Mon, 18 Jan 2021

Nepal in bid to address shortage of public toilets

Xinhua
19 Nov 2020, 17:51 GMT+10

A man wearing a mask walks at the premises of the Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, amid the COVID-19 epidemic in Lalitpur, Nepal on Aug. 21, 2020. (Photo by Sulav Shrestha/Xinhua)

As a traveler, 24-year-old Sandhya Sharmashe has left her footprints in many parts of Nepal and rarely found public toilets in good condition in the Himalayan nation.

The local government of Lalitpur city is planning to work together with private sector to construct more toilets to address the woes.

KATHMANDU, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- A 24-year-old Sandhya Sharma had mixed feelings every time while visiting Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated at the center of Lalitpur city in Kathmandu Valley.

Sharma, a science major, likes the beauty of the Newar architectures on the square so much that she haunts there once she gets leisure time. Hanging around the square was enjoyable, but when nature called, the local girl didn't know where to go.

There was no one single public toilet in this popular tourist destination until a half year ago. Lalitpur Metropolitan City, historically Patan, home to thousands of citizens, has only 12 public lavatories, among which only one is properly working now, according to Aerosan Sustainable Sanitation, a social enterprise company that has been constructing health facilities for the public since last year.

A man takes shelter from rain on the Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated at the center of Lalitpur city in Kathmandu Valley, Sept. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Tang Wei)

Recalling the bitter experience, Sharma said, "I did not drink water before going for an outing in fear of going to toilet."

She said many local girls like her facing the same problem in Kathmandu Valley, which boasts seven monuments designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Patan Durbar Square.

"Our survey done in 2019 finds that there are only 58 public toilets in Kathmandu Valley and most of them fail to remain tidy and hygienic," said Prakash Amatya, CEO of Aerosan Sustainable Sanitation.

His company has built the sole well functional public toilet in Lalitpur around six months ago and it's inaugurated with fanfare by the city authority on Nov. 19, the World Toilet Day.

"Since it is in the square area, I guess I am one of the first users of this new restroom. I like it very much!" Sharma shared her excitement with Xinhua this week.

As a traveler, she has left her footprints in many parts of the Himalayan nation and rarely found public toilets in good condition.

In dark contrast to those often-squalid toilets where she can't breathe properly, the brand new one is equipped with enough water, soap, and hand dryer.

Photo taken on Sept. 22, 2020 shows the Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated at the center of Lalitpur city in Kathmandu Valley. (Xinhua/Tang Wei)

Suma Nepali in charge of the toilet said proudly, "There is enough space, we even provide a sanitary pad for woman. This practice has been much fruitful in times of emergency."

To ease the acute shortage of public toilets, Lalitpur Metropolitan City this year has bought three mobile toilets from India which costed around 32,000 U.S. dollars.

"If there was no COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, we would have installed them in densely-populated areas," said Chiribabu Maharjan, mayor of Lalitpur city.

Furthermore, according to him, the local government is also planning to work together with private sector to construct more toilets to address the woes. ■

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