Bhutan: Learning to make latrines

Zow Yongba, 62, a carpenter from Nanong gewog in Pemagatshel, travelled nine hours by bus to Autso in Lhuentse and then walked for another five hours to get to Jarey gewog.

Twelve others from his gewog also took the same journey to attend a 12–day training on sanitation and latrine construction, which ends on December 2, 2009. Of the 35 carpenters and masons attending, 22 are from Jarey.

35 masons and carpenters pick up new skills. Photo: Kuensel Online

The masons and carpenters, after theoretical lessons in the morning, are constructing four different types of latrines to be showcased to public during the first sanitation fair, which will be held from December 2- 5 at Lhadrong, Jarey gewog. These are the ventilated pit latrine, the ventilated double pit latrine, the pour-flush with off-set twin pit and the pour-flush with septic tank.

“Although we have carpentry skills, there are new concepts and ideas I’m learning from this training,” said Zow Yongba. “I’m hearing of a double pit latrine for the first time.”

The carpenters are being oriented on the latrine door with respect to wind, installation of vent pipe, hand-washing facilities and depth of pit.

The training of carpenters and masons is a follow up of the community sanitation and demand creation (CSDC) workshop according to water and sanitation specialist Karma Tenzin with SNV Bhutan, which is providing the technical assistance. SNV Bhutan is currently intervening in rural sanitation and piloting in four gewogs of Sarpang, Laya, Pemagatshel and Lhuentse dzongkhags.

“The training hopes to create a demand for better and sustainable hygiene and practice and adopting appropriate, affordable and sustainable sanitation solutions, using both locally available and imported materials,” said Karma Tenzin.

Karma Tenzin said that, although a majority of households have some sort of latrine, not many are functioning as they should. Most latrines do not have vent pipe to curb the problem of bad smell and flies, while some latrines are constructed far away from the house. Some latrines are very small in size making it difficult for users.

Once completed, these latrines will be handed over to their respective owners, who contributed the material for construction.

A similar latrine construction course was conducted in December 2008.

Source: Kuensel Online, 26 Nov 2009

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