Dev Bhatta

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Recommended reading: http://www.practicalaction.org

Posts by Dev

  • An inclusive toilet in Nepal brings smiles to the third gender

    Gulariya, Nepal, Laukahi
    February 3rd, 2016

    In the second week of January, I was on a regular monitoring visit of the SAFA & SWASTHA Gulariya project. As per the plan, I headed to the public toilet site in Gulariya bazaar. Reaching the site, I was amazed to see a large group of third gender colleagues around the public toilet.

    I could see delighted faces beaming with joy. Everybody had come together to see themselves being recognised. It was quite hard for me to believe that such a small initiative would bring them such happiness.

    Sapana is happy with the inclusive public toilet in GulariyaI was eager and meet with Sapana Chaudhary (39). She is from Basagadi Municipality 4, Bardiya and currently lives in Gulariya bazaar. Sapana is working with Sundar Sansar; a local NGO as a president. The NGO has seven executive members and 303 general members.

    Sapana was enthusiastic and said the problems the third gender had to face brought her to tears time and again. She told me, “If we go to the electricity office to pay the bills, there are only two sections – for male and female separated with photos; but we can’t find a section for third gender so we feel distressed.”

    She added, “One day, I was travelling to Kathmandu and on the way, the bus stopped at Lamahi, Dang. I went to a public toilet but saw the photos of male and female only. So, I went to an open space to answer the call of nature. Seeing that, the security personnel came to me and forcefully asked to collect the urine. I was terrified and asked him where I should go. I further told him to construct an inclusive toilet. I felt miserable at that time also.”

     

    Sapana continued, “During speeches in workshops or mass meetings, speakers generally welcome male and female addressing as brothers and sisters or mothers and fathers but nobody recognises thethird gender. We feel as if we have been neglected and are not getting due recognition.”

    Sapana and her team members are advocating at community and district level for recognition as well as for their rights through various awareness raising activities.

    In support of their campaign, the ‘Open Defecation Free Gulariya Municipality by 2015’ project has constructed a public toilet in Gulariya bazaar jointly with the Gulariya Municipality to promote improved sanitation for all. The toilet is inclusive with separate facilities for male, female and third gender including disabled friendly.

    Practical Action has been implementing the two-year project in Gulariya Municipality, Bardiya District in Nepal since August 2014. The project is funded by DFID under UK Aid match fund and is being implemented through Environment and Public Health Organisation (ENPHO) a national NGO.

    Sapana and her colleagues are very happy with this facility. She said the toilet is near the bus stop, so many people can see the inclusive facility. This will help with replication in their respective districts. It is also helping to spread the word about recognition for the third gender in other districts.

    The toilet is located in an appropriate place so they don’t have trouble using it during workshops, training and other events.

    Additionally, the new constitution of Nepal has addressed their agenda. Now, they will be recognised as third gender on citizenship certificates and there will be no gender based discrimination.

    Sapana concluded “For us, this is a prestigious achievement. We would like to thank Practical Action, ENPHO and Gulariya Municipality for promoting such facility.”

    It is a small effort towards gender equality and social inclusion. However, it needs to be addressed at each and every level to achieve sustainable development in the country.

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  • Gender equality and social inclusion in ODF Gulariya project

    Gulariya, Nepal, Laukahi
    December 25th, 2015

    Gender inequality and social exclusion are issues of global concern. Over the last decade, Asia and the Pacific region have made remarkable progress on these issues. Nepal is no exception. The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Government of Nepal has been executing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Building Construction, Housing and Urban Development (BCHUD) sector programmes throughout the country. It has recognised that the programmes in these sectors have not adequately incorporated gender mainstreaming and other social development concerns in their policies, programmes, services and institutional arrangements so far.

    Practical Action has prioritised gender equality and social inclusion as one of the cross cutting themes working across all its projects and programmes.

    Practical Action has been implementing a two-year project entitled “SAFA & SWASTHA Gulariya (Open Defecation Free Gulariya Municipality by 2015)” in Gulariya Municipality, Bardiya District in Nepal since August 2014. The project is funded by DFID under UK Aid match funding and is being implemented through ENPHO (Environment and Public Health Organisation), a national NGO. The project is integrating gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in all its activities as a cross-cutting issue.

