Scouts' helping hand to improve village sanitation and hygiene

Mr Thinley a disabled man in Khebisa gewog in Dagana, Bhutan, standing outside

Mr Thinley, who lives with a disability, now has an upgraded pour flush toilet thanks to the Community Based Scouts, Akhochen Primary Health Centre and Water for Women project partner in Bhutan, SNV. (photo: Khandu Wango / SNV)

The Scouts' famed motto is "Be Prepared." Its less well-known slogan is, "Do a good turn daily."

The Community Based Scouts (CBS) of Bhutan have lived up to both, helping improve sanitation for poor and people with disabilities in the country’s south-western district of Dagana.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all about the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene facilities – and how a lack of access can harm us. But for many, the cost of better sanitation is prohibitive, as was the case for Mr Thinley, a disabled man in Khebisa gewog. He found it difficult to use his toilet but, without help, could not upgrade to a more accessible pour flush toilet.

That was until the Scouts and Akhochen Primary Health Care (PHC) joined forces with village volunteers to build the facility he needed.

Khandu Wangmo, an Akhochen PHC health assistant, said: “During our first visit to his household, we were greeted by a smile of hope and excitement. He will now be able to realise his dream of sanitation improvements for himself and his wife.

"His disability no longer prevented him from using the toilet. It was a satisfactory moment for himself and his family, and for us – for being able to help in a small way. Our joint efforts, indeed, will make a big difference in his life.”

Their work was part of the Government of Bhutan’s Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (RSAHP), supported by the Water for Women Beyond the Finish Line: Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All project with SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.

The program improves sanitation and hygiene countrywide, installing better facilities and encouraging better hygiene practices and facility maintenance long-term.

Program coordinators set up monitoring schedules to check household management and maintenance of proper sanitation and hygiene practices.

“We have a responsibility to help those who are not able to afford sanitation facilities and to continuously impart the know-how in sustaining sanitation and hygiene improvements for everyone to lead a healthy life,” said Mr Wangmo.

The program includes community development health workshops to encourage villages and districts to prioritise sanitation and hygiene conditions.

Water for Women partners with SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) in the delivery of Beyond the Finish Line - Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All in Bhutan, which aims to provide equitable, universal access to safely managed sanitation and hygiene for more than 275,000 people in rural and urban Bhutan by December 2022.

Water for Women is the Australian government's flagship WASH program and is being delivered as part of Australia's aid program over five years, from 2018 to 2022. Through Water for Women, Australia is investing AUD118.9m to deliver 33 water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects and research initiatives, which aim to directly benefit 2.9 million people in 15 countries across South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific. 


This story was originally published as "Sanitation and hygiene for all, and by all," as part of an SNV in Bhutan SSH4A blog series by local government, health care, and community partners.


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