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

December 7, 2010

Campaigning waves on World Toilet Day in Nepal

Filed under: Campaigns,Citizen Action — Tags: , , , — Shikha Shrestha @ 4:10 pm

When I joined WaterAid in Nepal just two years ago, I was sorry to hear that more than half of Nepalis still defecate in open areas each morning, and shocked to learn that 10,500 children under five are dying each year in this country from preventable diseases like diarrhea and cholera. The JMP Report 2010 states that the world is off track in meeting the sanitation related MDG targets and sadly, the same is true for Nepal.

To raise awareness of the importance of sanitation worldwide, World Toilet Day was started in 2001 by the World Toilet Organization. The campaign takes place on November 19th each year and this year, WaterAid Nepal and our partners wanted to do something a bit different.

We wanted to facilitate innovative campaigning at a local level, so we began by developing guidelines for our local partners, encompassing things like campaign objectives, key statistics and campaigning ideas. These were translated and contextualized in local languages by Federation of Water and Sanitation Users Nepal (FEDWASUN).

All this early work paid off! In the early morning of November 19, students from three different community schools were out on the roads in Dhading and Pyuthan, carrying placards with toilet and sanitation slogans.

Three other rallies were organized by FEDWASUN in the market areas of Dhanding, Pyuthan and Dang, with around 2000 people from very diverse backgrounds taking part. To give you an idea, participants included the Chief District Officer, political leaders, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and Army personnel, to name but a few. Chief District Officer, Pyuthan animated the crowd when he said that “World Toilet Day campaign should be continued for achieving target of declaring Pyuthan as Open Defecation Free zone by 2013. Chief District Office will be committed to provide all the possible support to continue to the momentum”.

We were keen not to limit the campaign to organized rallies though, so we supplied our partners with ideas, hoping to inspire their creativity – and it worked!

FEDWASUN Makwanpur decided to use the platform to share findings from their analysis on the status of toilet provision. Baglung district chapter held a sanitation themed folk song competition and a protest program, organized by children at the District Education Office (DEO) to demand easy toilet access in schools. Dang also organized a protest program at the DEO, handing an appeal letter demanding school toilets to the Chief District Officer. And Lumanti- Support Group for Shelter, in partnership with Biratnagar municipality, used the campaign to teach children about good hygiene behaviour.

Monitoring the success of campaigns has always been a bit of a challenge for us so this time, we agreed on several success indicators to measure its effectiveness.

If you’re interested in the results of the campaign, I can tell you that our success indicator for ‘campaigning with creativity’ was surpassed! We also surpassed our target for ‘presence of high profile and decision makers’. The target for ‘media coverage of the campaign’ was met but we fell slightly short of our target for the number of participants (ie. 500 per district). In terms of monitoring any changes made, we feel that this was just the beginning. We think that coordinating agencies should be mapping any changes made in terms of access to sanitation services as a result of increased political commitment and financing in the sector, but I’d be interested in our readers’ thoughts…

Written by Shikha Shrestha, Advocacy and Research Officer, WaterAid in Nepal

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