The National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), a division of Environmental and Occupational Health of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW), is calling on local leaders across Liberia to get involved in the “Community Led Total Sanitation,” commonly known as CLTS program.
In a three-day review of CLTS in Ganta recently, the participants, among whom were health workers, agreed, among other things, to continue the involvement of key stakeholders in the county, such as the superintendent, so as to flag up the issue of “open defecation.”
They also agreed to take the CLTS idea to communities, through town hall meeting and strong public awareness, as a means of eradicating open defecation (ODF) which poses a serious health hazard.
At the review meeting, nearly all the superintendents of Liberia were present, in order to ensure the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) is committed to enforcing public health laws.
According to Acting Deputy Director for Technical Services of the NPHIL, Mr. Amos F. Gbore, the CLTS is a national strategy that is intended to improve services of sanitation and hygiene in communities, especially rural ones.
He said CLTS was first introduced in Liberia in 2009, and since then the country has been implementing CLTS and making significant progress in all of the 15 counties.
“Some of the communities in which we have made progress, we have had those communities’ CLTS backing to open defecation,” he said.
“Unless we do something to be able to re-energize the approach, we could be making a game and then losing it,” he added.
Mr. Gbore said the review was designed to bring all stakeholders, including superintendents, the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW), Ministry of Health (MoH), the NPHIL as well as county health teams who are already carrying on the approach to design a way to improve the approach and also sustain the ODF status of communities that have become open defecation free.
When the Daily Observer visited some communities in Nimba, it was established that most homes no longer using pit latrines. Rather, people use nearby bushes to defecate, as in the past.
But one of the primary challenges community dwellers are faced with is the possibility of getting the needed materials to build newly designed latrines that use water.
Mr. Gbore confirmed being aware of these challenges, but said they are working towards ensuring that materials are available in every community.
“Open defecation is bad, because it leads to health hazards,” he said.
“If flies sit on your toilet and come back and sit on your food, it certainly makes you sick from running stomach. So we want the community to take the CLTS program seriously so that every community can become open defecation free,” he concluded.