About the ODF Ghana Campaign

What is the ODF Ghana Campaign?

The ODF Ghana Campaign is a national campaign that seeks to eradicate open defecation in Ghana. It is a component of the National Sanitation Campaign that was lunched by the President in November 2017.

Who is implementing this Campaign?

It is a government campaign led by the Ministries of Sanitation and Water Resources through the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development through the Department of Community Development (DCD).

Where is the campaign being implemented?

It has currently started in five regions with support from UNICEF – Central, Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Volta. It is however expected to be scaled up to every region by government and other partners. Individuals and entities can also start from anywhere in the country.

How is the campaign implemented?

The campaign applies the a behaviour change approach on the principles of Social Norms. It sees open defecation as a bad norm that needs to be changed into an acceptable norm of always using a toilet. It highlights the positive change in communities which have stopped open defecation to alert others that everybody is now using a toilet to you become strange or look odd if you continue to practise open defecation.

Why can’t the government simply force people to stop open defecation immediately?

Open defecation is a behaviour issue and given the huge number of people involved in it, it is difficult for government to apply only force to stop people from practising it. The campaign believes that once people notice that everybody is stopping open defecation and using a toilet, the expected change would be long lasting.

Who is a campaign champion?

These are respectable people in society who are also passionate to help the fight against open defecation. Once they are noticed, they are officially mobilized and trained to support the campaign in their regions, districts, communities or institutions. They work as volunteers and are only given technical support to embark on their mission.

About the role you can play in the campaign

What can a President of Ghana do?

A President of Ghana can in fact make a huge difference if open defecation is made part of government’s priorities. The President can influence his/her appointees to also prioritize open defecation and the impact can be massive.

What can the Legislature do?

The Legislature needs to enact and publicize prohibitive laws on open defecation both at national and local government levels. Strict laws at the Local Government level for instance can make very great impacts in communities. The Legislature can, for instance, enact laws to empower the Sanitation Brigade established for the National Sanitation Campaign to enable them to act more firmly on the field.

What can the Judiciary do?

The Judiciary is the main partner in enforcing laws in society. Therefore the way they handle open defecation-related offences can contribute to causing the necessary change.

What can traditional rulers do?

Traditional rulers in Ghana wield a lot of influence over their subjects. They are able to make bye-laws at their own level and set up their own courts and make rulings. In hundreds of rural areas, village chiefs have been able to ban open defecation in their communities. If every chief should aim at stopping open defecation in their communities, they whole country can be open defection-free within a very short period.

What can Religious Leaders do?

About 95% of Ghanaians are believed to be religious and belonging to particular religious groupings. If religious leaders decide to campaign against open defecation to their followers, at least 95% of Ghanaians will be receiving the campaign messages. Christians and Muslims dominate the religious space in Ghana and luckily enough, both the Bible and Quran have principles that frown upon open defecation and both believe that cleanliness is next to Godliness.

What can the media do?

The media has been doing very well in reporting and publishing features on open defecation in recent years. However, they can improve by setting an agenda against open defecation, which is yet to enjoy the needed time and space in the mass media. There is a claim from a section of the mass media that sanitation sector institutions have not created the needed partnership arrangements with them in their programmatic interventions. But it is also possible for the media to develop its own open defecation interventions and seek partnership with sanitation-related institutions for implementation.

What can the academia do?

In addition to research work, professors and teachers have a great deal of influence over the youth of Ghana. In addition to formal academic training on environmental sanitation, there could be serious sensitization of the youth against open defecation as is currently done with the School Health Education Programme (SHEP) of the Ghana Education Service. It should not be limited to voluntary school health clubs but rather involve everybody.

What can Business people do?

It is believed that the moment business-minded people see the ‘gold’ in household sanitation, Ghana’s problems especially with open defecation would be more than 80% solved. In some countries, human faeces is seen as a commodity with great economic value. In addition to the faeces as commodity, there are several services such as provision of toilet facilities and/or their accessories, financing facilities, provision of professional services, sewage systems, transport services and a lot more. What about opportunities in corporate social responsibilities?

What can Professional Associations, Trade Unions and Social Clubs do?

The moment a number of individuals come together to form an association or a club, they develop a deeper and louder voice. They can use their collective bargaining power to make demands on authorities for action. Associations and clubs can campaign against open defecation through sensitization of their own members, and also organizing public/community sensitization events, in addition to influencing local and traditional authorities to take the necessary measures to curb open defecation.

What can heads of institutions or entities do?

Heads of institutions or entities MUST always ensure that there are toilet facilities within the premises where the staff and any visitor or client can use. This includes educational and health institutions as well as market places, company offices, shopping centres, shops, restaurants and bars, workshops etc.

What can landlords do?

It is a responsibility for every landlord to provide a toilet for every household in his/her house. Failure to provide a toilet in the house is a punishable offence in the building code. If every landlord provides a toilet in his/her house, open defecation can reduce close to zero.

What can YOU do?

You MUST adopt a habit of always using a toilet and refraining from practising open defecation. The moment every individual uses only a toilet, open defecation will be zero! If you are a prospective tenant, please insist on renting ONLY apartments or rooms in houses with an improved toilet. If every tenant does this, most landlords will be compelled to install toilets in their houses. If you have the chance to call radio/TV stations, raise alarm of the threat of open defecation in areas around you.