THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has successfully completed a week-long Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) training of local facilitators in Western Province last week.
Around 30 individuals comprising of village facilitators, staff from the Provincial Environmental Health and Health Promotion Department and Solomon Islands Red Cross participated in the program.
The program, led by the MHMS, with technical support from UNICEF, aims to raise awareness on the importance of sanitation and trigger households to immediately build their own sanitation facilities and stop defecating in the open.
In his opening remarks, Sanitation Manager Mr. Marcel Gapu stated that the program was successfully implemented, with community volunteers now taking the lead in triggering communities.
“Like in Makira and Isabel Provinces, participants were trained on how to trigger communities to build toilets as well as do follow ups.
“We’ve taken this strategy because people know better their own communities and hence, by taking lead themselves, it becomes more effective.”
Elomana village in Rendova Island was triggered as part of the training, and already has plans to start the process of building their toilets as of 26th May, 2016 and to announce No Open Defecation (no siti olobaout) status by 26th August, 2016.
This means that everybody by then will be using a proper toilet and have a handwashing facility with water and soap.
It is expected that 15 other villages from Ranogga, Rendova and Marovo will lead the triggering themselves to build their own toilets and Handwashing Facilities in the coming weeks.
During the closing, Mr. Gapu congratulated participants for the successful week.
“I want to congratulate each and every one of you for your commitment and dedication towards the program which has prompted our first village to stop defecating in the open.
“But this is not the end it is actually the start of a series of triggering activities.
“I would also like to thank UNICEF WASH Officer Mr. Erick Hale, and Freda Po’oti for support with facilitating the training”.
Director of Environmental Health, Mr Tom Nanau, highlighted that the CLTS program came about due to the new Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Policy that was endorsed by Cabinet in 2014.
The policy states that government and partners will no longer subsidize any sanitation projects in communities, except for schools and health facilities.
“On this note I would like to thank our partners – the Australian Government for their financial support, and UNICEF for providing technical support towards the progress of CLTS in Solomon Islands as well as with water and hygiene practices.”
Meanwhile Provincial Hospital Secretary Ms. Soraya Pina thanked MHMS and mentioned that the programme will certainly make a difference in communities in Western Province.
“We are grateful to have this program on our shores as sanitation is one of the major problems especially in our rural communities.
“People defecate along the beach and bushes and over the years this has resulted in people getting sick more often with diarrhoea,” she said.
She explained that talking about toilet or human faeces is a sensitive topic but people must make wise decisions when it comes to their health because many diarrhoea-related deaths in the past and the recent diarrhoea outbreak experienced nation-wide were linked to poor sanitation.
Hospital Secretary Ms Soraya urged communities to work closely and cooperatively with local facilitators, stating that this initiative has the potential to preserve and enhance the health and livelihood of Western people.
For any communities wishing to get involved in the Community-Led Total Sanitation program, please register your interest by contacting the RWASH Unit’s Sanitation Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org, on mobile 745 5398 or phone 21805.