To make the ODF zones campaign a success public awareness and development of required infrastructure must go side by side
The government and political parties in 2011 had vowed to make Nepal Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2017. As things stand now it looks unlikely that this will be achieved.
The then government had made a National Sanitation and Hygiene Plan (2011-17) with the intention of attaining 100 per cent Total Behavioral Change with the ODF and also WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in all the 75 districts of the country.
Usually the ODF zone declarations are made in a showy manner and with a lot of fanfare. These often do away with the spirit and the sustainability of the whole exercise.
The District Development Committees (DDC) have been instructed by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development to celebrate them without being lavish and spending the much needed money by, other things, not having paid musical bands, cultural processions as are happening now.
Moreover, the DDCs should strive to achieve maximum participation of the local groups, communities, schools and other such organizations.
The criteria under which ODF zones can be declared should be made known to the common man. Although such zones have been declared they have not been able to sustain the campaign as we find the rules being openly violated.
The authorities should see to it that there are more public toilets. The dearth of such is seen even in the capital with the denizens having to endure inconvenience when they have to answer the call of nature. Furthermore, the few public toilets do not have running water adding to the agonies of the capital residents.
The goal is to implement policies and infrastructure to see to it that the ODF zones are clearly such areas. It is important to have at least one toilet in every house. The public toilets should be there in areas where they are needed the most especially in areas where a large number of people gather.
There should also be public toilets to be used by the physically disabled which is sorely lacking.
To add to the woes of the public huge disparities have been reported among the regions, districts and villages as far as such zones are concerned. However, we can see a light in the horizon from the data collected from the 2011 census.
According to it there are indications that the access to water supply and sanitation hovers around 85 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively. Thus, it is evident that Nepal has succeeded in meeting the MDGs goal and is doing even better.
To make the ODF zones campaign a success public awareness and development of required infrastructure must go side by side. They should be taught simple ways to do so by such things as washing hands before meals and after going to the toilet.
Moreover, those found not abiding by the ODF zone should be punished. We can see many answering the call of nature wherever they desire without being prevented from doing so as there is no provision as such to punish them.
As Nepal appears to have succeeded in meeting the target set by MDGs in some sectors it is high time the public were provided with the much needed sanitary facilities.
As such, we have still much to do to put the declaration in practice and declare more similar zones.
Seasonal viral influenza has gripped a large part of the impoverished Bajura district recently.
Poor sanitation, regular consumption of contaminated water and change of weather have been blamed for the spread of viral influenza since last week.
Local health workers said that as many as 30 people visit the nearest health post every day for medical consultation.
Twenty-eight health posts located in the district have been providing health services to the people inflicted by the viral influenza that can be cured if attention is given to personal health and hygiene.
With the large number of people visiting almost all the health posts, officials at the District Health Office have warned that medicines would run out of stock if the number of patients continues unabated.
Many people suffer from seasonal viral influenza in the hilly districts of mid and far-west regions when the winter season starts after the recess of monsoon.
It is therefore advised that the Department of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division keep itself on high alert for rapid response to possible outbreak of viral influenza that killed many people in the past due to poor handling of the situation.
A version of this article appears in print on September 23, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.