    In the areas that the project is being implemented as well as in other parts of the country, women and girls are affected by the lack of sanitation facilities which has an adverse effect not only on their health and hygiene, but also on their safety, education, dignity and quality of life. Additionally, women are being mobilised at the community level as part of sanitation campaigns and movements. However we have learnt that both men and women should be targeted while carrying out sanitation related awareness activities as men and women prioritise and perceive sanitation differently. Likewise, individuals from excluded or minority groups and those from poor and marginalised areas may not be able to adopt new hygiene behaviours or build improved sanitation facilities. In such a context, the project aims to ensure the needs of women and men from a range of social groups (including the marginalised) and are taken into account, the effective participation is promoted at all levels prioritising GESI.

    Gender equality and social inclusion is integrated in the project activities by following approaches;

    Participatory Planning Process

    The project has supported to develop community action plans with participation from urban-poor/slum dwellers comprising mostly marginalised groups within the municipality. As these communities are mostly missed out in the local government planning process, the project enabled them to include their needs in the municipal planning process and have them addressed by the municipality. Local people now understand the importance of planning rather than demanding improvements on an ad-hoc basis.

     Effectiveness

    IMG_3804The project had adopted low cost toilet promotion approach with ‘7 B’ option. The 7 B stands for the seven different types of locally available materials which can be used for the construction of super structures which are: bamboo, bag (jute or plastic bags), bush (hay), bricks, boulders (stone masonry), blocks, and blend (mixture of two or more materials).  It can be expected that these options support the poorest and socially excluded groups to have access to toilets and supporting an informed choice to meet the needs of all users.

    Behavioural change communication

    Different kinds of behaviour change activities were carried out by using messages targeted at different audiences; using appropriate communication channels; avoiding stereotypes that reinforce gender inequality and social exclusion; using the language and traditions of excluded groups to reinforce change; and promoting informal discussions about menstrual hygiene and household decision making processes.

    Improved sanitation for all

    Gulariya Municipality has achieved life-changing improvements in sanitation. All 60,379 (29,300 female) residents including marginalised groups have benefited from improved sanitation and live in an open defecation-free environment. In the past, when there were no toilets, the majority of the community people defecated in open fields or bushes. Open defecation was humiliating, risky and shameful for women and girls who often had to wait until it was dark to ensure privacy. It was very difficult for those females who were elderly,  had young children, sick and pregnant to go to bushes. Ending open defecation has transformed the lives of women and girls who faced the daily humiliation of having to struggle to find somewhere to go each day for their basic needs, risking sexual harassment and abuse due to not having a toilet.  Access to sanitation is central to defending women’s dignity and equality as well as their safety.

    Inclusive public toilet

    A public toilet is under construction in Gulariya Bazaar in partnership with Gulariya Municipality and the project. This structure will have separate facilities for male, female and third gender.

    Mobilisation of local change agents

    Female community health volunteers, trained on WASH operate in the communities so that women and girls have no hesitation in discussing their sanitation issues openly.

    Project staff

    More than half of the social mobilisers are female which supports easy communication with the women (particularly in Muslim communities). Special attention is paid in the timings of orientation and awareness campaigns, so that women from different groups can easily participate.

    Creating demand for sanitation

    Triggering activities from demand creation approaches such as community-led total sanitation (CLTS) require the participation of all community members. Whilst women’s participation is often high, a lack of men’s participation can reduce uptake of sanitation facilities in families where men control household expenditure. Monitoring the sex, class and ethnic background of participants in triggering processes and subsequent meetings has helped the programme to identify excluded parties and adapt strategies.

    Hence, to achieve safe and sustainable sanitation for all, it needs to address disparities between social groups and advancing gender equality and social inclusion which are critical steps in achieving the project goal.

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  • A man who sold his mobile to build an improved toilet is a role model in his community

    July 10th, 2015

    Ramkishor Khaira, 38, the head of a household of eight from Khairanjhal Tole, Gulariya Municipality, Bardiya radiates with pride over his newly constructed toilet including a bathroom.

    Ramkishor recalls, “I worked in Malaysia as a wage labourer for three years. After I went back, I wanted to construct a toilet at my household but wondered how I would manage the financial resources to build it. Finally, I decided to sell my mobile to start toilet construction.”

    Ramkishor shows his improved toilet

    Ramkishor shows his improved toilet

    He sold his mobile for NPR 20,000 (£129) and started to build a toilet including bathroom. He was unable to complete the structure within this budget. So, he also sold his buffalo and completed the construction that costed NPR 40,000 (£258).

