Reported By: Anjani Joshi and Nishchhal Kharal
As a part of Nepal National Water Week 2013, Small Earth Nepal (SEN) in support with Practical Action organized a visit to Total Sanitation Community in Sharadanagar area at Chitwan on 18 March, 2013. The main objective of the visit was to learn the importance of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for the healthy living of the community and to identify behind the scene story of ‘Sharadanagar Area’ in making it ‘Open defecation free’ and ‘First Healthy Community’ as declared in Nepal. The visit incorporated 27 participants from a diverse background including journalists, VDC level government officials, women groups, students and Nepal Tunza Youth Environment Network (NTYEN) team.
Initially, the participants travelled from Kathmandu to Chitwan. The official program was conducted in Red Karpet Restaurant. The program began with the introduction of the participants which was followed by the short speech from Sudarshan Rajbhandari, Vice- President of SEN. He gave a brief overview of the visit and the celebration of Nepal National Water Week 2013. The program was forwarded by a presentation from Mr. Dev Datta Bhatta from Practical Action. He gave a brief overview of a four year long project ‘SWASTHA’ (Strengthening Water, Air, Sanitation and Hygiene Treasuring Health). The project addressed the five major components for healthy living which included Safe Water, Better Sanitation, Personal Hygiene, Kitchen Management and Solid Waste Management. The success story of Bagabazzar Community, which was recently declared as “The First Healthy Community of Nepal”, was also presented and was followed by the video documentary show of Bagabazzar Community.
After the lunch, the team was taken to Bagabazzar Community, Sharadanagar VDC, Chitwan. The project officer along with the community people kindly welcomed the team and gave the information regarding the project. The team was then divided into two groups to visit the community. Participants were shown the living standard of the people and their effort to bring change within themselves in ‘Sanitation’. Utilization of Local Resources was encouraged by the SWASTHA project. Handpumps and toilets could be seen in every household. Toilets were different in size, shape and structure, according to the financial capacity of family. Practical Action supported the community in hardware like Ring and Pan but the focus was in software like behaviour and perception of the people. ‘Health and Hygiene’ was the major concern of the project. The team were also shown the ‘Eco-san Toilet’ consisting of two different pans for urine and stool. Institutional toilets were also constructed and used in the community by the community people.
Beside this the team also observed the community contribution to reduce ‘Indoor Air Pollution’. The locally acceptable knowledge to remove the indoor air pollution was introduced in each and every house. Kitchen Rack Management was also crucial aspect in kitchen management and sanitation, and this concept was easily accepted by the people. The team also observed ‘Managed Animal Sheds’, ‘Covered Waste Water pit’, ‘Covering Food and Water’ by the community people. The people practiced regular cleaning of rooms, yards, and household compound which transformed the community into clean and safe.
At the end, a closing ceremony was conducted within the community as a discussion with the community people, project authority and the participants. The community people were extremely happy with the project and the change they have brought through their effort in their living condition especially focusing on ‘Water and Sanitation’. One of the women in the community also expressed, “Although the project has been completed, we won’t let our community to go to its past stages rather we will work on to improve the sanitation and hygienic condition of the community.” This kind of attitude among the people has now made the community strong itself in all the change they have brought through.
Overall, the field visit was quite helpful to all the participants. The team got the opportunity to learn about the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in order to improve the healthy living of the community.