The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with Anambra Government has embarked on establishment and orientation of Volunteer Influencers (VIs) to fast-track construction and use of household latrines.
The programme was aimed at eradicating open defecation and adoption of other Essential Family Practices (EFPs) in 12 communities in Idemili South Local Government Area (LGA) of Anambra state.
Speaking during the communities’ tour, the UNICEF facilitator in the state, Mrs Georgina Ileka, expressed her displeasure at people who defecate in the open, and landlords who build houses without toilet facility.
“People must be discouraged from open defecation because when they defecate outside or in the bush, houseflies perch on them and still find their way into our houses to perch on our food.
“The deposits of these flies cause dysentery, typhoid fever and diarrhea.
“Some who defecate in polythene bags and throwing them across walls, should be warned to desist from such habits because it pollutes the environment,” said Ileka.
She said that the volunteers were selected with the help of their traditional rulers or president-generals.
“UNICEF’s proposition is to engage you as models because of your influence in the community and make you active players, who will facilitate the promotion of practices within your communities.
“You must have toilet facility yourselves. Discover families without toilets and mandate them to construct one within a month or face the Anambra State Sanitation Court.
“Tell people to stop open defecation. Teach them effective hand washing with running water and soap or ash,” Ileka said.
She urged them to visit at least 10 to 20 household every quarter of the year and conduct interpersonal communication sessions with households on the construction and use of toilets.
According to her, the state UNICEF team will meet with the LGA front-line workers and VIs to review the progress made by the end of January, 2018
The communities at the end of the exercise resolved on a number of action plans to improve the pace of adoption of practices essential for proper maternal and child care.
These action plans are that all families must have toilets, complete eradication of open defecation; effective hand washing must be practiced in homes, schools, public places.
In their remarks, the President Generals of Awka Etiti, Mr Joachim Okeke and his counterpart at Akwa Ukwu, Chief Micheal Anierobi thanked UNICEF and the government for efforts at improving health and sanitation standards of communities.