SURKHET, April 25: Locals in Guthu VDC of Surkhet are struggling to cope up with a campaign against open defecation launched by several government and non government organizations because of insufficient water. Even households with toilets are not using them since there is no water to flush.
“I did not have money to construct a toilet. As they said they were making this open defecation free area, I took a loan of Rs 10,000 from my neighbor to construct one,” said 70-year-old Kainturi BK. “But what is the use when there is no water to use in the toilet,” she added.
BK is among the villagers who have to walk for one and half hour to reach to the water source from where they carry it back to their village. “I simply cannot spare the hard collected water for toilet use,” BK complained.
Even though the organizations seem to be in a hurry to declare ´open defecation free Guthu´ to meet their goal of making the entire country open defecation free area by 2015, they have completely ignored the core problem - availability of water.
“Even though the locals want to support the program they cannot afford do so,” said secretary at the VDC Sharan Baduwal. “How can villagers who have to toil hard for a bucket of drinking water afford to have water in toilets. The toilet campaign has become meaningless due to lack of water.” According to a report prepared by the VDC, around 700 among 1537 households in Guthu are deprived of water while 80 percent of them have toilets.
Regional drinking water and Supervision department, one of the partners of the program, also states it would be a futile effort to try to meet the goal without ensuring water supply. “They should have given priority to drinking water, but they are trying to focus on cleanliness first,” said Suresh Mahaju, senior divisional engineer at the office.