Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

Almost a decade ago, open defecation was common in Athang, Wangdue.

This changed in 2012 with gewog’s initiative to build a pour-flush (PF) toilet for every household in the gewog.

Thirty-one-year-old Dawa Zam from Lawa village said that until 2012, people defecated in the forest or an open ground. Today, every household in the gewog has a PF toilet with continuous water supply.

The gewog has more than 180 households.

Although the gewog is remote, it boasts clean and availability of PF toilet for each household.

In 2002, with 12 households, Rukha village, home to monpas called the Oleps, didn’t have a single toilet. Today, all 20 households in the village own a closed PF toilet.

Lawa-Lamga tshogpa, Tshering Dorji, said that pit toilets were common before the construction of PF toilets.

The gewog planned to build PF toilets in 2012.

The gewog officials received funding support through the Rural Economic Advancement Programme (REAP). Workforce was sought from within gewog.

Athang Gup Khandu Dorji said that initially awareness programmes were held for people to use PF toilets.

He added that for about a year after the toilets were built, people had still not used their toilets. “When we advised them to keep the doors of the toilets closed and to have it clean, they misunderstood us.”

“Yes, people didn’t use for about a year and only kept it for guests,” Chekila, a villager from Lawa-Lamga said. Later, during gewog officials’ visit, the people were advised to use their toilets and also keep it clean.

The gewog achieved 100 percent coverage of PF toilet in 2016. Later, in 2017, on November 19, coinciding World Toilet Day, Athang gewog was recognised as open defecation free in Trongsa. With Athang, Gasetshogom and Gasetshowom were also declared ODF the same year by the health ministry.