Aum Mindu’s pour flush toilet
Following the roll-out of the Community Development for Health (CDH) workshop in the Toep gewog (sub-district), all households wasted no time in collecting materials to build a pour flush toilet. While everyone in the village was busy planning for their toilets, Aum Mindu, a 75-year old woman living with her 15-year old granddaughter in a small village called Lunjam, was in no position to build a pour flush toilet herself. This is their household’s story.
Although the gewog was quick to support Aum Mindu with the materials needed for her pour flush toilet, she had to first discuss the possibility of toilet construction with her 15-year old granddaughter; the household’s breadwinner. This is because actual construction would require Aum Mindu’s granddaughter to divert part of her earnings to build the toilet.
After a few months, I returned to the gewog for a community visit to monitor and supervise the sanitation and hygiene progress being made. I was amazed at the progress of the two super ladies! Over-exceeding my expectations, I was surprised to see that their pour flush toilet was 90% complete.
Toilet in use before sanitation demand triggering
A sturdy and new private toilet for household use; after demand triggering
Teary eyed, Aum Mindu said, ‘my hope and dreams came true because of my hardworking granddaughter.’ Following their earlier conversation (about toilet construction) Aum Mindu’s granddaughter has been consistently setting aside Nu. 500 (AU$ 10) from her daily wage. With dedication and a positive attitude, Aum Mindu and her granddaughter’s experience showed that nothing is impossible. In total, the pour flush toilet cost the household approximately Nu. 9,000 (AU$ 180), excluding labour charges.
Reporting live from Toep Gewog, Khandu Sonam
Celebrating their success, a key take-away message for me is related to the importance of behaviour change and follow-up processes. In my view, although changing behaviour takes time, when you convince people with the right messages and through consistent encouragement, wonders are bound to happen – today and for future generations. The creation of a task force to regularly monitor change and progress is also one success factor that has been key to sustain sanitation and hygiene improvements.
Contributor: Khandu Sonam, Health Assistant, Thinleygang PHC
Note: This story is part of a blog series by SNV in Bhutan's sanitation and hygiene partners in local government and health care facilities. In this blog series, partners reflect on past and present sanitation and hygiene activities that have been (or are being) rolled out by SNV through the Government of Bhutan's Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (RSAHP). SNV activities in the country are supported by the Australian Government's Water for Women Fund.
For more information, contact: Thinley Dem, Behavioural Change Communications Advisor, SNV in Bhutan