SNV recognised for its ten-year service to Bhutan


SNV in Bhutan was awarded a prestigious memento by the Health Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan in recognition for 10 years of unwavering support, collaboration in, and contribution to the government’s Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (RSAHP).

“I want to acknowledge the support rendered to the Ministry of Health, local leaders, and health workers by partners such as UNICEF and SNV.”  Honorable Health Secretary, Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan

Since 2008, SNV has been a key player in pilot testing and shaping the Government of Bhutan’s RSAHP, which incorporates the organisation’s Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (approach). Long-term support from SNV and the Australian government [1] helped to scale up RSAHP implementation: first, in the district of Lhuntse (2010), to Pemagatshel (2011), then to Samtse and Trashigang (2014). Over the years, experience in districts have been enhancing SSH4A’s learning, and in consequence, the government’s own rural sanitation and hygiene programme.

During Bhutan’s observance of World Toilet Day 2018 (WTD 2018), the audience celebrated the achievements of the Samdrup Jongkhar district and an additional 41 gewogs (sub-districts) in nine districts that successfully reached Open-Defecation-Free (ODF) status and realised 100% improved (JMP standards) sanitation coverage. These accomplishments have brought the number of ODF-certified districts to two (Mongar and Samdrup Jongkhar) out of 20, and 80 gewogs (sub-districts) out of 205 sub-districts.

If Bhutan manages to keep up (or accelerate) this pace, the government’s 2020 SACOSAN VII commitment to deliver basic sanitation services to 90% of the population is “within reason” and achievable. Half of this percentage is expected to climb the higher levels of sanitation – gaining access to safely managed sanitation services [2]. And at least 100 sub-districts and five districts are likely to realise 100% coverage.

The official WTD 2018 celebration was hosted by the Doonglagang gewog, Tsirang District last 19 November 2018 [3] [4]. Co-organised by the Ministry of Health (Public Health Engineering Division), District Health Sector in Tsirang, with support from SNV and UNICEF, the festive event was attended by officials from Ministry of Education, district administration, religious and local leaders, SME, and local communities.


CLICK on image above to view WTD 2018 Bhutan celebrations

[1] Since 2014, SSH4A in Bhutan has been supported by the Australian government’s programmes CS WASH Fund and Water for Women. More information on the programme here: SSH4A in Bhutan
[2] What do we mean when we say safely managed? Applying the shit flow diagramme methodology on a study of sanitation and hyiene services in Bhutan, SNV and IRC found that there is "the likelihood of existing systems being safely managed if current practices in faecal waste management continue...". Read the SNV learning brief titled, Estimating Safely Managed Sanitation in Bhutan (June 2018).
[3] Check out mainstream news coverage of the WTD 2018 event here: How are we answering nature's call and 41 more gewogs declared open-defecation free.
[4] Snapshots of the WTD 2018 celebrations are also found on the Bhutan WASH (B-WASH) Facebook group page. Created on 24 April 2015, the Facebook page was initiated by the RSAHP team, led by SNV. It now has a 654 membership count, which includes the health minister and other high-level officials. The page, an informal platform of exchange for health staff, local leaders and other stakeholders, contributes to sector-wide alignment.