Although we have made significant progress in little more than a decade’s time, sanitation and hygiene is still a problem in this country.

Today, 80 gewogs in 10 dzongkhags today have a flush toilet.

The World Toilet Day in Tsirang yesterday gave us some picture of where we are and how far we still need to run. Forty-one gewogs in nine dzongkhags have achieved open-defecation-free status.

It is a big leap, but giant steps ought to be taken.

Samdrupjongkhar and Mongar have achieved 100 percent improved sanitation coverage. Some dzongkhags have yet to catch up. The lesson is that with time and the kind of social changes, behavioural changes will occur, but a little input from the government can help us cover a distance.

Much of the achievement we are proud of today we owe it to the community engagement. Government interventions have always been critically important. And we have to recognise kind and honest assistance from agencies abroad.

UNICEF, SNV and DFAT CS WASH fund deserve our special thanks.

What is more important is the drive from inside. There ought to be more programmes designed to educate our people through numerous programmes. We need to tell our people what open defecation and related sanitation issues could bring us to altogether. And this is not enough, of course. We need to find out why this is happening.

The truth is that a large number of our people, especially in the rural areas, have no means to construct even a simple toilet. Worse, basic health education still is in short supply.

Good things are happening, though. For example, the health ministry is now putting in place some monitoring system to not just monitor number of toilets, but also keeping records of disease trends.

At a time when donor countries and agencies are increasingly leaving the country, we can’t leave a thing as basic as sanitation to somebody’s care.

We must answer our own call of nature, in a dignified way.