Tag Archives: Bhutan

Millions mark UN hand-washing day

Millions of children around the world are marking the United Nations’ first Global Handwashing Day.

In India, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar will be leading the campaign that will see children across South Asia simultaneously washing their hands.

The UN says it wants to get over the message that this simple routine is one of the most effective ways of preventing killer diseases.  (…)

(…) From Kabul to Karachi and from Delhi to Dhaka, millions of children will take part in the campaign and pledge to embrace more hygienic practices by the simple act of washing their hands.  India has recruited one of the country’s biggest sporting icons, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, to be the face of the campaign. Washing hands will be the topic of Afghan television and radio talk shows and Pakistani newscasts.  Nepal’s new Maoist government is sending out mobile text messages. In Bhutan, special animated videos have been made with Bhutanese characters (…)

Read all BBCNews.co.uk and UNICEF, 14 Oct 2008

Bhutan: despite the “toilet revolution”, high coverage has not lead to high use

Having worked as a primary health care professional for over a decade, Dr. Damber Kumar Nirola, Psychiatrist at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has “witnessed a slow but steady “toilet revolution” over the years”. He personally witnessed the “the evolution of toilets from open fields to gunny sack structures to simple pits to ventilated pits to pour flush to water closet, and the most recent western type of commode”.

Dr. Nirola’s “earliest recollection of a “toilet” was a relatively flat stone located some fifty feet away from our house, which could fit at least three children at once. This stone was positioned in such a way that faeces would fall directly to the slope below. Open defecation was a problem only when it rained; we’d get soaked and also fall prey to leeches. Another problem were stray mongrels, which would appear behind us without warning to devour the fresh excreta, at times even offering to clean us up!”

In the 1990s a sanitation campaign was launched in Bhutan, which resulted by 2000 in “almost 100% latrine coverage”.

“In spite of such progress”, Dr. Nicola laments, “we still find our public toilets clogged with sticks and stones, and with faeces scattered on our footpaths even in cities! Something is amiss! Are we slipping back in time or have we failed to evolve with our toilets?”

“Although the provision of latrines is relatively high, the conditions are very poor and the amount of usage is low, ” says Ugyen Rinzine, chief engineer of the public health engineering division. Although rural people had adequate knowledge on water and sanitation-related diseases, there was little change in their behaviour. “This is because of a lack of appropriate communication approach with rural communities and the absence of choice of latrine technologies.”

In May 2008, the public health engineering division organised a workshop on rural sanitation, which discussed plans to implement a community led total sanitation (CLTS) strategy and proposals for a national rural sanitation and hygiene programme. A scoping study conducted by SNV Bhutan in 2007 found that the sanitation situation in community schools and religious institutions (temples and monastic schools) in Bhutan was poor.

The non-use of sanitation facilities is illustrated by the case of Trongsa town. “Despite having two ‘pay and use’ toilets, which have been out of use for about six years”. “Today, only a few dogs visit the one storey toilet in Thruepang” and “the municipal sweeper uses the other toilet as a residence”.

The public toilets were not used because of their location outside the main town area and because people weren’t willing to pay. “Although the municipal office had planned to repair and reuse the facilities, the municipality did not have funds”.

Sources: Dr Damber Kumar Nirola, Kuensel Online, 11 Aug 2008 ; Tandin Wangchuk, Kuensel Online, 01 May 2008 ; Tashi Dema, Kuensel Online, 07 Jul 2008

See also: Training on participatory approaches, Bhutan, IRC, Dec 2007

Bhutan, Gelephu: mosquitoes breed in delayed sewerage system

Stagnant waters fill the trenches dug all over town and pipes lie along the roadside. Gelephu’s modern sewerage system, aimed at improving hygiene and sanitation and controlling mosquitoes in summer, is now helping to breed mosquitoes.

[The sewerage system] was supposed to have been completed on February 4 this year but got delayed because of the unavailability of sewerage pipes, the heavy monsoon last year and lack of manpower, according to Gelephu municipal officials. The deadline was extended to June 4, but this time the unavailability of the master pipe [of the required quality and price] is the cause of delay.


Meanwhile, Gelephu residents are not only concerned about the delay but also with the cost of getting connected to the network. Gelephu residents will have to bear the cost of connecting their private houses to the main sewer line, unlike Thimphu and Phuentsholing residents where the connection was done free.


In the first phase of the DANIDA-funded project, Nu 26 million was being spent to lay a network of underground sewer lines in the core area of the town to connect 350 households to the sewer network.


The sewer network will flow into a Nu 34 million treatment plant, that is being constructed below the vegetable market, about 400 metres from the Indo-Bhutan border.

Source: Tashi Dema, Kunesel Online, 24 Jul 2008

Bhutan: International Sanitation Day observed

On 12 April students from the capital Thimphu performed dances and skits with the theme “Sanitation Matters” to observe International Sanitation Day/World Water Day. Even though water and sanitation are government priorities and coverage levels have increased, water-related diseases are still among the leading causes of child mortality in Bhutan. The World Food Programme (WFP) is channeling funds to UNICEF for school sanitation. SNV Netherlands Development Organisation plans to implement a Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme.

Read more: Source South Asia, 1 May 2008