For the eleventh consecutive year, Uganda is slated to celebrate the National Sanitation Week, on the premise of stimulating awareness and promoting advocacy for proper Sanitation and Hygiene practices amongst nationals.
This year’s celebrations will be held at Oluvu Primary School playground in Maracha district starting on March 15th under the theme “Good sanitation – My responsibility”.
Speaking at the press briefing, Dr. Diana Atwiine the health ministry permanent secretary underscored the need for health education as one way of elevating good hygiene and sanitation practices amongst the citizenry.
Atwiine said whereas it is the ministry’s primary responsibility to ensure that all Ugandans are sound in terms of health, it is everyone’s responsibility, local government inclusive to ensure that disastrous practices such as poor garbage and fecal disposal are stamped out of their communities. This she says is crucial if not necessary if the country is to reduce on its devastatingly high disease burden.
“Why would we allow people to cook food on the road and we have people passing and the mud is splashing and you are cooking chapatti right on the road… We do not have adequate latrines, so we expect the local leaders there to take the lead and say that in this area if you have to build a house here, you need to have a latrine”, Atwiine implores.
That said, she also called for the need for scaling of health sensitization campaigns as one way of tackling the problem of ignorance which to date remains a key impediment.
“I have always said before, that we can do so much even with the little that we have if we invest in knowledge provision to the community such that we know the dangers and that also they (citizens) participate in taking their health responsibility. Once we continue educating and our people in schools then we will bring out society that is more responsive to sanitation. We want to strengthen that collaboration”, she adds.
Hygiene and sanitation in numbers
As a result of mistrial efforts over the years, Uganda’s latrine coverage has increased from 49% in 1997 to 79% in 2018. That said, the national hand washing coverage has also steadily risen from 14% in 2007 to 36% apparently.
That said, only 10% of Uganda’s entire population lives in living in open free defecation areas or places where people correctly and consistently use places of conveniences.
The national average is a pale comparison to Maracha district whose latrine and hand washing coverage stands at 91% and 61% respectively.
Collectively, only 10% or 4.1 million Ugandans are living in areas declared open defecation free.
According to Mr. David Katweere a technical assistant at ministry of health says that for an area to be declared open defecation free it must have high latrine coverage and people must correctly and consistently use places of convenience.
This annual event which was celebrated in Kole district last year comes on the backdrop of the continental ministerial council’s decision that was taken on December 3rd 2004 primarily to celebrate and recognize a sanitation and hygiene week. This decision was earlier informed by deliberations that were held at the global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Forum Senegalese capital of Dakar the same year.