through the CLTS approach as early as 2013 and had began a process to construct latrines at home. However, most of these communities seemed not to be in a hurry to complete their latrines, use them and stop open defecation.
Overwhelmed with always being perceived as among the least progressive at various national sanitation forums in terms of turning communities ODF, Cornelius and Mary made a vow to turn things around. Operating from different Area Councils (Asebu and Abakrampa), they both decided not to over-rely on project funds which were never enough and timely. They move to the field with or without funds. They would physically support weaker or hesitant households in construction just to inspire others to sit up. They identify other non-sanitation-related issues that indirectly affect the sanitation programme and support them to seek redress just to pave way for progress. Against the traditional appetite for concrete superstructures among households in the district, they managed to convince one community to use locally available materials to complete their latrines.
They were sometimes compelled to resort to prosecution to scare people into action. In the process, within about 18 months, about 100 households in the Asebu Area Council were able to construct latrines, while the Abakrampa Area Council recorded more than 300 household latrines. Inn the process, four communities – Apaakrom, Krofofordo, Okwesiekrom and Bedukrom – have also been declared ODF while five were also potentially ODF within the next three months as at May 2018.