- Committed and supportive district management
- Welcoming communities
- Reward systems
- Effective and selfless CLTS team
- Electoral Area ODf League Table
- Working with chiefs and opinion leaders
- 14 ODF communities in 2016
- 162 ODF communities as at October 2018
- Only 10 communities left
- District with the highest number of ODF communities in Ghana
Tatale Sanguli District in contention for 1st district-wide ODF in Ghana
From only 14 open defecation-free (ODF) communities as at August 2016, out of the 172 communities in the Tatale Sanguli District, 162 had been officially declared (ODF as at the end of October, 2018). This puts the district on top of all others in the country in terms of the number of ODF communities. In addition, Tatale Sanguli becomes one of only two (the other one being Nandom) districts that are closest to becoming ODF within a matter of weeks.
“There is no magic about our success; it’s all about hard work from all parties involved. We have highly committed DCE and management staff, dedicated District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO) and field facilitators, generous support from UNICEF, very positive reception by community members, hardworking Natural Leaders, and active support from the Paramount Chief and Queen mother. They all add up to where we are now.” Says Jimah Yakubu, District Coordinating Director. Deservingly, Tatale Sanguli, as at July 2018, was on top of the Northern Regional bi-annual inter-district ODF League Table for the second time in two years.
The Tatale Sanguli District, like many others in the country, started implementing the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach in 2012 but as at the end of 2016, the district CLTS Team had only managed to stop open defecation in 14 communities. A couple of innovations by the GoG-UNICEF WASH programme within the Rural Sanitation Model in 2016 including the introduction of the District Resource Person (DRP) concept, latrine artisan training, training of Community Technical Volunteers (CTVs) and Natural Leader Networks among others began to yield fruits. Above all, the District is blessed with a very passionate Chief Executive in the person of Hon Thomas Mbomba, and Coordinating Director, Mr Jimah Yakubu. According to Mr Yakubu, the general environmental factors within the district have been very supportive to the fast pace of the ODF achievements.
A passionate District Chief Executive and management
In almost every high performing district in CLTS implementation, there is a DCE passionate for an end to open defecation. The current DCE of Tatale Sanguli, Hon Thomas Mbomba, has been described as one of the most passionate anti open defecation-free campaigners in the country ever since he was appointed to the district in 2016. According to him, the approach is comparatively cheaper and more effective for the district than any attempt to supply latrines – whether communal or household. He says looking at the financial position of the district, there was no way they were going to solve the open defecation problem through provision of communal toilets because there was simply no money for that. He says when he learned about the CLTS programme and its ability to reduce community dependency on government for toilets, he was convinced that at least there was a solution that was less costly and more effective. The DCE calls for weekly updates on progress from the CLTS team and seizes every opportunity to address the public to include open defecation.
Logistical support to CLTS Team
The DCE and his management team have paid particular attention to the CLTS programme. They have responded positively to most of the logistical needs of the team in terms of supply of fuel, provision of raincoats for operations during the rainy season, provision of motor bikes, and conversion of an official pick-up vehicle into a campaign van for public sensitization.
Overcoming larger communities
Like most other districts, the larger the community the more difficult it becomes to implement the CLTS approach. Usually the larger towns are the most difficult to trigger. To make facilitation easier, the district has divided the larger towns into smaller units for easier handling. Through this approach, a number of sections within the bigger communities have been verified as ODF. According to the Coordinating Director, the district was also reviewing its sanitation bye-laws to support the sustainability drive in all ODF communities.
Making ODF status attractive
There is keen competition for the scarce resources from the District Assembly (DA). To attract the attention of the DA for most development programmes and amenities, a community’s ODF status has been made one of the elimination criteria. In this sense, a community may request for water supply facilities and it would be requested to ensure that it passes an ODF verification test among other selection criteria. According to the DCE, no development is visible or complete without improved sanitation so community ODF status has been put at the centre of all development assistance to communities. To motivate households to construct their latrines without excuses, the district provides basic construction tools like pickaxes and shovels to communities. Any household willing to construct will only have to borrow the tools from the custodian and return them after use. “We are in a process of printing citations and sign posts for all ODF communities as reward for their achievement,” says Mr Jimah Yakubu.
Electoral Area level ODF League
The Coordinating Direct says the introduction of an Electoral Area level ODF League also supported the district to rise faster. This is because it has introduced keen but positive competition among the Electoral Areas, motivating each of them to work harder.
Working with chiefs and opinion leaders
The Tatale Sanguli District has found a way of mobilizing support from traditional rulers in promoting the ODF agenda. Chiefs have for instance been motivated to own the enforcement component very effectively through development and application of community-level bye-laws. “Since community members are usually part of drafting and approving their own bye-laws, its enforcement is easier than a district-led law, which they perceive as foreign and oppressive.
Selfless District Environmental Health/CLTS staff
The District Environmental Health Officer, Abdul-Manan Ziblim, DEHO since 2012, has been selfless and has demonstrated mature leadership in managing his 10-member staff and 15 Sanitation Guards. “I was the only person trained in 2012 in CLTS facilitation. None of the other staff was around then. I have had to train them all. And I also occasionally conduct refresher trainings for them,” he says. Manan has been able to persuade all his colleagues to own private motor bikes and minimize reliance on insufficient official vehicles for field work. He has, however, been able to also convince management to fuel these private motor bikes for field visits. His ability to relate effectively with management and ‘trigger’ them is also a major reason why his team receives such enviable management support.
Manan is ably supported by the District Resource Person (DRP), Godwin Lambon, who is on secondment from the Afram Plains Development Organization (APDO) through a tripartite agreement between UNICEF, the District Assembly and APDO. Lambon provides process facilitation support for the CLTS project implementation. His inclusion to the team is also a major contributory factor to the overall success.
Story by Emmanuel Addai