After seven weeks spent in Russia I returned to Nepal to implement a project for the construction of toilets for the most unprotected Nepali populations - single women and people of retirement age who have no support from relatives.
After several exploratory trips around the Telkot district the situation become clear; whilst I was not in the country everyone in Telkot area received a shelter. The government of Nepal has issued 15,000 rupees (about $150) to each victimized family; many have taken loans for a small percentage from the local communities, and for those who could not take the credit volunteers helped to build a simple shelter from the materials remaining from destroyed houses.
The lack of toilets is still one of the main problems in these affected areas and it is the root cause of the rapid spread of infectious diseases. Oxfam has organized, together with Enpho, the creation of four toilets. Construction of these toilets will cost 15,000 rupees, so at the moment we can build a maximum of nine toilets.
The project will commence later in autumn. Our Australian colleagues from the Blossom Sustainability NGO will continue working in the Telkot area, so fundraising is still active.
After two full days of research in Telkot we chose nine suitable locations to build the toilets. The selection is based on the following several criteria:
· Poor, single women, with difficult life situations
· Presence of preschool and school-age children
· Lack of family support
· A lack of own land
· No stable income
· Remoteness of residence from the district center
1. Devaki Lamichhane lives with her two daughters and son of school age. Her husband left them 7 years ago to work in Malaysia, and since then they have never heard from him. Devaki gets no benefits as a single mother as officially she is considered married. She works during the season in the local farm & fields with a daily salary of $2. For the same work in Nepal men get up to 10 times the salary, and in this case men receive $12 per day. Devaki’s house is in line with the houses of 3 other families. None of these families were able to rebuild a proper toilet shelter; they have built sheds and attached them to the dilapidated houses. None have functional toilets.
2. Manesh Taman is 22 years old. He lives in a shelter with his family; his wife, 4-year-old child, and two neighborhood children of school age; a boy of 16 years old and a girl of 13. Their father is dead, and mother run away about 3 months ago with a man, leaving her children alone. Adjoining this house lives another family. There is not enough money for construction of a common toilet. When we visited Manesh Taman’s house there was a large national celebration in Nepal. That is why he was at home alone.
3. Niru Maya Taman is 45 years old and she lives with her two children. Her son is 22 years old and her daughter is 17. Her husband is dead. The woman and her son work the fields when there is a work. The family house was completely destroyed in the earthquake.
4. Rathna Devi Taman is 62 years old. Her husband died 9 years ago and she never had children. Rathna lives far from the village on a mountain. She makes a living from breeding goats; some of which died during the earthquake.
5. Sunita Taman lives with her 11-year-old son on the mountainside. Her son goes to a public school in the village. Sunita's husband left them and now lives with another family. Some time ago Sunita received 15,000 rupees support from the government and repaired her shelter as best should could. Sunita and her son have no ability or finance to construct a toilet themselves.
6. Dhanabhadur Taman is 70 years old. He lives alone, his wife died a long time ago, and his children have married and left the home. The volunteers for the Telkot community built a shelter for him from iron sheets. In 5 years Dhanabhadur will reach retirement age when he will receive 1000 rupees ($10) a month from the state. The women’s retiring age in Nepal is 60 years old, and for men it is 75. Pension payments were made equal last year for both men and women. If there is any work around the neighborhood, Dhanabhadur is always working, but he mostly lives from his garden.
7. Tuli Maya Taman is 36 years old. She lives in her parents' house with her two brothers and their families. Their parents died long time ago. Tuli, and one of her brothers, have been seriously ill for a few years and are not able to work. Their house was badly damaged by the earthquake and the community of Telkot had helped them with the construction of a temporary shelter. The family still uses their old house, like a lot of other people do. Her other brother and family members are working in the fields, with their salaries just enough to feed family. There is no possibility of building a toilet.
8. Chandrabati Moktam is 31 years old. Since childhood she has suffered from mental illness. Her parents died a long time ago and she does not have brothers or sisters. She is living alone in a remote area of jungle, without roads and no visible path to her house. We made our way to the hut through some bushes. Neighbors help her with a food and her house was completely destroyed in the earthquake. Telkot volunteers helped her to build a simple shelter out of leftovers from her destroyed house.
9. Seti Maya Taman is 80 years old. Her husband is dead and the children married and left home. Local children help by delivering food, but they are very poor and are not able to do much. Seti’s home was completely destroyed. Volunteers helped her to build a simple shelter, but there is no opportunity to build a toilet.
The price of building a one toilet in Telkot costs about 15,000 rupees ($150).
This comprises of -
· Asian toilet pan Rs 1,000
· Sheets of iron (2 roof + 4 wall = 700 rupees apiece) Rs 4,200
· Cement, sand, clay for the floor Rs 1,700
· Pipe 5m Rs 1,500
· Labor (workers) Rs 4,000
· Nails & screws Rs 1,000
· Transport, unloading and delivery Rs 2,000
Based on current funding we plan to build nine toilets. But, of course, there is need for more. If you wish to participate you are very welcome to donate and will make a difference.
Larissa Matteissen, Kathmandu, Nepal.
English edition by James Ward