There are people living with disabilities skipping meals and women risking UTIs just because they don’t have access to clean public toilets. Clean and accessible toilets in public spaces are basic human necessities.
There needs to be more conversation about a problem often unspoken of by those affected most. Hence, on 27th March 2023, the #TalkToilet campaign was organized with the collaborative efforts of WaterAid, Aawaaj News, Aerosan, and Mitini.
The campaign focused on raising awareness on the status and functionality of public toilets in Kathmandu Valley for better access to sanitation while paying attention towards the needs of women and people living with disabilities.
The event started with a bus tour from Lalitpur Metropolitan Office to a public toilet located at Swoyambhunath and was attended by Deputy Mayor Manjali Shakya Bajracharya of Lalitpur Metropolitan City.
Built on the foundation laid by the late Prakash Amatya, AEROSAN has been consistently raising the bar in sanitation, sustainability, accessibility, and functionality of public toilets in Kathmandu Valley and the smart toilet of Swoyambhunath, built by AEROSAN, clearly reflects their commitment.
Members of collaborative organizations, media personnel and social media influencers, along with the Deputy Mayor, were guided through the Aerosan Hub at Swayambhunath.
Manual taps and soap dispensers at public facilities are prone to being dirty due to frequent exposure to touch which can be a nightmare for sanitation. Hence, the smart toilet used motion sensors taps, soap dispensers and hand dryers to tackle the problem.
In order to ease the extra challenges that women have to face in hygiene revolving around the use of public toilets, the public toilet facilitates sanitary pad dispensers as well as sanitary pad disposal machines, along with a station designated to change the diapers of babies.
Furthermore, the black-water waste is also turned into bio-gas which powers the whole building. So everything from the tea that is made in the mini café area to the lights is powered by the toilets themselves!
The attendees were taken to the main event from there, where a flash mob and standup comedy performance further highlighted the need for clean toilets in the Valley. The event had an innovative photo booth that served as a microcosm of the general public toilet experience in Nepal.
There is still a lot needed to be done to change the culture around public toilets and Deputy Mayor Manjali spoke about her commitment and plans to work on the issue.
“We (Lalitpur metropolis) have been working on sanitation issues on our own but this event has made us more committed to accelerate the process,” said Deputy Mayor Manjali.