ORAS, Eastern Samar, April 26, 2017–The town of Oras has been recognized by UNICEF Philippines as one of the municipalities that initiated the Zero Open Defecation Program without NGO assistance.
Mayor Viviane Alvarez said that majority of the households in the municipality now have access to sanitary toilets and have stopped the practice of open defecation.
They were able to do this by partnering with the households and the barangays.
“I explained to them the importance of good sanitation, how the health problem can affect the economic status of the family, and that it is a basic necessity to have good water source and a sanitary toilet”, said Mayor Alvarez, stating also that almost half of the barangays in her town are positive of schistosomiasis.
The mayor said that it was not easy. The social preparation took a long time. “We cannot change their old practices overnight”’ she said.
But once the people understood the importance of good sanitation and its impact on the health of the people, they gave their full cooperation to the initiative.
Using toilets will promote a healthier environment and prevent the spread of diseases like diarrhea, intestinal worm infestation and malnutrition.
According to Alvarez, the partners contribute resources in the construction of the toilets. The LGU provides the toilet bowl, cement and steel bars, the barangay helps with the other construction materials and the household is responsible for the construction.
“Twenty one barangays have already been declared ZOD last year, and the rest are awaiting evaluation, hopefully the whole municipality will achieve ZOD status this year and we did it without assistance from any NGO”, she said.
Mayor Alvarez said that last year she was even invited by the UNICEF to share this best practice, during the Sanitation Learning Exchange where health leaders, government executives and NGOs discussed how to address the present state of sanitation in the country. (Eden Cidro/Este News)