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Kathmandu behind remote districts in meeting ODF target


KATHMANDU, June 25: Just two week ago, Kalikot became the first such district in Karnali and second in Mid-Western Development Region to declare Open Defecation Free (ODF) zone. Kalikot ranks 71 on Human Development Index among the 75 districts of the Country.
But what this backward district has achieved still seems a far cry for the Valley.

Kalikot was on its way to be declared ODF zone by 2014, but the active participation of locals and other stakeholders helped them achieve the target before the deadline. The campaign that had begun five years ago concluded with construction of a total 23,000 toilets in the 30 VDCs of the district.
Earlier in May, Achham, a backward district that is frequently in news for the superstitious practice of Chhaupadi, became the first district in the mid and far west regions of Nepal to be declared ODF zone, leaving behind the much developed districts.

Toilets have been constructed at each home in all the 75 Village Development Committees (VDC) of the district.
Eight districts: Kaski, Parbat, Myagdi, Tanahun, Chitwan, Pyuthan, Achham and Kalikot that have been declared ODF are now moving towards achieving another ambitious goal of access to water and sanitation services by 2017.

While the geographically challenged underdeveloped districts have done far better, the Kathmandu District Development Committee (DDC) has managed to declare only five of its VDCs as ODF till date. Mahankal, Balambu, Old Naikap, Gongabu and Manmaiju VDCs have so far been declared ODF. With just two weeks remaining before the current fiscal year comes to an end, officials claim that they´ll declare five more VDCs free of open defecation by mid-July.

“All the households in those five VDCs have toilets now. We are about to declare them ODF soon,” said Prabin Pyakurel, information officer at the DDC. Kapan, Bhimdhunga, Dahachok, New Naikap and Goldhunga are the new VDCs which are said to have adequate private and public toilets.
Leaving aside the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), there are total 57 VDCs in the Kathmandu district which are to be declared ODF by 2014 to achieve the target of universal access to water and sanitation.

According to Pyakurel, the DDC has allocated Rs 1 million for encouraging sanitation in the VDCs. Likewise, the Water Supply Office and the DDC jointly implements the water and sanitation program. He said that the office hasn´t received any support from NGOs or INGOs for implementing the projects.

The DDC has also provided Rs 1200 cash support to build toilets to each family it deemed fell in the extremely deprived category, Pyakurel said.
Officials acknowledge that poverty is the main challenge in achieve the goals.

“There are so many people who need money just to buy foods. It´s almost impossible to convince them to build toilets,” he added. It´s more challenging to make urban areas ODF

The responsible officers at Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) reject the fact that they are doing nothing to improve the status of sanitation.
Referring to the recently issued report by Lumanti, a non-government organization, the Environment Division Chief of the KMC Rabin Man Shrestha said that toilet coverage in all 35 KMC wards was up to 97 percent. But the status of public toilets is pathetic and inadequate.

Experts say that it is more difficult to make urban areas ODF compared with the rural parts. In urban areas, there is a continuous flow of visitors and migrant workers who come in search of job, medical treatments and other purposes. Inadequate number of public toilets compels most of them to defecate on the roadside or other open spaces.

“It´s more due to the inadequate infrastructures rather than the public attitude here in the Valley,” says Ram Bahadur Ghimire, an urban sanitation expert with Wateraid.

For 4 million people, including 2.6 million Valley dwellers and floating population, there are only 61 public toilets. It comes up to just one toilet for 65,000 people.

On the other hand, the government is yet to standardize the ideal number of public toilets on the basis of the users´ number.
Though the Ministry of Education has called for one toilet per 50 students, the government has not yet made any such estimate in the case of public toilets.

Pedestrians feel helpless when faced with an emergency to use toilet in the capital, mentioned Ghimire. As squatters´ settlement also lack toilets, the people living there defecate on the banks of the river or on the roadside.Bhaktapur to become ODF in October, Lalitpur constructing disabled-friendly toilets.

Leaving behind Kathmandu and Lalitpur, Bhaktapur district is all set to be declared ODF before the deadline. The smallest district of the country would be declared ODF on October 21 on the occasion of South Asian Conference on Water and Sanitation though it has time till December 2015.
According to Rajendra KC, Local Development Officer of the DDC, Bhaktapur, preparations are under way to achieve the goal. The district level committee has been formed with the participation of DDC, Drinking Water Supply and Sewerage Management Office, locals and NGOs.
The committee has provided Rs 1200 incentives to 650 households who are extremely poor group to build toilets, added KC.

Of the total 16 VDCs, five VDCs such as Balkot, Katunje, Jhaukhel, Sudal and Duwakot have already been declared the ODF zone. The population that has access to toilet in the district is currently 88 percent. The DDC plans to build more public toilets by October.
Likewise, Lalitpur Sub-metropolitan City is constructing 16 disabled-friendly toilets within a year.

Source: Republica Daily


Published on 2013-06-27 03:45:27

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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