Melchham is located at a distance of two-days walk from the district headquarter, making it one of the remotest among the twenty-seven VDCs in Humla District. It has a total of 162 households and a population of 975.
A year ago, open defecation was the norm in Melchham- roadside and back-yards would be littered with human excreta. Having a toilet was never a priority for the households. Only 25 households out of 162 had a toilet. Singha Bahadur Shahi, Secretary of Melchham VDC, recalls,” people would go to the woods for relieving themselves. Sanitation at the local schools was also miserable. Each school had toilets but for teachers only. Students, especially girls, faced problem in the absence of toilets. A girl urinating openly was shamed. So, girls would forego school during their periods.”
A local GNI Nepal implementing partner coordinated with District Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Committee (DWASHCC) regarding material support for constructing toilets, especially for those families who are extremely poor. DWASHCC provided with pan and pipe while GNI Nepal provided with cement. Melchham VDC office transported all of the construction material from the bazaar to the construction sites. Similarly, Village Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Committee (VWASHCC) members were mobilized throughout the village for awareness raising, motivating the community for and monitoring toilet construction. School level child clubs and teachers also supported the ODF activities enthusiastically.
Currently, every household in Melchham has a toilet. Melchham was declared ODF VDC on 8th October 2015. Tek Bahadur Shahi, a resident of Ward No. 5 said, “A few years back we couldn’t have thought ODF as a part of the development of our village. But now I have realized that it’s a foremost indicator of social development. I am proud to be a resident of an ODF VDC.” He added further, “Nowadays, even my small brother is ashamed to defecate in the open.”
Use of newly built toilets has contributed to make the surroundings clean and sanitary. No school going girls are absent from school during their menstrual period as every school has access to a toilet facility. Chandra Buda, a local student, says, “After ODF declaration, the school premises and surrounding are clean. No student has to walk 10-15 minutes every time to the woods and back to answer a nature call as separate toilets for students and teachers are available at the school.”