Nepal WASH Blog Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) & Development in Nepal

July 31, 2013

Political commitment towards sanitation promotion and public launch of “ODF toolkit”

Filed under: Advocacy,Campaigns,Open defecation free — nepalwash @ 6:50 pm

Federation of Drinking Water and Sanitation Users Nepal (FEDWASUN) together with WaterAid Nepal had organised an interaction session with the leading political leaders on 29 July 2013, to persuade them to promote sanitation in their upcoming elections; this programme also saw the opening of the “ODF toolkit”. The participation of politicians that turned up, the turnout exceeded our expectations. This programme saw around 100 participants representing different walks of life, they included politicians, representatives from civil society organisations, students , water and sanitation users and media; the interaction was  facilitated by former environment minister Mr Ganesh Shah.

After a very interactive session with the political leaders, the expectant audience signed a public appeal demanding calls for action. The public appealed the politicians to:

  • Encourage each VDC and MPC in their respective election sectors to declare themselves as ODF for promotion of drinking water and sanitation
  • Ensure sustainability regarding sanitation activities in districts that have been declared as ODF
  • Address drinking water and sanitation as people’s fundamental right in their political manifesto for the upcoming constitutional assembly election in their respective political parties
  • Ensure the inclusion of a section in the new constitution that address sanitation and drinking water related rights as a fundamental right of the people and to address and solve drinking water and sanitation issues from local to national level by incorporating sanitation with development.

Nabindra Raj Joshi, a Nepali Congress leader, said “if water and sanitation issues are included in the parties’ programmes and manifestos, these issues will be addressed within three years”.

Jitendra Singh from the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party said “Our party will definitely commit to promote sanitation in it’s upcoming agenda as our district has the lowest sanitation coverage.”

Kasturi Pradhananga of Sashakti Nepal Party said that “Hopefully we will be successful in addressing sanitation this time around and we will not have to carry out another ODF campaign after 2017.”

Around two dozen leaders (mostly second tier) from mainstream political parties accepted the public’s appeal and pledged to incorporate drinking water and sanitation issues into their parties’ manifestos for the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections.

After the intense interaction session; WaterAid Nepal launched its “Open Defecation Free (ODF) toolkit”. This interesting toolkit is in the form of an illustrative booklet. It includes sections on why ODF is important? It also addresses the roles and responsibilities of government and civil society organisations. It can be used for replicating ODF in non ODF areas.

The programme was a big step forward but the broader picture is still bleak; the national target states that Nepal will receive universal sanitation coverage by 2017 however this is not possible until all 75 districts of Nepal are declared ODF. Till date only 9 districts (Kaski, Chitwan, Tanahu, Myagdi , Pyuthan, Parbat, Accham, Kalikot,and Makwanpur)  out of 75 districts have been declared as ODF .

In this day and age; around 10,500 children under five are still dying from water borne diseases each year in Nepal, this calls for drastic measures. Hopefully the political leaders, sanitation campaigners and everyone else take this event as a wakeup call. It is yet to see if political leaders and sanitation stakeholders live up to their promises.

The post is written by Ms Smritee Bajracharya, Documentation Officer, WaterAid Nepal

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