Agago, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | 43 villages in two sub-counties, Agago district have been declared free of open defecation. The declaration follows a community-led sanitation baseline survey conducted in 100 villages in the sub-counties of Arum and Omot between April 2020 and July this year.
The survey that targeted some 5,076 households was conducted by Soroti Rural Development Agency (SORUDA), a local NGO that focuses on strengthening the capacities of rural marginalized communities.
The report released this week in Agago district reveals a great stride towards reduction in open defecation in the two sub-counties that have for long remained epicentres of unhygienic practices.
During the period of the survey, a total of 3,046 households in the selected villages were found with no access to pit latrines and residents were still practicing open defecation.
However, in the report released, latrine coverage had slightly improved with now only 2,030 households lacking access to latrines.
Agago District Health Inspector Sam Okiror says that although 71 villages had made self-claim of having ended open defecation, only 43 were verified and declared free from the vice by the district team.
He notes that about 12 villages have also been verified but the results are still pending declaration.
Okiror, however says despite the positive development, many households within the trading centres especially in Omot and Arum sub counties still have no latrines.
Agago District Chief Administrative Officer Stephen Oloya advises stakeholders to engage themselves in health participatory activities to minimize some of the rare hygiene-related sicknesses in the community.
He says many people blame health workers for the shortage of drugs in facilities and forget that some sickness is due to poor hygiene and malnutrition.
The Water and Environment Sector Performance Report 2020 indicates that 22 percent of the rural population were still practicing open defecation while 12.1 percent were still practicing open defecation in urban areas.
According to a 2019 Health Ministry report, the national latrine coverage in the country has increased from 49% in 1997 to 79% in 2018 and only 10% of the population was still living in open defecation free communities by end of 2018.
A study carried out by the Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP) reveals that Uganda loses 389 billion shillings annually due to poor sanitation.