Friday, 24 September, 2021

Kathmandu becomes ODF zone when poops still serve as an eyesore

By Arpana Adhikari

Kathmandu, Sept. 18: Kathmandu was declared open defecation free (ODF) zone on Tuesday. Kathmandu was one of the 11 districts which were bracing to become an ODF zone.
But when the authorities were making the declaration by organising a posh programme at the City Hall, the pedestrians crossing the overhead bridges nearby were having a hard time to avoid stepping on human poops.
Human feces littered around the overhead bridges nearby the Bir Hospital and Bagbazaar, located just a few hundred metres away from the City Hall, seemed making mockery of the declaration.
Poop on the streets has obvious reason --lack of access to adequate public toilets. Kathmandu district has only 38 public latrines, which are woefully insufficient for the rising influx of people in the city.
If the people walking in the streets of the city experience nature’s calls, there are no proper public toilets in the city, forcing some to defecate in the open.
It is not known what compelled the authority to make the announcement without meeting the required infrastructure to have the ODF status.
In the condition of anonymity, one of the members of the District Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Committee (DWASHCC) said that the declaration was made due to the pressure to meet the toilet coverage target under the UN Millennium Development Goals by this September.
He admitted that the declaration was made without proper preparation. This might be because Nepal wanted to beat its neighbouring country India on becoming an ODF zone.
Nepal is gearing up to be an open defecation-free country by September 30, two days before India will become so.
Speaking at the event, Hari Dutta Poudel, chief of the DWASHCC, said the toilet coverage in Kathmandu reached 100 per cent.
“All 292,452 households of Kathmandu have toilets and there were also many public toilets. Hence, the district has now gained the ODF status.”
Following the introduction of Sanitation Master Plan in 2006, the government has been accelerating district-based sanitation progarmmes across the country, said Poudel.
Poudel said now all 11 local units of Kathmandu district (one metropolitan city and 10 municipalities) had achieved the ODF status.
He said though the government had targeted to declare Kathmandu ODF by 2017, due to the massive earthquake and border blockade had created hurdles to meet the target.
“Declaring ODF was the first steps toward sanitation. Kathmandu will now move ahead on achieving total sanitation status,” he added.
After achieving ODF, the DWASHCC will now focus on managing visible feces, sustainable management of drinking water and water resources and sewage treatment facilities, added Poudel.
Globally, the term ODF is used to describe communities that have shifted to using a toilet instead of open defecation. This can be implemented after community-led total sanitation programmes have been implemented.
In India, the ODF status will be maintained only after no visible feces found in the environment or village and every household as well as public/community institution using safe technology option for feces disposal.