A week long Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) training of local facilitators in Makira province was successfully completed by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) last week.
Around 30 individuals comprising of community members, staff from the provincial Environmental Health Department, Health Promotion Department, World Vision and UNDP participated in the CLTS program.
The program, led by the MHMS Environmental Health Division, with technical support from UNICEF, aims to raise awareness on the importance of sanitation and trigger households to immediately build their own sanitation facilities and stop defecating in the open.
In his opening remarks, Manager of Sanitation Marcel Gapu stated that while this program is also implemented by partners in other communities in Makira and other provinces, it is the first of its kind because it is estimated that around 15-20 communities will lead the triggering themselves to build their own toilets and hand washing facilities.
“In the coming weeks, local facilitators who have just been trained will continue the triggering process in their own communities. This is in addition to the three communities that were triggered last week as part of the training program,” he explained.
Of the three communities triggered, Runaga in Ward 13 agreed to stop all open defecation, with everybody using a toilet and washing hands with water and soap by 11 June, 2016.
Nats village, in Ward 12 agreed to stop all open defecation by 21 June, 2016, while Tawangisi in Ward 9 agreed to start burying all faeces immediately to stop the harmful spread of faeces through flies and animals.
During the closing, Mr. Gapu congratulated participants for the successful week. “I want to congratulate each and every one of you for your commitment and dedication towards the program which has prompted our first three communities to stop defecating in the open. But this is not the end it is actually the start of a series of triggering activities,” said Mr. Gapu.
Director of Environmental Health Tom Nanau, highlighted that the CLTS program came about due to the new Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene policy that was endorsed by Cabinet in 2014.
The policy states that government and partners will no longer subsidize any sanitation projects in communities, except for schools and health facilities.
He acknowledged the valuable support from the Australian Government and the EU in getting the program up and running.
Meanwhile Premier of Makira province Honourable Stanley Siapu thanked the Ministry of Health for implementing the program in Makira.
“We are grateful to have this program on our shores as sanitation is one of the major problems especially in our rural communities. People defecate along the beach and bushes and over the years this has resulted in people getting sick more often with diarrhoea,” he said.
He explained that talking about toilet or human faeces is a sensitive topic but people must make wise decisions when it comes to their health because many diarrhoea-related deaths in the past and the recent diarrhoea outbreak experienced nation-wide were linked to poor sanitation.
Premier Siapu urged communities to work closely and cooperatively with local facilitators, stating that this initiative has the potential to preserve and enhance the health and livelihood of Makira people.
The National Community-Led Total Sanitation programme is funded by the Australian Government and the European Union.