personnel of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) drawn from Laminkoto and Kudang
barracks have been sensitised on the harmful effects of open defecation on the
environment at the second infantry battalion at Farafenni. The sensitisation
was organised by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the
directorate of health promotion and education with funding from UNICEF.
Commanding Officer of Farafenni Army barracks Lieutenant Colonel A Bojang said the campaign is a national effort to ensure that diseases attributed to the practice of open defecation are mitigated or prevented through awareness creation in support to end it. “It is evidence that the military are the users of the bush as most of our trainings are conducted in the field where there are no traditional toilet facilities but that has no effect on open defecation as personal hygiene is a core module of our basic military training, in which the subject matter is covered.”
He said as soldiers, they know how to manage waste materials including human excreta, even though they are away from their natural homes because they are taught about life in the field during field craft lessons of which the practice of open defecation is emphasized.
Major Seedy Touray, GAF acting Director of medical services said open defecation is a practice hazardous to health and a challenge to human civilisation.
He said the purpose of the convergence is to prepare the participants to become advocators in ending open defecation in the region and beyond. “I have no doubt that the Commanding Officer and his officers and soldiers will ensure disseminating the information gathered here to the rest of their colleagues who are not privileged to be here.”
According to him, the military is not only formed to defend the country’s territorial integrity or to serve in peace keeping operations but it is also their responsibility to provide civil and social support when needed.
Director of health promotion and education Modou Njie expressed appreciation on the level of commitment that GAF showed in the sensitisation process and in the crusade against open defecation. He said their participation is a clear indication of the concern to end open defecation.