More than 1 million people in The Gambia lack access to basic sanitation, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Saffie Lowe-Ceesay, has said.
She said the new government of The Gambia has recognised the importance of sanitation and therefore gives it a priority in the recently completed National Development Plans.
The minister made this statement while presiding over an 'open defecation free' ceremony held at Kaiaf village in Kiang East District recently.
The theme of the event was 'Improved sanitation and hygiene is our pride' and it was graced by senior government and regional officials, district chiefs, and Akalolou.
The open defecation free campaign is being implemented by The Gambia government and supported by UNICEF. The aim of the campaign is to free Gambia of open defecation by November 2017.
Kiang East is the first district in The Gambia to declared free of open defecation.
Minister Lowe-Ceesay commended UNICEF for its effort in supporting The Gambia in the campaign, saying the country is now part of the global map for sanitation and the progress registered would have not been possible without the support of the UN agency.
The governor of Lower River Region, Fanta Bonjang Samateh Manneh said sanitation is dignity and that is why the government wants to end open defecation by November 2017 throughout The Gambia.
She called on her entire region to work towards the elimination of open defecation.
The country representative of UNICEF congratulated Kiang Kaiaf for being the first district among the 35 districts in The Gambia to be declared free of open defecation.
She said UNICEF had appreciated the partnership from the people of The Gambia and therefore she congratulated the Gambians for making sure their environment is clean at all time.
According to her, The Gambia is going to be the first country to be declared open defecation free in West Africa, and assured the stakeholders of UNICEF's continued partnership with The Gambia.