SACOSAN-VI will be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 11-13 January, 2016. The theme is "Better Sanitation, Better Life". Nepal was invited to prepare thematic technical paper under "WASH in Institutions and Public Places". This blog entry re-visits RWSSP-WN II thematic contribution, and launches the first "RWSSP-WN Brief" -series publication (Click here!). Our contribution was merged into a joint paper prepared by a number of WASH sector stakeholders, to be presented in the SACOSAN, click here for our thematic paper that features also RWSSP-WN II contribution, and here for the Nepal Country Paper.
The contribution was based on our own experience with the public, institutional and school WASH in Western and Mid-Western Nepal. Our study covered total 316 sanitation facilities constructed 2009-2013 in RWSSP-WN Phase I, each re-visited again in 2014 for the baseline for RWSSP-WN Phase II. The leading questions were how to ensure that the facilities are accessible to all? How to make sure that the toilets will be gender, child and differently-abled friendly? How to ensure sustainable Operation and Maintenance practices, and future financial feasibility are considered early on? What to recommend to the Institutional Management Committees? What have we learned from the past? What are we proposing for the future?
While defining service delivery models and standards for these facilities, the users should be taken as the point of entry: who are they? What are their expectations? What are the options for providing both sanitation and hygiene services, what would they expect? What kind of other services can be included, and how these should be considered from the beginning before finalizing any technical designs? Defining the number and types of users can be a challenging task. Some categorization helps us to draw attention to those facilities that are more likely to become critical. This makes it possible to provide more targeted post-construction support. These four categories we came up with are presented in the figure 1.
Figure 1. Understanding the nature of users counts
Schools toilets have a fixed number of daily users whose behaviour can be influenced with the existing behaviour change communications tools. Institutional toilet may have a very limited number of both regular and one-time users, both known and unknown people. Public toilets, in turn, is characterized by potentially very large number of unknown users, many of whom are probably one-time users as well.
Public, institutional and school toilets can provide a number of services. They can translate into various technical solutions of different sizes with a potential of providing a range of services to a range of users. Unfortunately, this potential is rarely realized when the focus remains on physical facilities for sanitation only. The business potential or an option of offering personal hygiene related services similar to what Sulabh-movement is doing in India, are not getting much attention. We also found that while the locations chosen for the toilets can be very diverse, the standard design is applied nevertheless.Without targeted attention, even basic access to these facilities can be compromised from the onset.
Figure 2. Public, institutional and school toilets could have many services under one roof
Baseline findings and related field visits encouraged us to develop new approaches. Attention shifted from the physical structures into the service delivery and related future business models. Related step-by-step monitoring formats were prepared, drawing attention to the future management practices and such as child- gender-differently-abled friendliness early on, before the structures get built. Step-by-step approach was developed to address timely inclusion of specific design principles and to trigger future management thinking early on.
We still have a lot of work to do here. The school sanitation is still lacking behind, and too many school toilets remain locked and/or without water. Within the institutional sanitation, as is evident from the Nepal team’s technical paper, health facilities are the ones that truly need more attention. Sustainable access to water supply is a must for all of them as the full benefit just cannot be realized without water. Access to hand washing facility implies that water is available inside or close to/within the visibility of the toilet, yet, without water also this facility remains idle. Overall environmental management with solid waste management and proper drainage also count, public toilets should not equal to public environmental nuisance.
We all need them: institutional, public and school toilets. Better sanitation for better life applies also in these public places!
What is SACOSAN? “SACOSAN is a government led biennial convention held on a rotational basis in each SAARC country provides a platform for interaction on sanitation. SACOSANs are intended to develop a Regional agenda on sanitation, enabling learning from the past experiences and setting actions for the future. The objectives of such conferences are to accelerate the progress in sanitation and hygiene promotion in South Asia and to enhance quality of people’s life." http://www.sacosanvi.gov.bd
Click here for the technical theme paper: WASH in Institutions and Public Places for transforming lives – Sanitation Matters! Authors: Kabindra Bikram Karki, Sector Efficiency Improvement Unit, MoUD, Shikha Shrestha, WaterAid Nepal, Nam Raj Khatri, WASH Expert, Himalaya Panthi, Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH), Keshab Shrestha, Urban Environment Management Society (UEMS), Sanna-Leena Rautanen, (RWSSP-WN II), Gunaraj Shrestha, NC, WSSCC, and Manima Budhathoki, CODEF Nepal