ILOILO – ACF International, a humanitarian organization committed to end world hunger, is helping 30 typhoon-ravaged villages here get a “Zero Open Defecation” (ZOD) certification from the Department of Health.
ZOD is among the strategies used to eliminate open defecation and eventually reach total sanitation wherein every household has its own improved toilet facility, water supply services and domestic hygiene systems.
Of the target areas of ACF, three gained ZOD status earlier this month, while the others are scheduled for verification and certification, according to Leomer Lacorte, behavior change and communication officer of the ACF.
“The drive for a sanitary environment and communities is on its peak, a good indicator of behavior change. Nevertheless, all barangays declared will still be subjected to monitoring to ascertain sustainability. In the upcoming days, more barangays are scheduled for ZOD verification and certification,” Lacorte said in a statement.
The first three ZOD-certified barangays in Iloilo are Agdaliran in San Dionisio and Posadas and Salcedo in Sara.
Next in line are Barangays Aposaga, Improgo, Latawan, Poblacion Market, Apelo, Gildore, Preciosa, and Villa Hermosa in Sara; Barrido, Bay-ang, Malayuan, Pili, Sto. Rosario in Ajuy; and Amayong, Batuan, Canas, Capinang, Cudionan, Dugman, Madanlog, Moto, Naborot, Pase, San Nicolas, Santol, Talo-ato, and Tuble in San Dionisio.
ACF, along with DOH and UNICEF, have been implementing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Program in the towns mentioned since 2013 after Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
ACF promotes ZOD in support of the strategies for rural sanitation development. The guidelines set by DOH are strictly followed to ensure fairness.
According to Lacorte, a series of verification activities are held prior to the declaration. First is the pre-evaluation or house-to-house inspection by the barangay health worker and barangay councilor on health.
Upon confirmation, a letter request for verification is sent to the Office of the Municipal Health for final evaluation.
The Municipal Health Officer, Municipal Councilor on Health, Provincial Sanitary Inspector and a Public Nurse then verifies the claim of the barangays. Proven to have passed all the criteria, ceremonial declaration then follows.
The number of barangays declared ZOD is reported to DOH for recording and monitoring purposes, program planning and for possible rewards.
ZOD status and its improvement are monitored every three months and it can be revoked if the barangay cannot sustain it.
ZOD-certified barangays are expected to develop practices leading to total sanitation for it to be a nominee to DOH-National Search for Barangay with Best Sanitation Practices.
Sanitary Inspector Kristine Angeli Felecio shared that achieving the level one of sanitation entails patience, dedication and persistence. “Persuading people to change cannot be done overnight,” she stressed.