A girl cleaning the toilet inShantikaman Tole, Kanchanpur
Shantikamana Tole is one of the most crowded settlements in Bhimdutta Municipality of Kanchanpur District. The settlement consists of 56 households with a heterogeneous community, having members of various ethnic groups.
The majority of the households subsist on daily wages earned through menial labor. Houses in this community are attached to each other, leaving little or no space for separate toilets for each household.
Previously, 295 people defecated in open places. Consequently, there was a higher incidence of water-borne diseases in the community. There was no proper waste management scheme in place. This led to frequent outbreaks of various diseases.
The situation changed after USAID’s Safe WASH II Activity was implemented in Kanchanpur District. It has contributed to improving the health behavior of the people and the overall sanitation status of the community.
All of this was not possible without the efforts of the project staff and community members. The staff organized meetings with household members to familiarize them with the concepts of sanitation and hygiene. They also oriented them to adopt healthy practices and convinced them to build toilets. Their advocacy for sanitation and hygiene continued. It also took them to open ‘defecation field’s in the wee hours, when they blew whistles to stop the bad practice and to remind people of sanitation and hygiene. After the implementation of Safe WASH II Activity, the communities were motivated to build toilets and adopt healthy practices. At present, the community has 16 individual household toilets and 21 communal toilets.
“The change is visible,” says Sushila Urau, a local resident, “There are fewer cases of diarrhea and skin disease this year, as compared to previous years.”
The project revisited the households and the families they supported and was gratified that the families are using their toilets. They also clean the toilets regularly and keep their surroundings clean. More children have developed the habit of using toilets as well as washing hands properly. The community leader, Dev Kumari Chaudhary, adds, “The community has realized the importance of functional toilets and sanitation. So much so, they saved money for toilet construction.” The Safe WASH II Activity has helped the community live a dignified and healthier life. The people of Shantikamana Tole have declared it an ‘open defecation free’ community.