Sunday, July 18, 2010

British Cameroons-type Sanitary Inspection to be Re-instituted

By Chifu Edward - Bamenda- Our towns, cities and villages may soon witness a change in environmental sanitation if council authorities embrace and foster move by Hygiene and Sanitation Organisation. Worried by the neglect of environmental hygiene due to the influence of the loose and lacklustre French culture, a 15 days training course (1st -15th of June) on Hygiene and Sanitation was organised in Bamenda at the Presbyterian Church Centre Ntamulung. The key objective of the training, organised by the National Hygiene and Sanitation Foundation, was to train participants on sanitary values, especially as existed in those days of British Southern Cameroons corroded over the years by the French careless culture.

Participants groomed
Participants were groomed on waste management, domestic sanitation, methods of sewage disposal construction of good pit toilets, sewage treatment in towns/cities, general house hygiene, pollution (land, water and air), sources of good water supply, purification of water. They were also drilled on diseases and infections resulting from poor hygienic and sanitary conditions. These included, worm infection, vector control and epidemiology. The use of disinfectants and personal hygiene in restaurants, slaughter houses and beer parlours were also taught. Participants were also taught how hygiene and sanitation could serve as a subsidiary source of revenue for councils, Hygiene & sanitation Laws & the Public Health Ordinance Report writing on Hygiene & sanitation.

Put into practice
The representative of the Northwest Governor to the training workshop, Mr. Shey Henry, said he was happy that over twenty councils have sent representatives to be trained in this area of hygiene and sanitation knowing the importance Government attaches to it . “I expect you to put into practice all you have learned in the workshop,” he exhorted. He said tours of all council areas shall be made by the technical services of the regional office to see into it that proper hygiene and sanitation laws were respected after this training.

Don’t be corrupt, do the work
“You shall not only respect sanitation laws but fetch revenue for your councils in respect of Accounts number 710107 on Inspection Tax; number 713101 of proceeds on Sanitary Inspection Tax and the number 222140 on Household Refuse Disposal equipment to keep the environment of your various municipalities clean. You collect your certificates, do the work and not talk about your certificates,” he cautioned. Aware of the dubious and corrupt nature of most Cameroonians, Mr Shei warned against corrupt practices in the exercise of the hygiene and sanitation duties.

Cleaner City of the World
Speaking to The Vanguard shortly after the workshop, the Coordinator of Hygiene and Sanitation Foundation, Mbonde William, said his organisation is working in collaboration with Cleaner City of the World. He said the objective of the workshop was to train council workers on hygiene and sanitation facilitators who will be very helpful to the community. He expressed optimism that: “Once they carry out what they have been taught during the seminar, most communities would be kept clean,” and this will prevent diseases arising from poor hygiene and sanitation conditions under which people live.

The Sanitary Officer of old
Mr Mbonde recalled that in the 60s and 70s the cities and villages were immaculately clean due to the existence of the dreaded sanitary inspection officials. They were dressed in knee-high khaki shorts and white helmets. They paraded the streets; comb the villages and towns from North to South, East to West for our own interest. “In those days people were not allowed to sell food without medical certificate”. They ensured that all households had befitting toilets and kept the environment clean. “The story is pathetic today,” Mbonde lamented.

Worked together
Nevertheless he blamed failure of the sector on the lack of collaboration between the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Public Health. “The sector functioned well in the early 70s and 80s, because both ministries worked in collaboration”. He was worried about the fact that most councils do not have the Health Ordinance and the Laws of Hygiene and Sanitation. This fact further aggravates the poor living conditions of several village and city dwellers. Handouts to this effect were distributed to participants to serve as a guide to enable them know what to do and what not to.To ensure the proper functioning of sanitary inspectors, officials are going to work in collaboration with State Counsels to bring recalcitrant house holds to book, he said.

If on daily bases
He observed that collection of sewage by councils was too slow. Some councils are said to have complained of lack of logistics and broken council trucks destined for the exercise. “If the council workers collect dirt on daily bases, the situation would have been different. Land refuse could not have been found in the street for days,” Williams charged.

Not vote for enough budget
Another impediment raised was the fact that most councils do not vote enough budget for hygiene and sanitation or for acquisition of sewage vans or trucks to ease evacuation of rubbish. He exhorted Seminar participants to sensitise and educate other Cameroonians on the importance of hygiene and sanitation. He disclosed that measures have also been taken to check fraud by sanitary workers. With the registration number 146/9.37/D14/vol/1/126 of March 1999 activities of the organisation started effectively two years after with head quarters in Buea. A sub a sub office in Bambui Mezam Division, Bamenda to vulgarise activities of the organisation in the Northwest Region.

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