• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The provincial government of Negros Occidental yesterday honored and recognized La Carlota City for being the first local government unit in the province to achieve the Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) status.
Aside from giving recognition to the concerned local government unit, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson also gave incentives worth P100,000 to the La Carlota City government, which was received by Mayor Rex Jalando-on, in the presence of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Girlie Pinongan.
A ZOD status is achieved when households in a particular barangay have access to sanitary toilet facilities and has stopped the practice of open defecation, which results in zero human feces exposure in the environment, according to the Department of Health, which is promoting ZOD in all barangays of the country.
Jalandoon said it took nine years for them to convince La Carlota residents to change their behavior, have access to toilets, and end the practice of open defecation.
While there are few creeks and rivers in La Carlota City, almost all its barangays are surrounded with sugarcane fields, being used as comfort rooms by residents in the past, the mayor said.
Having achieved the ZOD status, Jalandoon said he expects the further reduction of diseases brought about by open defecation.
He also reported that almost 90 percent of La Carlota City areas are now supplied with potable water from the water district.
Last year, 20 barangays in Negros Occidental province received cash incentives of P20,000 each for achieving ZOD status in 2022.
A ZOD barangay means all its residents already have access to toilets.
Lacson said a ZOD status also means safe water for Negrenses, noting that sugarcane fields are being used as rest rooms, with human waste are also being thrown in rivers and creeks.
We would like to avoid that, because it can affect our underground water, river water, which is the source of our bulk water project, the governor stressed.
With education and providing them with the facilities to build their toilets, Lacson said we are now improving the health situation of all Negrenses.
Lacson also challenged other LGUs to use La Carlota City as a model.
The municipality of San Enrique is also targeting the ZOD status next year, the governor said.
Early this year, the provincial government of Negros Occidental provided selected barangays in EB Magalona with 300 toilets, as part of its ZOD strategy.
According to DOH, there are more Filipinos with mobile phones than those with functional toilets, which it said should be a necessity for every Filipino household.*