English | Dzongkha Thursday, April 2, 2020

SaTo pans to the rescue

Sep 30, 2019

Positive energy, clean environment, fruitful learning and healthy students, these phrases resonate with having proper sanitation in schools. But for schools in Bhutan, clean and proper toilets are rare. With a hope to end toilet problems in schools across Paro, Education Ministry in collaboration with Bhutan Toilet Organization trained health coordinators and caretakers to install SaTo pan in schools.

Deriving its name from “Safe Toilet”, SaTo pan limits the transmission of diseases by ensuring that the toilets being used are closed off from the open air, thus preventing insects or other vectors from communicating those diseases.

“This type of pot is very strong. Even if it is hit by a stone, it won’t break easily. This trap door will open and close as soon as you flush. So this blocks the smell and no-fly will get in. it is very effective to prevent diseases. And it uses very less water; half a litre of water can flush it,” said Chablop Passang Tshering, the Executive Director for Bhutan Toilet Organization.

Constructed spending millions of ngultrum, the toilets in school today is just the facade of proper sanitation. From broken taps to broken doors, improvised cemented toilets to tainted ceramic pots, the toilets in schools are in need of a revamp. 14 schools in Paro have reported that 158 toilets needed up-gradation.

“In some schools, the number of toilets is less but in some, there are enough toilets. However, these toilets are aqua-privy toilets and it emits a foul smell. Since students in the past have not properly used it, the pots are already broken and the toilet already stinks. So even if the students these days try to clean and repair, it is difficult. It’s the same in every school,” he added.

As part of the School Toilet Up-gradation project, SaTo pans are being distributed to schools. During the training on Friday at the lower campus in Drukgyal Central School, 21 units of old aqua-privy toilets are upgraded including two for children with disabilities.

He says clean manageable toilets in schools can be a change to better toilet etiquette in future.

“Nobody uses the toilet properly. If anything in the toilet is missing like water shortage, we don’t use it properly. Now this problem arises since we haven’t seen any clean toilets and haven’t used hygienic toilets when in school. So Bhutanese don’t have proper toilet etiquette. So, if schools provide a clean and hygienic toilet now, as they grow, they will be able to maintain toilets in our country properly,” he added.

If all schools in the country maintain data on types of toilets and damages done, the project expects to complete all toilets in schools by 2020. With the completion of the installation of SaTo pan in schools in Paro, the project funded by UNICEF would have completed over 500 toilets in five districts.

Sangay Chezom

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