    Previously, he and his family members faced a lot of problems from not having a toilet. Ramkishor’s mother Jalabarshi Khaira, aged 60 says, “It was very difficult for my family to go to the bushes. There was always fear of snakes and it was a huge trouble during rainy season and at night time. When a guest arrived in the community, it was embarrassing if they were not used to defecating in the open. Various water borne diseases were common mainly among children in my family. The three children in our house suffered from diarrhoea frequently about 3-4 times a year. We used to spend around NRs 7,000 (£45) to 9,000 (£58) a year on medical expenses.”

    Ramkishor’s mother Jalabarshi Khaira is happy to have a toilet.

    Ramkishor’s mother Jalabarshi Khaira is happy to have a toilet.

    But things have changed for the family now and they are very pleased with this change. Ramkishor shares, “Because of the toilet, my home and surrounding environment is cleaner, odourless and healthier. It is more convenient for my family. I do not regret selling my mobile phone as I got this great facility as a replacement.”

    He provides four full-proof reasons that compelled him to construct a toilet:

    1. Getting used to using toilets in Malaysia
    2. Pressure from his wife
    3. A video documentary  on sanitation organised by SAFA & SWASTHA Gulariya project and
    4. The provision of sanitation cards commenced by Gulariya Municipality

    Practical Action and Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) launched SAFA & SWASTHA Gulariya project in August 2014 for two years in collaboration with Gulariya Municipality with the objective of declaring an Open Defecation Free Gulariya Municipality by 2015. The project operates with innovative community mobilisation approaches through HCES (Household Centered Environmental Sanitation), CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) and SLTS (School Led Total Sanitation) for activating communities to progressively work towards stopping open defecation in the entire municipality.

    Jalabarshi, Ramkishor’s mother, now feels dignified using the toilet, “I learnt about the adverse effects of open defecation. I did not want to be the one causing pollution and exposing other people to risks. So, I easily acknowledged the proposal of my son. I find it very convenient using it instead of going to the bushes. This gives me privacy to do my business with dignity. And our children have not fallen sick for the last seven months after the construction of the toilet.”

    Ramkishor’s household has become a role model in his community as many started following his example and constructed toilets in the same design as his. Apart from Ramkishor’s example, his fellow community members participated in behaviour change campaigns organised by SAFA & SWASTHA Gulariya project which emphasise the significance of improved sanitation and hygiene. This motivated them to have their own toilets.UK AID

    Now the entire community of Khairanjhal has become Open Defecation Free (ODF) as all 71 households have broken off from the traditional practice of defecating in the open after constructing improved toilets in their homes. This proves that change starts from a single person.

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  • Gulariya Municipality declared “Open Defecation Free”

    June 4th, 2015

    On Monday, 25 May 2015, I headed to Gulariya to participate in the declaration ceremony of Gulariya Municipality as “Open Defecation Free” (ODF).  I was amazed to see the huge crowd enjoying cultural music bands in the backdrop, with indigenous groups like Tharu, Pahadi and Godiya in their traditional costumes singing and dancing to the music. I could see delighted faces beaming with joy, everybody had come together to celebrate the success – the fruit of the hard work they had contributed to.

    Constituent Assembly (CA) member Hon. Sanjay Kumar Gautam inaugurating the ODF declaration ceremony

    Constituent Assembly (CA) member Hon. Sanjay Kumar Gautam inaugurating the ODF declaration ceremony

    It was quite hard for me to believe that we finally succeeded in turning Gulariya Municipality into an ODF zone.

    Reminiscing about the situation seven months back, only 53 per cent households had toilets in the municipality. People from around 5,134 households used to go to the bushes or river banks for open defecation.

    But things have changed for better since the Constituent Assembly member Hon. Sanjay Kumar Gautam made the much-anticipated declaration, “As of 25 May 2015; Gulariya Municipality has been declared as Open Defecation Free” at the ODF declaration event.

    The ODF status was achieved with construction of 11,246 toilets (Individual – 10,922, institutional – 319, and public – 5) and discontinuing the common practice of defecating in the open. As of now 60,379 (female – 29,300) people in Gulariya will gain access to an open defecation-free environment. During the ceremony, the audience expressed their delight and I applauded along with them. I was glad to be part of the celebration.

    Locals including the high level government officials like Chief District Officer, Local Development Officer and Chief Executive Officer of the municipality, political leaders, representatives from I/NGOs, students and media had all come together, eager to celebrate the success in such a short period of time.

