Transitioning from open spaces to toilets

Oxfam and partners discuss the importance of constructing toilets in Nuwakot

Oxfam and partners discuss the importance of constructing toilets in Nuwakot. Photo by: Meena Napit/Oxfam

“I now know that maintaining hygiene can save lives,” Surendra says adding, “And I ask all those who have not built toilets to make one.”
Surendra Singh Tamang (51)

Sri Krishna Basnet, Nuwakot

Until some time ago, if you wanted to attend nature’s call at the house of Surendra Singh Tamang (51) and his wife Fulsani Tamang (48) of Betini village development committee of Nuwakot, they would show you a nearby bush. But that is not the case anymore; they have built a toilet close to their house.

It was the wish of Oxfam and its partner KCDC (Kakani Community Development Center) to bring awareness in this region inhabited mostly by the Tamangs. For this, Lilamaya Tamang, social mobilizer of KCDC constantly encouraged the Tamang duo to start using toilet.

Oxfam and KCDC provided them cement, a squatting pan, iron sheets, pipes, siphon, nails and other materials needed to construct a toilet. Then they collected sand, wood, door on their own and built the toilet in just three days. They have kept the toilet clean and they have a bucket full of water inside. Nobody needs to teach them any more to wash their hands with soap and water after using the toilet. They also replenish the toilet supplies such as toilet cleaners, brush, soaps as soon as they are finished.  

            Surendra Tamang's newly constructed toilet. Photo by: Sri Krishna Basnet/Oxfam

But this change did not happen overnight. Fulsani, for instance, had a long experience of using open places for toilet purpose, she found it difficult to use the squatting pans. She said she felt shy using the toilets earlier, and started being comfortable only gradually. Her husband has also changed himself, and he now takes part in cleaning campaigns. He says he know understands the importance of drinking clean water and storing drinking water in closed and safe containers, along with the knowledge of using water purifiers.

“I now know that maintaining hygiene can save lives,” Surendra says adding, “And I ask all those who have not built toilets to make one.”

In order to promote hygiene and good health, Oxfam has been helping people in different communities construct toilets, and also complementing government’s campaign to make open defecation free (ODF) areas. Since April 2015, Oxfam and its partners have built more than 2000 household latrines in earthquake-affected districts.