By Renu Kshetry
KATHMANDU, Nepal – Celebrating this year’s World Toilet Day, sanitation experts gathered in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu to renew their commitment to availability, accessibility, and affordability of WASH services across the country.
In a discussion forum held by the Society of Public Health Engineers on 19 November, Mr Ganesh Shah, a senior member of this non-governmental organization and the former Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, emphasized that the government and other major stakeholders must ensure that safely managed public toilets are available and include gender- and child-friendly toilets for sustainable sanitation and hygiene.
The appeal for technical and financial support to achieve total sanitation by 2030 comes right after the Government of Nepal certified and declared all 77 districts open defecation free (ODF) in September.
The “total sanitation” campaign is a continuation of the ODF movement with a comprehensive package, which encompasses indicators of sanitation such as the use of a toilet, use of safe water, use of safe food, the practice of handwashing with soap, practice of cleaning house and surroundings, and keeping a clean environment.
“We need to assign the roles and responsibilities of major stakeholders and donor agencies for total sanitation at federal, provincial and local levels,” said Mr Devendra Jha, Member-Secretary of Nepal’s National Sanitation Hygiene Coordination Committee (NSHCC).
Mr Meena Shrestha, Deputy Director-General of Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management (DWSSM) said that the government and other development partners are taking seriously the retention of ODF status, which needs to be considered as a matter of concern as they push for total sanitation under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
“The government is committed to achieving SDG 6 on sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and is exploring ways on how to properly address fecal sludge management,” said Mr Shrestha.
UN-Habitat, the executing agency of WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund-supported programme in Nepal, has focused on the institutionalization of total sanitation by enhancing the capacity of municipalities and stakeholders on total sanitation strategies, plans and concepts.
The support provided by UN-Habitat also includes budget allocations for strengthening coordination, planning and monitoring mechanisms, and information management and reporting system
While experts exchanged ideas and learning experiences, more than 300 young women and men took to the streets to mark World Toilet Day in Kathmandu. A walkathon named “A Walk for Toilet” was organized to raise awareness of sanitation in Nepal and build solidarity to ensure that toilets are safe, clean, and accessible for all.
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