Ending open defecation in poor communities around the country has been one of the priorities of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

“Open defecation, lack of proper sanitation and poor hygiene especially in impoverished areas around the country are some of the leading causes for the spread of diseases. Aside from putting risk to the health of the whole community, it compromises the safety and dignity of women and children,” stated DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo.

To end the practice of open defecation, community recipients of the Kalahi-CIDSS program, particularly in Eastern and Central Visayas, are pushing for the construction of safe and clean toilets in their villages to achieve the zero-open defecation (ZOD) status.

“Matagal na naming problema ang diarrhea at schistosomiasis dito sa Gandara​, Samar. Noong una, marami ang namamatay dito dahil walang palikuran ang mga kabahayan (Diarrhea and Schistosomiasis are two of the leading health problems here in Gandara, Samar​. Many people died here because of poor sanitation and lack of comfort rooms),” said Tagnao Barangay Chairperson Virgilio Oliva.

Barangay Tagnao is one of the 34 barangays in Gandara, Samar where there has been an outbreak of schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms ingested through infested water.

Through Kalahi-CIDSS, about 138 households in Tagnao will have their own sanitary toilets. Clean toilet facilities can help prevent food and water contamination, thereby, eradicating possible causes of diarrhea and other diseases in their community.

The project’s completion was made possible through the P1.8 million funding support given by the Department with the local government counterpart fund of P124,000.

Similarly, some 82 household-beneficiaries in Brgy. Alang-Alang, Tabogon, Cebu will also have their individual latrines constructed under the Kalahi-CIDSS program this month.

Meanwhile, the DSWD continues to push for its convergence strategy for its core promotive programs, specifically the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and the Kalahi-CIDSS, to educate and raise the awareness of community beneficiaries by conducting series of trainings, such as Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), in their family development sessions and barangay assemblies.

“Little by little, we hope to positively influence the behavior of communities through our consultation dialogues and development sessions by empowering them and helping them to claim their rights. We hope to leave a legacy where our people are able to respect and safeguard the privacy and dignity of others,” explained Sec. Taguiwalo.  ###