Statistics by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has revealed that about 36.3 per cent of Ghanaians regularly practise open defection in beaches and other places in the country.
CSIR described open defecation as the practice of attending nature’s call in the bush, at the beach, in drains and dumb sites.
The continuous practice of the act by Ghanaians, the council said, was “completely unacceptable and must be stopped.”
The council maintained that Ghana could take more years to eliminate the practice due to the slow pace at which strategies, laws and interventions were being implemented by the government.
Deputy Director-General of CSIR, Prof Mrs. Rose Emma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, made this known at the inauguration of a press corps for CSIR in Accra yesterday.
The aim of the press corps is to disseminate information on the works done by the CSIR as the council celebrates its 60th years of existence, which grand launch will come off on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 in Accra.
According to her, although the current pace was nothing to write home about, he was hopeful Ghana could achieve an open defecation free society within the four-year national target if actions were expedited on all fronts.
Prof Entsua-Mensah who was worried about the situation called for attitudinal and behavioural changes among the target groups, and urged the media to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the sanitation crisis-facing nation.
.She also called for strict enforcement of building regulations to ensure that every household is forced to have toilet facilities.
She stressed the need for sustainable sanitation infrastructure in the country to help deal with open defecation, lamenting that more people, particularly children, die each year from diarrhoea and pneumonia because five million Ghanaians still use water from unsafe sources.
Highlighting the achievements of CSIR, Prof Entsua-Mensah said the council was closely working with the ministry of food and agriculture and farmers to end poverty in all forms everywhere.
“We are working to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition as well as promote sustainable agriculture,” Prof Entsua-Mensah stated.
According to her, the CSIR had contributed immensely to eradicating extreme hunger and poverty through agricultural intervention such as high yielding, pest and disease resistant crop varieties and production practices.
She pointed out that the CSIR promotes good soil health and water management and also develops improved planting material for the major food crops-maize, rice yam, cassava and millet.
She mentioned that the council improves varieties of the Nile tilapia and develops day-old chicks for poultry.
“We also advise farmers on good agronomic practices, provide harvest and post-harvest techniques, and undertake food preservation and processes into convenient foods and fortify foods for nutrition purpose,” Prof Entsua-Mensah added.
For his part, Director General of CSIR, Prof Victor K. Agyemang, said the current development challenges demand the harnessing of science, technology and innovation (STI) to enhance national development.
He said, “a significant 24 per cent of the population of Ghana is below the poverty level illustrating the challenges for poverty reduction and wealth creation.”
He added that more than one in five children suffer from chronic malnutrition, about 51 infant deaths per 1000 live births, only 16 have access to improved sanitation.
According to Prof Agyemang, the STI constitutes the generic tools to addressing the economic challenges, eliminating food insecurity and malnutrition and enhancing sustainability in environmental management.
“It must be stated that the fundamental challenge in sustaining any national STI system is continuously improving capacity of the country,” he said.
To this end, Prof Agyemang called on Ghanaians to constantly communicate and demonstrate the evidence of science in the ordinary lives of the people and in various ways to enhancing the understanding of science and technology in socio-economic activities.
Ghana has been ranked second after Sudan in Africa for open defecation, with five million Ghanaians not having access to any toilet facility.
The country has also been performing poorly with sanitation coverage of only 15 per cent, making the practice of open defecation a key sanitation challenge because people do not have access to key basic facilities.
The poor sanitation issues have cost the country $79million a year and also posed the greatest danger to human health particularly, for the most vulnerable, including young children.
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU