The Sanitation Fair organized by the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly with funding from the Government of Netherlands and UNICEF was well attended, with hundreds trooping in from all over the north and beyond to witness various displays of sanitation wares at the Jubilee Park in Tamale.
The fair was aimed at creating awareness on the hazards of open defecation and to whip up the interest of community members on the consequences of defecating in the open.
The Tamale metropolitan assembly had to do this to drive into people in the various communities, good sanitation practices and the need to own a household latrine.
It also sought to demystify the misconception that it is expensive to own a latrine in your home, by partnering with various NGOs and social enterprises that provide them at affordable prices, with some having to construct them on credit, for the cost to be spread over a period of up to one year for payment to be done.
Since the inception of the project in 2015, over four thousand more households have constructed household latrines within the Tamale Metropolis.
Speaking at the maiden event at the Jubilee Park in Tamale, the Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive, Iddrisu Musah Superior said the project was scheduled to run for five years from 2015, which means it will be ending this year.
He added that all the success that has been chalked cannot be attributed to only the hard work of the assembly and its sanitation officers, but also to the development partners both international and local.
He however charged all stakeholders especially those with the capacity of providing latrines for households on credit basis to step up their efforts in identifying more households and make them understand their terms and conditions on the initiative.
He also called on the community members to reach out to the service providers and not be perturbed by perceptions of high interest rates, as all the partners providing the credit facilities have the interest of seeing more coverage in terms of households with latrines, rather than cashing in on their beneficiaries.
The country representative of UNICEF, Anne-Claire in her speech referred to a research that revealed that five out of every ten people in Ghana still practice open defecation whiles in Tamale, three out of five people still engage in open defecation.
Madam Anne gave a chilling revelation that a sanitation fund has been released to some partner financial institutions involved in the project to give out loans to individuals who are in need of household latrines but do not have the financial strength to do it.
The financial institutions that have been given disbursement of the funds by UNICEF and its partners under the project are Tizaa rural bank and Bonzali rural bank.
In a speech read on behalf of the Northern Regional Minister, Mr. Salifu Saeed, by the regional coordinating director, he stated that tackling sanitation is in the same vein as tackling poverty and also helping in national development.
He advised the beneficiaries to cultivate the habit of paying back the loans that will be advanced to them from the sanitation fund to construct their household latrines.
This in his view will help to not compromise the accessibility of the loan facility by other potential beneficiaries.
He indicated that before the inception of the project, only 15% of the entire households within the Tamale Metropolis had household latrines, but this has increased significantly to 41% after the introduction of the project in 2015.
He urged the assembly to strengthen its sanitation by-laws and punish offenders to serve as a deterrent to others who might be attracted to breaking them.
The fair saw some basic schools awarded for their hard work and resolve at championing good sanitation practices and some communities for leading in owning household latrines.