Open defecation and waste issues have literally taken over Kuenselphodrang in Thimphu, where thousands of devotees including trulkus, lams, monks, lay monks, nuns and residents from across the country have gathered to receive oral transmission and empowerment of Kanjur, the teachings of the Lord Buddha from His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo, Trulku Jigme Chhoeda.
According to Rinchen Wangdi from Public Health Engineering Division (PHED), Ministry of Health (MOH), “Open defecation is the practice of people defecating outside and not into a designated toilet. Even if toilets are available, devotees choose to defecate in bushes rather than standing in long queue outside toilet. Therefore the need for behavioral change is critical in addition to the provision of toilets,” he said.
“When Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk and his team from MOH reached the scene, it was learned that despite adequate toilets, people preferred nearby bushes to relieve themselves because they don’t want to stand in a long queue outside toilet,” he said. “Open defecation is an important factor in causing various diseases, most notably diarrhea and intestinal worm infections and others.”
He also said graduates and Desuups have volunteered to initiate toilet policing and sensitize devotees on the social impact of poor sanitation and waste management.
Waste management is yet another issue with two Dumper Placer Garbage Bins already flooded with waste. MOH directed Thimphu thromde to clean the waste and it has been decided that thromde will clean the area once in three days.
Construction of public urinal accommodating 40 people will begin on August 12. The volunteers comprises Desuups, members of MoH, PHED, MOWHS, WHO and UNICEF. Rinchen Wangdi said, “There are around 70 toilets and construction of public urinal occupying 40 people would solve this problem. We also made sure that the water is clean and safe for consumption”.
The volunteers will continue to sensitize people on the implication of poor sanitation and also on benefits of maintaining proper sanitation.