    The chief guest, Sanjay Kumar Gautam opined during the event, “The achievement of ODF status is an inspiration towards national target on sanitation – universal access to sanitation by 2017, and will contribute to the Millennium Development Goal’s (MDG) sanitation target.”

    UK AID“For us, this event is a major success, as all of us have worked very hard and this is a gratifying moment. This event should be taken as a motivating factor by other municipalities; especially terai region throughout Nepal for expediting their action towards declaring themselves as ODF,” said Dharma Raj Neupane, Chief Executive Officer, Gulariya Municipality.  “We would like to thank Practical Action and all the agencies who have worked hard to make this possible.”

     

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  • Communities live with dignity after ODF declaration

    March 26th, 2015

    It sounds simple to people who have access to basic sanitation facilities. But a technology as simple as a pit latrine is a subject of luxury for a lot of people. It is an alarming fact that even today, more than half of Nepal’s population defecate in open. The trends are changing gradually and the people living in urban areas have fancy bathrooms in their homes, but there still are a huge number of people who do not have access to this very basic facility.

    Only six months ago, people from 197 households in Balapur in Gulariya Municipality-6, Bardiya District of Nepal defecated in open. In a community comprising of total 274 households, only 50 had biogas toilets. Kali Prasad Chaudhary, the Chair of Ward Citizen Forum, recalls the situation caused by regular floods sweeping away limited temporary toilets, lack of awareness and habit of open defecation.

    There were a number of organisations implementing different projects in this community but sanitation was given the least priority. Chaudhary shares, “When a guest would arrive in the community, it used to be an embarrassing situation if they were not used to defecating in open. Various water borne diseases were common mainly among children and elderly people. Instead of getting to know the actual reason behind people would blame God if somebody died.”

    But things have changed for better for this community. At this stage, five communities of Balapur have become Open Defecation Free (ODF) as 247 households have broken off from the traditional practice of defecating in the open after constructing toilets at their homes.

    Indira Chaudhary (34) one of the community member says, “I learned about the negative effects of open defecation, and I did not want to be the one contributing to the pollution of environment and exposing other people to risks. I find it very convenient to use a toilet instead of going to the bush. This gives me privacy to do my business with dignity.” Her five member family is very happy to have a bio-gas toilet installed at their home.

    This change became possible in the community after, Practical Action and Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) launched SAFA & SWASTHA Gulariya project in August 2014 for two years in collaboration with Gulariya municipality including other INGOs with an objective to declare an Open Defecation Free Gulariya Municipality by 2015. The project operates with an innovative community mobilisation approaches through HCES (Household Centered Environmental Sanitation), CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) and SLTS (School Led Total Sanitation) for activating communities to progressively work towards stopping open defecation in the entire municipality.

    Indira Chaudhary  cleaning up her toilet

    Indira Chaudhary cleaning up her toilet

    According to Kali Prasad Chaudhary, “Among all these initiatives, the video documentary and street drama shows on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) were found to be effective in touching the hearts of community people.”

    Likewise, Ram Prasad Chaudhary from Gulariya Municipality opines, “In accordance with the national target on sanitation, Gulariya Municipality has committed to achieve ODF in the municipality by 2015. To make this mission a success, we have started provision of sanitation card.” He claimed that the success of ODF declaration in Balapur was due to the sanitation card.

    The understanding of Sabitra Gautam, President of W WASH CC (Ward WASH Coordination Committee) is different than that others. She claimed that bal hath and stri hath (recurring pressure from children and female respectively) played crucial role to success the mission. From her statement, it is clear that there was repeated effort of children and female to construct toilets.

    “Now, we are living with pride and dignity due to improved sanitation facilities in the community,” said Kali Prasad Chaudhary. “It is not easy for poor families from indigenous groups to spare money required to build their individual toilets when it can be done for free in the fields. Balapur people thank Gulariya Municipality, Practical Action, UN Habitat, ENPHO, W WASH CC and all involved TLOs for their tireless effort to make this happen and succeeding in declaring entire Balapur community Open Defecation Free (ODF).”

    UK AIDIt was not possible from a little effort to construct all the toilets (197) within a short period of time. The joint effort of community people, local institutions and district level stakeholders coming together, working towards ODF target made the mission possible and thus, the people from Balapur could have access to this basic sanitation facility. The importance of such thing a lot of times gets overlooked, but access to technologies like a simple toilet helps people to build a life pride and dignity.

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