Lele is a scenic VDC in Lalitpur District. It takes around 45 minutes from Lagankhel– one of the main city centers in the district to reach there by a four wheeler. Its has been declared ‘Organic VDC’ as manure and natural pesticides only are used in agriculture. 1,822 households of Newar, Pahari and Brahmin/Chettris communities inhabit the VDC. The total population is 8,411.
Though it is a historically significant place– an important center during the Lichhavi dynasty, currently it is considered a backwater compared to other areas of Lalitpur. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. It’s also a tourist destination.
It is around 20 km away from Kathmandu, the national capital and largest urban center in Nepal. However, it feels as if Lele is a remote village in some rural district; poverty is rampant and traditions and superstitions play a big part in life and death. It’s a typical rural settlement.
Open defecation (OD) was the main health hazard in Lele. WASH related health problems were frequent. Community members were aware of this ‘uncivilized’ way of relieving oneself. They would feel inferior to the national and international tourists visiting their village and surrounding areas.
In 2011, the Government of Nepal made a commitment to declare Nepal, an open defecation free (ODF) country by 2017. Along the line, Lele VDC water, sanitation and hygiene coordination committee (V-WASH-CC) also made a commitment to declare Lele as open defecation by July 2014. Due to a combination of multiple factors, it didn’t happen.
In close coordination with district water, sanitation and hygiene coordination committee (D-WASH-CC), V-WASH-CC again set out to make the VDC ODF and invited all I/NGOs and CBOs working in the VDC to make it a success. In Lele VDC, there are only three I/NGOs and CBOs in operation viz. GNI Nepal, its implementing partner Ashal Chhimeki Nepal (ACN), and Lele Community Development Center (LCDC).
ACN as a member of V-WASH-CC took responsibility to declare Ward No. 4-8 of the VDC as ODF. A community-led total sanitation (CLTS) approach adopted and finally on April 10, 2015, Lele was declared ODF VDC in the presence of Honorable Minister for Land Reform, Bal Bahadur Rana.
After Lele was declared ODF VDC, diseases having fecal origin are decreasing gradually. Sakuntala Tamang, a GNI Nepal supported WASH facilitator observers, “occurrence of diarrhea has decreased by around 60 percent and people have stopped defecating in the open”.