Bhutan achieves 62 per cent improved sanitation coverage

Three districts and 26 gewogs were recognized today for achieving Open Defecation Free status and 100% improved sanitation.

19 November 2021
A woman stands in-front of her toilet at Kabesa, Punakha
Sonam Pelzom, PHED, MoH

Thimphu, November 19, 2021: Coinciding with the observation of World Toilet Day 2021, three more dzongkhags and 26 additional gewogs achieved 100% improved sanitation coverage in 2021 and have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).

With 129 gewogs and eight dzongkhags achieving ODF status, Bhutan has reached the 62 per cent mark for improved sanitation and ODF status. In addition, 15 gewogs have achieved more than 98%, 16 Gewogs more than 95% and 21 Gewogs more than 90% access to improved sanitation status so far.

Three districts - Dagana, Lhuentse and Trashiyangtse, and 26 blocks (gewogs) (Kana, Dorona, Karmaling, Nichula, Lamoizingkha, Tashiding, Lajab, Tshendagang, Tseza, Drujigang, Goshi, Gangzur, Khamdang, Bjabcho, Lokchina, Getana, Darla, Chapcha, Sershong, Samtenling, Gelephu, Shenga-Bjimi, Barp, Toepisa, Sakten and Udzorong) are recognized for the accomplishment today as Bhutan joins the global community in observing World Toilet Day.

As part of the monitoring system, the ODF certification is instituted to keep track of sanitation progress and to recognize gewogs and dzongkhags for their achievements annually during World Toilet Day.    

The theme for this year’s World Toilet Day is “Valuing toilets” which calls for concerted efforts from all stakeholders in achieving access to sustainable sanitation by all. It reiterates that life without a toilet is dirty, dangerous and undignified and that public health depends on toilets. Toilets also drive improvements in gender equality, education, economy and the environment.

During the World Toilet Day 2020, the Ministry of Health pledged to make Bhutan ODF by the end of 2022.

Recognizing the importance of sanitation and hygiene in reducing the overall disease burden, the Ministry of Health initiated the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (RSAHP) in 2008. RSAHP is a subsidy free and demand driven community-led approach to achieve total sanitation in rural communities. The Programme has now reached all 20 Dzongkhags in an effort to accelerate the progress to achieve 100% access to pour flush toilets and ODF status by the end of 2022.

“We just have a year left to achieve 100 percent access to pour flush toilets. Therefore, I urge all leaders at the Dzongkhag and Gewog levels, CSOs and development partners to put in extra efforts towards  achieving 100 per cent accessibility to sustain and safely managed sanitation and hygiene facilities,” Health Minister, Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said. “The Ministry of Health is committed to providing all necessary support to achieve this national goal. Furthermore, on this year’s World Toilet Day, I urge everyone to take inspiration from His Majesty The King’s selfless leadership and his tireless work in enhancing access to drinking water in the affected communities across the country.”

When some households in a community do not have safe toilets, everyone’s health is threatened. Poor sanitation contaminates drinking-water sources, rivers and food crops, spreading deadly diseases among the wider population. For instance, every $1 invested in basic sanitation returns up to $5 in saved medical costs and increased productivity, and jobs are created along the entire service chain. For women and girls, toilets at home, school, institution and at work help them fulfil their potential and play their full role in society, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.

“SNV is committed to continued collaboration with all relevant WASH partners in achieving inclusive national sanitation and hygiene targets,” said the Country Representative for SNV, Kencho Wangdi.

“Valuing toilets means valuing life. Ensuring access to improved toilet and sanitation facilities are catalytic in ensuring the wellbeing and dignity of the people. UNICEF is committed to work with the RGoB and partners in strengthening WASH services to be more resilient to climate change, environmental degradation and emergencies,” said UNICEF Bhutan Representative Dr Will Parks.


Media contacts

Sonam Pelden
Communication Officer
Tel: +975 17929484
Tel: +975 77714217


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit

Follow UNICEF Bhutan on Twitter and Facebook