Nepal set to become open defecation-free country by Dashain

By Arpana Adhikari

Nepal will soon become a country with 100 per cent individual household toilet coverage. 

Leaving behind its neighbouring country India, and some other 80 countries of the world, Nepal is gearing up to be an open defecation-free country before this Dashain. The Ministry of Water Supply has targeted to achieve the status by the end of September. To declare Nepal as an ODF country, 11 districts and its 63 local levels have accelerated works to achieve the feat, said Devendra Kumar Jha, chief of Environmental and Sanitation Section of Department of Water Supply and Sewerage and Member Secretary of National Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Committee. 


In July, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration had issued a circular to all local levels, including the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, asking them to build required infrastructure to become ODF before September 30. 
The circular was made in response to a letter received from the Ministry of Water Supply on July 4 to accelerate the process to ensure that Nepal will become an ODF country. The country will meet the toilet coverage target under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by this September, said Jha. Solukhumbu and Bhojpur of State 1, Dhanusa, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Bara and Parsa of State 2, Dolakha, Kathmandu and Sindhupalchowk of State 3 and Kapilvastu of State 5 are yet to be declared ODF. 

According to Jha, toilet coverage in Bara and Dhanusa districts is 96 per cent and in Parsa and Kapilvastu is 98 per cent and remaining districts have 99 per cent toilet coverage so far. “All these 11 districts have been gearing up to get cent percent toilet coverage by mid-September. Before Dashain, cent per cent people in the country will be using toilets,” he added Jha, however, said that there were several challenges to declare Kathmandu district as a complete ODF zone because of the fecal sludge management problem in the Bagmati and other tributary rivers.To manage the fecal sludge that comes out from the households and keeping the Bagamati and other rivers of the valley free from the fecal sludge are major challenges. 

According to Prakash Amatya, Technical Advisor of Guthi, an NGO working in the field of drinking water and sanitation, Kathmandu now has cent percent toilet coverage. Amatya, who is also a member of monitoring committee formed by the Department of Drinking Water Department to monitor the status of open defecation, said during their monitoring at squatters’ settlement, they found that the district could be declared ODF. He said, “1,309 households in Kathmandu which were said to be without toilet, now have their own toilets.”“During the monitoring, we have found that those families who are living in a single roomed house also have their own toilet, while those, who lack land to build toilet individually, were also found using common toilet with their close relatives,” he added. 

Highlighting the preparations made by Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) to become ODF, Hari Kumar Shrestha, chief of the Environment Department at KMC, said no household of the city was without toilet. “This means, the people of each household in the district have developed the practice of defecating in toilet, rather than defecating outside. This is the criteria of ODF,” he added. When asked whether the KMC could be declared ODF when the human poop could be sighted in roads and other places of the city, Shrestha said the criteria of ODF was that all households have access to toilet and they had met the criteria. There were only 85 public latrines in KMC which is woefully insufficient.

Source: The Rising Nepal 14th August, 2019  Kathmandu

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