Nepal has been declared “Open Defecation Free”
Today (30 September 2019) all 77 districts in Nepal have been declared Open Defecation Free.
The news is a huge boost to the country as they battle to prevent water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, gastroenteritis and cholera.
The declaration is the result of many organisations (ourselves and DfID included) and the Nepali government’s hard work promoting the health risks of open defecation and providing safe sanitary alternatives.
Punthok village: how we help
Seven years ago, the people of Punthok, a small village in Nepal’s hilly Rolpa District did not have toilets outside their homes. Instead, people used to defecate openly in bushes.
When we first visited the village, our first action was to install temporary toilets as an emergency measure. Once they were in place we got to work planning access to clean water and toilets. Crucially, we also ran workshops for everyone in the village, teaching them how to clean the toilets and advised on the most effective way to wash their hands.
Dil Kumari Gharti Magar
Dil Kumari Gharti Magar, 30, is appointed as a Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) from Korchabang Health Post. Respected amongst her village, people listen to Dil when she talks to them about health and hygiene. By having a committee of people like Dil in place we can ensure our projects are used most effectively.
“Our village used to be very different to how it is today. We did not have proper access to a clean water supply, which resulted in poor sanitation and hygiene problems. People did not have toilets in their houses and were not aware about the importance of having one.”
“Back then, we had no idea that open defecation was the main reason for water borne diseases.”
“In 2012, The Gurkha Welfare Trust trained them to keep toilets clean and the best hand washing techniques. During the early stages, they monitored their sanitation and gave them feedback if there were any issues.”
“The Gurkha Welfare Trust has also constructed a clean water supply scheme in our village. We worked together to complete this project. Women and children in particular have benefitted from the scheme.”
“Now, people are more aware of hand washing, sanitation, hygiene and using toilets. We can fetch clean water instantly and there has been a sharp reduction in water borne diseases.”
Once we had completed our goal of bringing clean water and sanitation to Punthok, the community was declared an Open Defecation Free zone. The declaration caused a chain reaction – neighbouring communities were learning about the importance of using toilets and reaching out to us.
Dil Kumari has been an excellent ambassador for the cause:
“Working with the community has given me a voice and a platform to inform everyone about health and hygiene. It is incredible that people have improved their behaviour. I will continue to work effectively to change people’s behaviour towards sanitation and hygiene.”
“Thank you GWT for motivating and helping our communities to be an Open Defecation Free zone.”