The Global Sanitation Fund-supported programme in Nepal

Date: 15th May 2015

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Executing Agency:
Programme duration:
Programme Coordinating Mechanism:
Chaired by the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation

The Nepal programme supports the national campaign to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage by 2017, with a focus on eliminating open defecation and promoting good hygiene practices. The programme works in 19 out of 75 districts, in close cooperation with a diverse WASH partners, including coordinating bodies at various administrative levels. In addition to its behaviour change focus, the programme supports WASH sector capacity development, planning and monitoring activities. Forty implementing partners deliver the programme, which are comprised of local NGOs and government entities.

2016 Highlights

In 2016, the programme continued to support the coordinated national strategy to revive and sustain sanitation in the country, following the devastating 2015 earthquake. In addition, the programme and its partners participated in the Sixth South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-VI) held in Bangladesh. Following the conference and the resulting Dhaka Declaration, the programme has been supporting the Government of Nepal to align its sanitation action plan with the declaration. In November, WSSCC organized a donor visit to Nepal, where donors from Sweden, Finland and Norway engaged with partner agencies and government officials. They also interacted with communities in Arghakhanchi and Bara districts, observing community-led initiatives and innovations to achieve total sanitation beyond ODF status.

At the end of 2016, the programme reported supporting approximately 2.2 million people to live in ODF environments and access improved toilets since its launch. This includes 327 Village Development Committees (VDCs). In addition, work continued to accelerate the southern Terai region during the year, despite political unrest, the high population density and sociocultural barriers. Between 2014 and 2016, sanitation coverage in the Terai has increased from 13 to 60 percent due to active, prioritized and focused support from country partners. The programme has also provided post-ODF support, including technical support for the development of district total sanitation strategies and the recruitment of Sub-grantees to implement post-ODF activities in four districts.


In addition to continued relief and reconstruction challenges following the 2015 earthquake, political unrest in the Terai halted work in the area at the beginning of 2016. Implementing partners in the area have been granted no-cost contract extensions to complete planned activities. In addition, despite progress, ODF results in the Terai are not increasing at rates originally anticipated. The programme is thus analyzing the capacities of VDCs and devising appropriate strategies. To address post-ODF sustainability, the programme is supporting VDCs to develop post-ODF strategies to move communities up the sanitation ladder. In addition, urban municipalities have recently grown from from 58 to 217, creating an increasing need to address urban sanitation. The programme has therefore been increasingly engaging urban development agencies, providing capacity development support to district WASH coordinating bodies, and incorporating urban sanitation in its post-ODF support.

Learning and innovation

Sustainability study

In 2016, the Nepal programme commissioned an independent sustainability study to identify whether households, institutions and communities in ODF declared areas have continued to use and properly maintain improved toilets and hand washing facilities.

The findings show that household sanitation practices and community behaviours have greatly improved in the ODF declared VDCs since the start of the programme. Over 97 percent of households surveyed in 2016 were found to have toilets, over 93 percent had access to improved latrines, and 97 percent reported using soap and water for handwashing. Very minor differences in access to improved toilets were observed between household wealth quintiles, which suggests that equity aspects have been effectively addressed by the programme. The study provides evidence that the Nepal ODF campaign has developed into a strong movement with increasing involvement and support from government, civil society and private sector actors.

Despite these positive results, one in ten households were found to have reverted to open defecation, and this increased to 15 percent in villages that had been ODF for longer.

The results have critical implications on future programming and post-ODF follow up mechanisms in Nepal. Following the publication of the study in 2017, the programme will reflect on these findings and devise strategies to incorporate the recommendations.

Other activities 

Innovative approaches used in the programme have included involving law enforcement in sanitation campaigns and mobilizing door-to-door individual donations to support the sanitation needs of the poorest community members. The programme has also facilitated ‘ODF mission camps’ through which triggering teams are stationed in communities over a seven-day period. In addition, through a ‘sanitation card’ system, implementing partners distribute red, blue and green cards to households without toilets, households with improved toilets and households with biogas-enabled toilets respectively. Households with blue and green cards can use them to obtain various services, such as passport processing. Those with red cards must build latrines before obtaining these services.

Looking ahead

Going forward, the programme will continue to support post-earthquake recovery and increase its post-ODF focus to align with the Sustainable Development Goals. According to government data, improved sanitation coverage in the country is now at 87 percent, which includes ODF VDCs, access to improved toilets and access to handwashing facilities according to national standards. The programme will continue to support the Government’s efforts to meet the 100 percent target, while also working to meet programme targets.

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