Health: Lhuntse and Pemagatshel have achieved 98 percent toilet coverage since the pilot programme in the dzongkhags began in 2011. This is according to the recent sanitation and hygiene programme (RSHP) review.

SNV’s WASH Advisor Raj Kumar said that this not only indicates success of programme, but also shows behavioural change of the people towards hygiene and sanitation.

After extensive awareness programme on the types and importance of toilets, the implementation of the programme was later handed over to gewog administration.

“This is why the review was conducted – to see if the sanitation and hygiene has improved by constructing proper toilets,” Raj Kumar said, adding that programme approach has been there since 1975, but some it never gained priority.

“No fund, subsidy or raw materials were provided to the people to construct a toilet. Villagers built toilets on their own,” Raj Kumar said.

The programme has led to marked decrease in the diarrhoeal disease in the two dzongkhags.

Pemgatshel’s District Health Officer Kinley Dorji said the gewogs are yet to achieve 100 percent toilet coverage. “More than 80 percent of the people prefer pour-flush toilet.”

He added that the dzongkhag hopes to achieve 100 percent clean and safe toilet coverage by 2015.

PHED’s Chief Engineer Rinchen Wangdi said the programme will be taken to other dzongkhags. PHED has already taken the programme to Samtse, Wangdiphodrang, Mongar, and Samdrupjongkhar.

He added that the plan is to improve sanitation of rural households by 80 percent by 2018.  “We are confident that we will succeed.”

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar