Sign Language: What’s an ODF?


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In ODF is an Open Defecation Free zone.  And before you run screaming from anything with the word “defecate” in it, or switch off entirely…please bear with me, as this is reality here.  It’s an awful topic I know.  And I know that many people who read my blog might prefer cute pictures of animals over the reality of sanitation problems, but sometimes I have to add a little reality into the mix.

Open defecation is a major problem in Nepal with proper toilets in rural areas severely lacking.    According to UNICEF only about 46 percent of Nepalis have toilets in their homes and in the far west of the country the percent drops to half.  NGOs are helping to try and create awareness of the health problems and contamination issues caused by raw sewage to water and soil, and the resulting gastrointestinal diseases.

Communities declare themselves as ODFs to try and solidify local support for proper sanitation.  However, often existing toilets are so dirty that many people prefer to go “au naturel” to avoid them.  Its a vicious circle.  This rusting sign stands testimony to the ongoing battle to try and improve conditions.  The Nepali government says its aiming to provide adequate water and sanitation conditions for all by 2017.  Unfortunately, that sounds more than a little ambitious to me.