By Ndey Sowe
The Gambia has made a landmark commitment and pledge to ‘‘End Open Defecation’’ by 2020 as Dr. Isatou Touray the Vice President of the Gambia, led the signing of a declaration on this recently.
The landmark event which took place at the National Consultative Meeting saw a major convergence of stakeholders in Kololi.
The historic pledge which was also signed by staff and country representative of UNICEF Sandra Lattouf, the Ministers of Health and the Environment, Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh and Lamin B Dibba, respectively, the Speaker of the Children’s National Assembly Sarata Ceesay and several other Government officials and partners, came two days after the Gambia Government and UN partners launched the Decade of Action in the Gambia, a ten year period of accelerated effort and stronger action to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). The declaration showed Government’s commitment to achieve SDG 6 which deals with the provision of clean water and sanitation to the citizenry.
“I believe it is time for all of us to collectively stand against open defecation in this country, in our various capacities,” Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray said. She continued: “All of us here should speak to the rest of the Gambians and non-Gambians alike with a unified voice that sanitation for all is achievable.”
Sandra Lattouf, the UNICEF Gambia Country Representative remarked: “As a key partner in the national drive to end open defecation in The Gambia, UNICEF, in recent years, has invested huge amounts of resources to support the government in this endeavor. At UNICEF, we strongly believe in partnership,” and a great example of such partnership is our work on open defecation. 99% of the Gambian population is open defecation free. This is a major achievement that we should all celebrate.”
She called for broader partnership including the active participation of the private sector and local communities, to end open defecation in the Gambia and warned that the practice has serious health and economic implications for children and their families.
She hailed the high-level of commitment of the Government of the Gambia to end open defecation and called for stronger Government action towards this endeavor in 2020.
Health Minister Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh and Speaker of the Children’s National Assembly of the Gambia Sarata Ceesay, applauded UNICEF for supporting the country’s end to open defecation agenda and urged other partners to support the cause; that Government wants to achieve a 100% end to open defecation by 2020; that this is a feat that could see the Gambia emerge as the first to achieve such a milestone in West Africa and UNICEF Gambia will continue to support Government to achieve this major milestone.