Rampant open defecation worries stakeholders in Mkushi

Officials from both Local Government Ministry as well as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have expressed great concern with rampant Open Defecation Practice(ODP) in Mkushi district.

One official, Paul Mboshya from Local Government Ministry’s Department of Housing and Infrastructure Development (DHID), revealed that Open Defecation Practice was still rampant in communities of Mkushi district.

Mr Mboshya said that this situation was viewed as worrisome as the practice had a negative impact on the status of health amongst the communities, citing diarrhea cases as being amongst the manifestations.

He said that coupled with this, Mkushi’s performance in relation to the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme had raised much concern as it had been characterized by poor data reporting and storage.

He noted that although the CLTS program was incepted into Mkushi two years ago with the aim of achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status in all communities, the district had fared badly in coordinating these efforts.

Mr Mboshya however pointed out that the government had embraced the CLTS approach as this tool stressed on community participation, adding that the Local Government Ministry was eager to add renewed focus for Mkushi district.

He said that in view of this, Local Government Authorities had incorporated the CLTS ODF activities into the mainstream District Water Sanitation Health (D-WASHE) calendar.

In a related contribution, UNICEF Communication for Development Specialist, Rufus Eshuchi maintained that there was need for stakeholders involved in the ODF program to be guided by the timeframe.

Mr Eshuchi pointed out that observance of timeframe played a cardinal role to ensuring efficient approach to any programme as it helped stakeholders to complete the task in good time.

He said that apart from this, there was need for stakeholders to maximise the use of all available resources, adding that Mkushi had initially declared that it would achieve ODF status before the 2013—2014 rain season.

He said that there was need for the district committee of stakeholders to revisit the strategies that had been employed over the past years with regards to the ODF performance.

Mr Eshuchi however assured that UNICEF was prepared to fund the activities related to the ODF programme, but stressed on the need for renewed focus and drive in order to make the district ODF before the stipulated time frame.

He also maintained that there was need to uphold an approach that accommodated community solutions towards hygiene issues such as compulsory toilet per household, as well as the essence of hand washing.

The Local Government Ministry and UNICEF officials were in the district for consultative meeting with various stakeholders involved in CLTS programmes.

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