Pakwach district council has drafted an ordinance that seeks to curb an upsurge of open defection.
Dubbed the “Environment and Sanitation ordinance,” the proposed legislation seeks to compel every household in the district to set up an improved latrine with a presentable and durable hand washing facility with soap.
The ordinance seeks to mandate area LC1 chairpersons especially those near landing sites where open defecation is pronounced to carry out regular inspection of homes and arrest people without the basic sanitary facilities like latrines, utensil racks and those who fail to separate animal shelter from humans.
Open defection is a common phenomenon in most of the 57 landing sites in Pakwach district, which is escalating the spread of water borne diseases. Some of the villages where open defecation is prevalent include Kamana A, Lubiri B, Pujwang, Kamana B, Kijaja, Wanglei A, Wanglei B, Mangele, Lubiri A, Singla and Dei A and Dei B landing sites.
According to the district authorities, majority of the communities do not embrace latrine construction and resort to open defecation at night hours without being monitored. Dorothy Awori, the Pakwach District Social Services Secretary, says the district is chocking on low latrine coverage, which is frustrating their efforts in attaining the open defecation free status- ODFS.
“Most of our people are dying from behavioral diseases that could easily be minimized. The population is growing and you will not fail to get either fresh or dried human waste in most villages and in corridors of urban or peri-urban centers including landing sites,” Awori said
Adding that, “You wonder what type of fish we eat when you can get feaces at these
landing sites. We want to tame the attitude that there is no land for constructing pit latrines and yet people’s new buildings are being constructed every day.”
Records from the district indicate that latrine coverage stands at 70% while hand washing stands at only 44.9%. Judith Kigezi, the Acting Health Inspector Pakwach district, says the district is struggling to achieve the open defecation free status because people have neglected the relevance of sinking pit latrines and wash hands after with soap after latrine use.
Pakwach district recorded 608 cases of dysentery, 229 typhoid fever, 5,558 Intestinal worms and 5,280 diarrhea in 19 government health facilities across the district last year.
Robert Steen Omito, the Pakwach LC 5 chairperson, says the proposed ordinance is long overdue and will help to eliminate the rise in open defecation. He says the district is scaling up sensitisation and community sanitation campaigns to create awareness on the dangers of open defecation.
Onega Yasin, the LC1 chairperson Wanglei B village in Pakwach town council where open defecation is prevalent also welcomes the move, saying it will go a long way in curbing the practice.
The World Health Organization defines Open defecation as the practice of people defecating outside, such as in street gutters, behind bushes or defecating directly into water bodies. Open defecation contaminates sources of drinking water and spreads diseases like; cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery and intestinal worms.
The World Health Organization estimates that inadequate sanitation causes 432,000 death cases arising out infections from diarrhea annually. Frequent diarrhea increases the risk of malnutrition especially among the children. Open defecation also harms human dignity and safety.