Chitwan declared free of open defecation amidst great revelry
Chitwan, Central Nepal, 25 September 2011: Chitwan, became the second district in the country to be free of open defecation amidst a very colourful and festive event this afternoon. Speaker of the Constituent Assembly Mr. Subash Chandra Nembang formally launched the programme by raising a green flag, releasing a big balloon with the district's map, and then washing his hands with soap on the stage amidst applause from the over 50,000 men, women and children. The Local Development Officer of Chitwan Mr. Basanta Adhikari had formally announced the district to be free of open defecation.
Before the dignitaries, including Ministers, Parliamentarians and representatives of political parties and various development partners including UNICEF, also all washed their hands with soap, more than 32,000 men women and children also created history by simultaneously washing their hands in the large venue.
The public's commitment to sanitation demonstrated by hand-washing was followed by representatives of all political parties and other dignitaries putting their signatures to a banner that said that they were also committed to ensure that henceforth Chitwan remains open defecation free.
"This is a historical day for Chitwan and an indication of a movement towards an Open Defecation Free Nepal,” said the Speaker Mr. Nembang. “Chitwan has also now joined the ranks of districts that can lead the rest of the country towards the national goal of a toilet in every home by 2017."
Ms. Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative in Nepal expressed her delight at the commitment and dedication shown by the people of Chitwan, "It is extremely heart-warming to see political differences being obliterated in this way. So many representatives of so many political parties coming together for the single purpose – to ensure that from today onwards no one will be defecating in the open in Chitwan," she said. "What a great victory for all the people of Chitwan! A victory over dirt, death, and disease and a bold statement to ensure human dignity and pride of all the people living in Chitwan!"
The day-long celebration initiated by a colourful rally with a dozen elephants, also featured a signature campaign to express people's commitment against open defecation, a fair with cultural performances, sanitation games, collection of urine in EcoSan toilets, as well as stalls selling sanitation materials at subsidised cost.
Today's event was the culmination of a campaign that was started seven years ago when Chitwan was selected as a model district for sanitation in 2004, by the Steering Committee for National Sanitation Action in order to achieve the sanitation-related targets set by the Government of Nepal and the Millennium Development Goal. Chitwan's goal to be the first district with total sanitation by 2009 was delayed due to diverse cumulative factors such as increasing urbanization, problem of settlers, shortage of skilled human resources, unstable political condition, and strikes and shutdowns. Kaski became the nation's first ODF district three months earlier in June 2011.
The Open Defecation-free and Total Sanitation Campaign in Chitwan was conducted in a phased manner after formulating community- to district-level plans in cooperation of local bodies, partnership of all individual stakeholders involved and mobilization of schools. A total of 100,766 permanent toilets, 16,504 temporary toilets, 804 EcoSan toilets and 1,415 common toilets were built for a total 119,489 households under the ODF Campaign. This means that 85 per cent of the households in the district now have permanent toilets and 15 per cent have temporary toilets in contrast to the situation in 1998 when only 49.5 per cent of the households had such toilets. Similarly, 261 out of the 386 schools in the district have been provided with child-friendly toilets, hand washing with soap stations and drinking water have been and the rest have simple toilets and drinking water.
Currently only 43% of households in Nepal have access to sanitation. Poor sanitation and hygiene practices are considered the lead causes for the high prevalence of infectious diseases in the country. Diarrhoea is still the single second largest killer of children in Nepal.
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