ODF declaration gives new image to 'dirty' Balewa
By Gita Sapkota, Belawa, Bardia, Feb 9: Belawa, a recently declared Municipality of Bardia district,with lowhuman development index, known as a bastion of diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid and yellow fever, has turned its identity after being declared an open defecation free (ODF) free zone a year ago.
All nine wards with around 3,360 households of the Municipality have already registered themselves as ODF free zone. Belawa VDC was declared Municipality just a month ago.
Local health officials of the Municipality said they had started a campaign in the area two years ago in collaboration with the Village Development Committee and an organisation V-WASH-CC to build toilets in the area where majority of people are from Janajati, Dalit, Muslim and Tharu community.
A staff of Belawa Health Post, Prem Kumar KC said the VDC had warned to stop the entire facilities provided by the Committee like birth registration, death registration and other facilities if any household refused to build toilet.
According to KC, earlier, some households, especially of Muslim community had refused to build the toilet.
KC further said, “Earlier even after building toilets, people defecating in toilet was a rare phenomenon in the area.” However, now defecation in open is a rare scene, he said.
Using toilet has left good health consequences among Belawa denizens, senior health worker Arun Kumar Thapa said.
Earlier, before declaring ODF free zone, around 250-300 patients visited the health post in summer season suffering from diarrhoea, typhoid, and several other communicable diseases.
The number of patients visiting the health post suffering from the same problems has decreased by almost half now, he said.
Showing the medicines nearing date expiry at the health post, KC said from last year medicines Metro and Punarjeevan are about to expire in huge amount.
In previous years, Metronid Suspension Tab was the most utilizable medicine in the area. The district Public Health Office sent this medicine in a large amount this year.
According to the status of VCD office, the Municipality has 565 Dalit households, 1415 Janajati households and 1386 are others with Muslim and Tharu majority. Before starting the campaign in the area, only 492 households had toilets. A total of 2,868 households built toilets after starting the campaign.
“We also had to conduct a campaign to make sure that they used the toilet,” KC said. “We faced problem to conduct sanitation works in our VDC due to different cultural beliefs of different caste groups,” KC shared.
“We have found the level of public awareness of health and sanitation in the district has improved compared to the past. The ODF campaign has also contributed to raise the awareness,” he added.
After declaring the area ODF free zone, WASH committees are responsible to make people aware of other components of total sanitation. Any place where every member of each household has access to toilet, safe drinking water, hygienic food, and where the people have the habit of washing hands with soap and keeping the surroundings clean is considered to have achieved total sanitation, he said.
The report published by the National Planning Commission in 2012/13 showed that the population with access to sanitation stands at 62 per cent and drinking water coverage stands at 85 per cent.