October 2018: Launch of Media Coalition: Boost for ODf Ghana Campaign?
In this edition…
The fight against open defecation in Ghana intensifies as a group of some of the most powerful media institutions in the country today have formed a coalition to support the campaign. This edition of the Toilet Agenda discusses the opportunities that this coalition brings and suggests ways that WASH sector institutions can take advantage of such a powerful platform to advance the fight against open defecation in Ghana.
Over the past few years, especially since 2015, some major partners in the implementation of the Rural Sanitation Model and Strategy (RSMS), notably UNICEF and World Vision, have made great efforts at mobilizing and sensitizing the media and working with them as indispensable partners in eradicating open defecation in Ghana. UNICEF, for instance, between 2015 and 2016, organized six regional media sensitization workshops on the menace of open defecation and capped it with a media awards package for remarkable works on the topic. Even before the Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources launched the ODF Ghana component of the National Sanitation Campaign in November 2017, UNICEF mobilized the media in five regions to sensitize them on how they could support the campaign to be effective.
Between 2017 and 2018, World Vision, in partnership with Kings Hall Media also organized two Media Summits on open defecation for both the Southern and Northern zones with participants drawn from all the ten regions in the country.
It is therefore fair to argue that these efforts and those by other partners must have contributed to the increasing media interest in open defecation issues in recent years. There is hardly a day that passes without any media story on open defecation in Ghana now.
The Media Coalition against Open Defecation (M-CODe)
To make the ODF Ghana Campaign gain more political and public attention, and again with facilitation from World Vision and Kings Hall Media, media institutions including GTV, Radio Ghana, Uniiq FM, Ghana News Agency, Starr FM, Citi FM, Joy News TV, Joy FM, Ghanaian Times, Ghana WASH Journalists Network, and Ghana WASH Times have come together to form the first ever media coalition against open defecation in Ghana. The Main objective of M-CODe is to support the fight against open defecation through intensified advocacy and public sensitization.
Several WASH Stakeholders, including the sector Ministry, and the Ministry of Tourism, have welcomed the idea of such a coalition. Some of M-CODe’s key activities will be community tours, engagement with public officials, engagement with WASH stakeholders, engagements with citizens, and always ensuring that issues with open defecation are in the news and public discourse. The good news is that many media institutions are already doing this. The difference, however, is that M-CODe will be doing it with the power of a collective voice and agenda. Imagine all these powerful media outlets working on a selected agenda at the same time over a period!
Opportunities working with M-CODe
M-CODe is very passionate and wants to use every opportunity to help the country to win the war against open defecation. While the coalition tries to expose rot and gaps in the sector, it also wants to highlight the gains we have made and the potentials in the innovations by our respective programmes and projects. The needs our inputs by way of information as the ingredients for its advocacy and sensitization activities.
Most M-CODe members have nationwide coverage or networks and they can collectively cover the entire Ghanaian air with issues we share with them or activities we partner with them to undertake. For instance, a couple of districts have been so close to attaining ODF for too long. With the coalition, it would be easier to turn some of the key issues militating against these hardworking districts into a national agenda. When individual media outlets report or publish articles on the issue, it usually becomes just ‘one of those things’ and are usually glossed over. But when a coalition such as M-CODe decides to make it a national agenda, the possibility of a national action is higher.
Again, the coalition is virtually non-bureaucratic and is ready to take spontaneous action when approached. At its first post-launch meeting, M-CODe decided to make it a priority agenda to support districts closest to ODF status through intensive advocacy and sensitization in 2019. This is a challenge to stakeholders in the ODF Campaign and CLTS to explore the potential in a collective media action to help districts like Nandom, Tatale, Garu, and Mion to declare ODF and open the floodgates for more ODF districts in Ghana.
By Emmanuel Addai