On 17 May 2016 at 10:21, Bipin Poudel <email@example.com> wrote:
Village Level Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Committee (V-WASH-CC) of Nandanagar VDC, Kapilvastu had organized a special ceremony at Nandanagar Scondary School to declare VDC (with 1217 households) as an Open Defecation Free (ODF). The VDC was declared ODF in gracious presence of Hon'ble Member of the Parliament Mr. Atahar Kamal, Chief District Officer Ms. Indu Ghimire, Local Development Officer Mr. Chandrakant Neupane and RWSSP-WN project home office coordinator Ms. Pamela White and other district/VDC level stakeholders.
After the declaration, Ms. Pamela White and Ms.Sangita Khadka (Social Development Specialist, RWSSP-WN II) came out of the program for visiting another VDC. They met two women from Karmahawa village of the Nandanagar VDC outside the crowd and asked about the toilet use in their communities. These two women expressed their dissatisfaction that they did not receive the support from the VDC therefore they did not have toilets.
I had come to the ceremony in the Local Development Officer's (LDO) vehicle. After the ODF declaration ceremony, he was waiting for me to return. But I wanted to visit the cluster KARMAHAWA— a village of the same two women who were complaining about not getting support and had challenged the gathering that 7-8 households have no toilets. LDO came to know about it. This information pinched him too. From the beginning, he was also against the hurried declaration. He knows the reality of the communities---every morning there are men in the field behind his residence at the district headquarters doing shit business without any shame. They are from the ward no 5 of the municipality which was declared ODF.
We visited the KARMAHAWA cluster in leadership of LDO. Focal person, field coordinators, journalists, Lead WASH Facilitator, Chairperson of the VDC WASH Coordination Committee and other members were with us. The heat of the noon time and the empty stomach also did not stop our LDO and the team. We visited most of the households in this community and found some shortcomings. LDO was satisfied as it was not at the scale that he had imagined. About three toilets were up to the plinth level (superstructure not completed), in one toilet tiles were being set and two houses were without toilet.
These two houses were big houses of the community. There were some women with whom LDO and others had a discussion. LDO and a journalist tried to convince the ladies for the benefits of toilets, that they should build a toilet and end the shit eating business. They were such stubborn that they had no hesitation to say—"we will continue Open Defecation; we cannot build toilets (don’t have money !)". LDO and the journalist realized how difficult it is to change the mindset of the people and how the toilet has become something that belongs to somebody else, an external thing. It was not a felt need.
Some one from V-WASH-CC members were saying that "when you ask all the households to send one person for the community work voluntarily—there will be few people and they will say that they have 2-3 buildings but are of the same family (i.e only one household) but when you are giving something the same household will break into three households based on the three houses (units)".
V-WASH-CC Chairperson was saying that if we had not set the target, we would not have completed the toilets even in three years. The date of declaration was fixed in a belief that by then all the toilets will be completed. The District WASH Coordination Committee’s monitoring team (after three monitoring visits) gave approval to V-WASH-CC for declaration with a hope that remaining very few toilets that were under construction will be completed before the declaration day. In general, this is the tragedy of ODF movement in Nepal---if you don't hurry you will never achieve, if you hurry there will be some lacuna!
After the visit, V-WASH-CC committed and ensured that within a few days all the households will be using their toilets. LDO has given clear-cut instructions to facilitators and V-WASH-CC to be more serious on self-monitoring as it is not possible for D-WASH-CC to visit each and every household of the community. On the car, we also discussed whether the D-WASH-CC's monitoring team should be restructured so that it would have no involvement of the implementer –DDC or the Water Supply and Sanitation Divisional Office (WSSDO). The monitoring team should consist of the representatives of the politicians, journalists and civil societies so that there will be more effective independent monitoring.
Regarding the disabled people, I am planning to ask all the Lead WASH Facilitators to submit disability data when they submit their VDC level toilet data i.e the number of households with physically disable persons so that we can focus more on them. It is time to pay attention to access, also at the household level even if these decisions are done by each household themselves.
There is nothing perfect but our attempt is to reach near perfection. Thank you for your valuable presence !
Yours sincerely, Bipin
................................... Sent by Bipin Poudel, District WASH Adviser, Kapilvastu district Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project in Western Nepal Phase II