| April 23, 2018

As deadline nears, Rajbiraj doubtful of meeting ODF goal

RAJBIRAJ, March 10: Although the effort to make Saptari district Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2016 is in full swing, concerned authorities are finding it challenging to accomplish the goal within the given deadline.

Millions of rupees have already been spent on the program in the district as part of the international commitment to make the world ODF zone by 2017.

Various district and ward-level committees were set up for monitoring and effective execution of the projects under the program. But as the timeframe set for achieving the target expires in less than 10 months, almost 75 percent of the households in the district still do not have toilets.

However, this fact has not stopped the district-level District Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination Committee (DWSSCC) from claiming that the target will be achieved within the deadline.

According to the committee’s report, there are around 115,720 households in the district, but only 29,816 have toilet at their home. Based on the statistics, around 83,000 households must build a toilet within 10 months to successfully accomplish the mission.

Out of the 29,816 toilets in the district, around 10,000 belong to ODF-declared Haripur, Jandaul, Kanchanpur and places of western Pipra and Rajbiraj municipality, which are in the final phases of being ODF declared.

“The program has not been as active as it’s supposed to be,” said Parmeshwar Jha, who has been long associated to sanitation activities through Sabal Nepal. He further added that it is difficult, if not impossible, to complete the project within 10 months.

According to him, it has been difficult to persuade locals to build toilet at home. “It’s partly because of homeless squatters and partly due to ineffective government policies coupled with discouraging political situation,” he added. Various NGOs have already spent more than Rs 2.5 million in 52 VDCs of the district for raising public awareness on the issue.

Chairman of Rajbiraj-based DWSSCC, Lokendra Yadav, said that they are committed to complete the project on the deadline. “I’m confident that we can meet the deadline. Obviously we cannot do this on our own. We also need support from others stakeholders,” said Yadav.

Various cleanliness campaigns have been running in Saptari district since 2006. Strategies were developed in 2013 to make the district ODF zone. Thirty VDCs have been funded by Global Environment Fund and UN-Habitat, whereas UNICEF funded 8 VDCs, SNV 12 VDCs and Sweden funded the remaining two VDCs for the project.