A national contest in Ghana is reimagining beauty pageants for social good. Anita Mwinisonaam, crowned Miss Metro Ghana in 2018, is using her platform to advocate for clean water and sanitation.
Mwinisonaam launched a new campaign on Tuesday to address the problems associated with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). The campaign is focused on promoting behavior change in communities and aims to engage youth and stakeholders to become ambassadors for water and sanitation issues.
“According to the World Bank report in 2012, about 19,000 Ghanaians including 5,000 children below the age of 5 died as a result of poor sanitation practices,” Mwinisonaam said on Tuesday, according to Ghana Web.
Last year Mwinisonaam won the annual Miss Metro beauty pageant established in 2017 to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Ghana. The pageant is aligned with SDGs 3 and 6, to ensure good health and well-being by achieving clean water and sanitation by 2030.
The new campaign will target 40 primary schools and 40 religious bodies across 15 towns and districts in Ghana’s Upper East Region, and educate them about how poor water and sanitation impacts their communities.
Due to human activities including illegal mining, open defecation, and dumping trash, only 15% of the region has access to proper sanitation, according to John Godson Aduakye, the regional director of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CSWA).
When people don’t have access to clean water and sanitation, decreased school attendance, life-threatening illnesses, missed workdays, malnutrition, and poverty are all at risk.
In 2018, the region recorded 40,000 cases of diarrhea in children under the age of 5, according to Dr. Winfred Ofosu, the regional director of the Ghana Health Services. The campaign hopes to receive enough support to reduce childhood mortality and water-borne illnesses including cholera, malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, and hepatitis A.
The campaign has already received support from the local government. Madam Tangoba Abayage, the regional minister, said the campaign is in line with the government’s vision to achieve clean water and best sanitation practices and is committed to helping Miss Metro achieve her goal.