The Sanitation and Health programme in the ministry of Health and Sanitation and UNICEF have started a five-day training workshop in Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) for facilitators at BIRD-SL’s regional office in Kenema.
The chairman of the programme, Augustine Amara who is also the deputy Chief Administrator of the Kenema District Council, stressed the importance of the community participation in the implementation of community development project.
He maintained that government and donor agencies had done much on sanitation in urban centres as against rural areas. He commended the donors for their tremendous interventions in addressing some of the needs of the people in the district.
Mr Augustine Amara appealed to donor agencies to be involved in community participation in the CLTS drive, saying that some projects had been abandoned in the past in the rural areas because they had not been the priorities of the community people.
He called on participants to take home whatever they would be acquiring during the five-day training for proper quality representation, accountability and transparency.
The District Health Superintendent of the ministry of Health and Sanitation in Kenema district who is also the coordinator of CLTS, Olai Sankoh, explained that 2008 had been declared by the United Nations as the international year of sanitation in a bid to ensure that all countries had equal access to proper sanitation.
He said, “Sierra Leone has been selected as a pilot country for the community led total sanitation and Kenema district as a pilot district to carry out the drive”. He adding that, “it is a community led project geared towards improving on sanitation for the prevention of health related diseases”, noting that 95% of diseases were prevented through sanitation; therefore the community people should take the lead in sanitation drive.
Mr Sankoh further noted that, “if sanitation is properly addressed there would be reduction in infant mortality rate and food security, education and peace will be adequately addressed”.
He stated that CLTS emerged from the declaration of the United Nations that neither government nor NGOs should construct toilet for communities in both urban and rural areas in the country but to train facilitators who in turn should train other community members to help disseminate the message of sanitation.
He told participants that UNICEF was the implementing agency in the CLTS project with support from DFID.
The District Medical Officer, Dr Yankuba Madina Bah, said “if we are to reduce infant mortality we have to consider sanitation”. He also emphasized that if the project failed in Kenema then the whole country had failed.
The officer in charge of UNICEF in Kenema, Rugiatu Kanu, maintained that community led total sanitation was a new methodology in order to help prevent open defecation, and that it was geared towards educating people about the importance of having toilets by themselves in their various communities.
She said to achieve the Millennium Development Goal by 2015 “we need to talk about sanitation”, but stated that, “UNICEF does not provide subsidies to construct toilets but rather facilitate the training of facilitators on community health sanitation”.