Staff Reporter  

Coinciding with the World Toilet Day today, three more dzongkhags and 26 additional gewogs achieved 100 percent improved sanitation coverage in 2021 and have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).

With 129 gewogs and eight dzongkhags achieving ODF status, Bhutan has reached the 62 percent mark for improved sanitation and ODF status. In addition, 15 gewogs have achieved more than 98 percent, 16 Gewogs more than 95 percent and 21 Gewogs more than 90 percent access to improved sanitation status so far.

Dagana, Lhuentse and Trashiyangtse and 26 gewogs (Kana, Dorona, Karmaling, Nichula, Lamoizingkha, Tashiding, Lajab, Tshendagang, Tseza, Drujigang, Goshi, Gangzur, Khamdang, Bjabcho, Lokchina, Getana, Darla, Chapcha, Sershong, Samtenling, Gelephu, Shenga-Bjimi, Barp, Toepisa, Sakten and Udzorong) are being recognised for the accomplishment today as Bhutan joins the global community in observing World Toilet Day.

As part of the monitoring system, the ODF certification is instituted to keep track of sanitation progress and to recognize gewogs and dzongkhags for their achievements annually during World Toilet Day, a press release from the health ministry stated.

The theme for this year’s World Toilet Day is “Valuing toilets” which calls for a concerted effort from all stakeholders in achieving access to sustainable sanitation by all. “It reiterates that life without a toilet is dirty, dangerous and undignified and that public health depends on toilets. Toilets also drive improvements in gender equality, education, economy and the environment,” the press release stated.

During World Toilet Day 2020, the health ministry pledged to make Bhutan ODF by the end of 2022.

The health ministry initiated the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (RSAHP) in 2008. The programme is a subsidy-free and demand-driven community-led approach to achieve total sanitation in rural communities. “The Programme has now reached all dzongkhags in an effort to accelerate the progress to achieve 100 percent access to pour flush toilets and ODF status by the end of 2022,” the press release said.

“The ministry is committed to providing all necessary support to achieve this national goal,” Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said.

For instance, every dollar invested in basic sanitation returns up to $5 in saved medical costs and increased productivity, and jobs are created along the entire service chain, the press release stated. “For women and girls, toilets at home, school, institutions and at work help them fulfil their potential and play their full role in society, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.”

“Valuing toilets means valuing life. Ensuring access to improved toilet and sanitation facilities are catalytic in ensuring the wellbeing and dignity of the people,” UNICEF Country Representative, Dr Will Parks said.

Edited by Tshering Palden