Written July 19, 2010 by Keesler Welch
A couple weeks ago I visited the Village Development Committee (VDC) of Gundu which is in Bhaktapur district. (See map below)
The organization that I am based out of just completed a two-year long water and sanitation improvement plan for Wards no. 6 and 7 within Gundu village. Although Gundu VDC is in close proximity to Bhaktapur city, safe water and sanitation there was in very poor condition so ENPHO, with support from WaterAid Nepal, took immediate action in devising an improvement program. And in order to ensure that the water and sanitation issues (which were relevant to the community) were to be addressed in a comprehensive manner, ENPHO conducted a study with extensive participation from local communities. Therefore, the “Gundu Environmental Sanitation Improvement Programme” became a community-based initiative that utilized the households and centered on a community approach to improve sanitation and public health.
Before the implementation of ENPHO’s improvement plan, a survey that was conducted in the village showed that 24% of households were completely deprived of toilet facilities. But among those with toilets, most of them (79%) did not practice safe and hygienic sanitation. Furthermore, the quality of water in Gundu is very poor since there is lack of a proper treatment system and some households (38%) did not practice any type of filtration before consuming. Other households (35%) only used cloth filtration. This led to some diarrhea and fever problems (but fortunately no deaths!)
Since the improvement plan was only a two-year long project, the “Gundu Environmental Sanitation Improvement Programme” has come to an end but I wanted to see for myself how the community has carried on with what ENPHO started. So after lots of driving and asking for directions through unpaved roads uphill, we finally found Ward no. 6 and 7 of Gundu. While there I met with a water user committee member of Ward no. 7 who has been on the committee for awhile. First I asked him about the make-up of the water committee in Ward 7. He stated that there are 11 members on the committee but only 3 are women. The ages of the committee members range from 35 years old to 67, with him being one of the oldest. When I asked him how the community has been carrying on from where ENPHO left off, he said the biggest problem is that there still needs to be more awareness on why not to defecate in some areas. He went on to say that particularly during the monsoon season, when farmers are out in the field and far away from toilets, open defecation is quite common. However, the water user committee is struggling with ideas on how to enforce these new sanitation practices. He stated that the community members can be fined as a penalty but he doesn’t believe that this enforcement is strong enough to change people’s habits without some type of awareness campaign. Only when the water user committee members come walking around do households practice safe and hygenic practices, he added. However, "ENPHO did a good job of going door-to-door to educate the community members, which is unlike the other [NGO] groups who have come to implement projects in the past."
Below are some pictures of ENPHO's work that were taken during my site visit.
EcoSan toilet. It consists of two chambers which are used for defecation and an outlet for urine. This way urine and feces will be separated. When the first chamber is filled up with feces, it is closed for 6 months. In the meantime the second chamber is filled up. This converts feces into manure which can then be used as fertilizer.
Toilet with solar compost to be used as fertilizer.
ENPHO logo on ECOSan toilet.
Rainwater harvesting to increase water supply.
In sum, ENPHO's “Gundu Environmental Sanitation Improvement Programme” has led to better water quality, improved water pressure at tap stands, construction of toilets for every household, promotion of EcoSan toilets, a health and hygiene training program at school, storm water management and drainage system, solid waste management, and general awareness to the inhabitants on water and sanitation related issues so that the local government can take over once ENPHO has completed the project.
Before leaving, I asked our water user committee friend what's the next big challenge for Gundu. He stated that since drinking water supply is not a problem anymore, the next big issue is securing enough water for irrigating the fields. Currently the community relies solely on the monsoon rains although they are waiting to hear back on a project proposal which would help them build a canal so that water is better collected at their source point.
Signage for “Gundu Environmental Sanitation Improvement Programme.”