First ‘healthy community’ declared in Nepal

July 3rd, 2012

In June, Bagbazzar in central Nepal was declared the first ‘healthy community’.  This village in the Sharadanagar area of Chitwan district now has safe water for drinking, improved sanitation facilities and better hygiene practices as well as managing waste properly.

Improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene have reduced the incidence of water borne diseases especially diarrhoea.  Sharadanagar was declared ODF (open defecation free) area in June 2010, following Practical Action’s SWASHTHA project, which is being implemented with financial support from the European Union and UN Habitat and in partnership with ENPHO (Environment and Public Health Organization), MuAN (Municipal Association of Nepal) and the local authority.

Chitwan was the second district in Nepal to be declared ODF but still more than half population of Nepal defecate openly. The government of Nepal has set a target of 2017 for universal basic sanitation. In August 2011, the Government launched a sanitation master plan based on this national target, emphasising that improvements in sanitation alone cannot provide better health.

The SWASHTHA project team has developed a set of criteria to assess total sanitation in a community or area.  The whole community should have fulfilled the following requirements to declare a healthy community:

  1. Proper use of toilets with access to water
  2. Hand washing with soap or a cleaning agent at critical times(before eating, feeding children, cooking and serving food, after using the toilet and waste handling
  3. Safe handling and treatment of drinking water
  4. Maintenance of personal hygiene (regular nail cutting, bathing, clothes washing, tooth brushing etc.);
  5. Proper solid and liquid waste management inside and outside the home
  6. All households should have toilet and  hand washing facilities
  7. Availability of cleaning equipment at the toilet
  8. Covering food and water
  9. Regular cleaning of rooms, yards, and household compounds
  10. Managed animal sheds
  11. Covered waste water pit
  12. Availability of improved cooking stove/bio-gas and improved kitchen management;
  13. All public institutions should have hygienic toilets with hand washing and proper waste management facilities shown on a map
  14. Community committee message/slogan for healthy community.

The project team prepared a detail checklist to map the community, which was approved by the district committee. A community that obtained a score of more than 80% could be declared a healthy community. An independent survey performed in Bagbazzar secured 84.75%.

10,500 children die each year in Nepal from diarrhoeal disease and 10 billion rupees are lost each year in Nepal through health expenses, loss of productivity and adverse effects on tourism due to poor hygiene and environmental sanitation. The global scenario is even worse; 1.6 million people die each year due to poor water, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources. Each minute three people are dying because of poor WASH conditions. It is therefore urgent to work on integrated WASH improvement and prepare healthy communities not only in Nepal but worldwide.

4 responses to “First ‘healthy community’ declared in Nepal”

  1. Samjhana Bista Says:

    Good to see the impacts visible at community level.

  2. Mansoor Ali Says:

    SWASTHA project, which Binaya has written about is very interesting – because it takes a much holistic view of sanitation – beyond the construction of toilets. As I understand the project is being replicated by others. Something I always like to hear more about.

  3. Binaya Raj Shrestha Says:

    Thank you Mansoor; will come up with more later!!

  4. Binaya Says:

    Thanks Mansoor for your interest on this; will come up with more soon!!

Leave a reply