A campaign to clean public toilets across Bhutan gathers steam

A concept to bring together all concerned individuals who care about public health and sanitation has become a reality with the Bhutan Toilet Organization (BTO). Headed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers BTO is on a tenacious spree of cleaning public toilets in almost all the Dzongkhags. Since the Ministry of Health is concentrating on rural toilets, BTO has been doing their cleaning campaigns in urban public toilets.

The organization started gathering volunteers since November 19 World Toilet Day last year and as of date has more than 300 volunteers cleaning and campaigning across the country.

On the World Toilet Day on Thursday BTO held a poster gallery on the state of public toilets in all 20 Dzongkhags. About 85% percent of the cleaning was done within the Urgent Run event which was from November 1st to November 19th with only four Dzongkhags being left.

BTO has a Facebook page through which they share the pictures of state of public toilets and share the common platform for discussions.

“Our first social media campaign was to take pictures of all the dirty public toilets across the country and show them on social media. When it comes to public toilets everybody takes pictures and nobody cleans it. That’s why we started from public toilets.” said Passang Tshering one of the founders of BTO. He said that it is not a onetime thing and there are solutions to maintain a clean toilet sustainable which the organization will be working on.

“In other dzongkhags we are doing more than cleaning. We are replacing damaged equipment, providing tissues, fitting water supply with aid from local suppliers” he added.

In Thimphu because there are too many toilets the organization after a major clean up and repaint works has handed over the toilets to respective caretakers to maintain. BTO has even collaborated with the Thimphu Thromde to carry out wood works and plumbing works which can’t be fixed by the organization. All the maintenance requirements will be submitted to Thromde in written and the Thromde is expected to take action.

“Everybody knows the solution to this problem but only a few turn up to do something about it. However many people came forward and we had the workforce we required, meanwhile some hotels sponsor lunch or refreshment as well.”Passang Tshering Said.

BTO hopes to work with Thromde and regional authorities to include them in the future toilet designs and plans as most public toilets are hidden and are located in places where people rarely visit.

For now the major achievement according to them is in Paro.  Paro is the model toilet for BTO. They supply free toilet paper, water supply is installed, repairs are done, and blockages are cleared. They even sell sanitary napkins very cheaply if a woman is in urgent need of it while making sure they throw their waste properly in the bins provided.

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