On June 22nd, Dailekh district became the 25th district in Nepal, out of a total of 75 districts, to attain the status of becoming fully open-defecation-free (ODF). In the aftermath of the earthquake, it was a long-awaited time for celebration.
This achievement has not been without its struggles. In 2010, when SNV first started working in Dailekh District, only one VDC (village unit) was ODF. While progress occurred steadily towards attaining sanitation coverage with the support of SNV and other INGOs, a turning point occurred last year when key government actors were convinced to fast-track the process and the numerous political parties agreed to join hands in mobilising the population to construct and use toilets. By June 2015, all 49 VDCs and twp municipalities were free from the dangerous practice of open defecation.
The special event was chaired by the Local Development Officer of Dailekh, Mr. Hari Pyakural and the Chief Guest was Mr. Laxmi Pokhrel Prasad, member of the Constituent Assembly. It was celebrated in style with more than 2,000 government, political, civil society and media representatives, townspeople and students rallying through Dailekh town, followed by speeches from dignitaries, songs and dances expressing the importance of becoming open defecation free and awards to honour the many individuals and stakeholders who have contributed to the process so far.
Dailekh District is one of fifteen districts where SNV has been implementing its rural Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) programme, focusing on WASH governance, sanitation demand creation, sanitation supply chains and finance, and hygiene behavioural change communication. Implementing the programme in Dailekh district since 2010 has been possible through funding from the governments of the Netherlands, Australia and the United Kingdom.
SNV Nepal and its long-standing implementing partner Everest Club were honoured in the ceremony, and SNV Advisor, Lek Bikram Shah, and Everest Club Programme Coordinator Mr. Balaram Nepali were given special recognition for their personal contribution to the achievement of the district.
While the district stood at this great juncture, the speakers highlighted that there was still much to be done in the future - the ODF status has to be sustained by ensuring use of toilets by the whole population at all times, and the challenges of achieving total sanitation including practices such as handwashing with soap had to be further addressed.
SNV Nepal is continuing its support to the district under the SSH4A Results Programme which is funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and aims to support more than 240,000 people to improve their sanitation and hygiene situation in seven districts of the country (2014-2018).