PHASE’s 16 month sanitation project has surpassed its aim of ensuring provision of 600 working toilets in Tauthali & Piskar villages located in Sindhulpalchok. The final construction totalled 625 household toilets and one two-roomed school toilet. Additionally, this work will enable both villages to regain their status (pre-earthquake) of Open Defecation Free.
Sindhupalchok was one of the districts most severely affected by the 2015 earthquake. More than 95% of buildings collapsed. Historically, this district has been vulnerable due to limited access to markets, health services and education because of its remoteness in the Himalayan mountains.
Tauthali and Piskar (combined population of around 5,400) residents were unanimously in support of this project as people had to openly defecate after the earthquake. In coordination with local level stakeholders the community actively participated with PHASE in the selection of households for toilet construction. The beneficiaries of the toilets provided the labour for construction. PHASE recruited two social mobilizers and one technical staff member (sub overseer) to help collaborate with the labour.
The primary focus of this project was to improve health by providing sanitation. This was achieved by providing households with adequate training and the necessary materials for each home to build and maintain their own toilets. This method benefited individuals directly through improved health by reductions in diarrhoea; reducing illness that facilitate children’s ability to learn and households to sustain livelihoods. The benefits were felt in the wider community with reduced open defecation leading to the reduced risk of infection.
PHASE coordinated the creation of the toilets, with awareness raising activities on safe sanitation practices and appropriate toilet construction techniques. A total of 488 households took part in water and sanitation promotion materials and all households were provided with toilet cleaner and soap cases. Furthermore, 900 students from three schools were provided with notebooks containing messages about sanitation such as handwashing techniques. With the new practical skills acquired by numerous households and the theoretical knowledge via awareness raising and education, PHASE believes this project will not only help now but will benefit generations to come.
Hira Lal Shrestha a 74 years old resident from Piskar. Is one of the many people whose house collapsed during the earthquake. Luckily none of his family perished but life still become very tough. His family of 10 spent numerous nights following the earthquake sleeping in the goat shed.
As a child Hira defecated in the open. He was unaware then that open defecation is hazardous to both health and the environment. In the later stages of his life he realised the importance of having a toilet in his home and constructed one when the whole district was declared as open defecation free district in 2014. His house and toilet collapsed in the earthquake.
After the earthquake, different NGOs and government programmes provided materials and some aid for temporary shelters to the people who lost their houses. Hira’s family were able to construct a temporary shelter from the support provided. Although they had a temporary shelter, they were forced to defecate in the woods nearby or in open fields. He felt embarrassed when passers-by saw him but had no option.
The villagers requested that PHASE supported them in constructing toilets as the situation was getting worse both socially and environmentally. As PHASE had already supported the community in the aftermath of the earthquake, they were hopeful of support. Their hope turned to reality when PHASE received financial support from The States of Guernsey for the construction of toilets. Hira Lal Shrestha was one of the beneficiaries of the toilet construction project.