Have you seen these signs as asked yourself, “What are defecation-free zones?!”
This is a bit of a public service initiative.
I must admit, the text is rather confusing.
Does it indicate that is free to defecate in this zone?
Or that this zone is defecation free?
I don’t know what it wants from me, but I am flattered at being addressed as an “honorable trekker”. The last thing I want while hiking in Nepal is my honor to be questioned!
So, in order to keep said honor intact, I did some research. Here is what is meant by defecation-free zones, dear honorable trekkers.
In 2010, Nepal created a master plan. No, really, it’s called the National Hygiene and Sanitation Master Plan (how awesome is that?!). This plan was created with high hopes and big dreams to provide an abundance of toilets and other facilities throughout Nepal.
Specifically, they wanted to reduce open defecation (AKA pooping out in the open) to zero… Across all of Nepal. By 2017.
I’m all for this, I guess.
I mean, it’d be nice NOT to see people pooping openly. But I’d also like to note that the only bathroom break offered on a four hour bus ride doesn’t include a bathroom.
Maybe they could also offer some baggies and trash bins at bus stops?
So yeah, there’s some work to be done, but I guess you’ve gotta start somewhere.
In order to really address the issue and promote defecation-free zones in Nepal, the government realized the only thing to do was add more toilet facilities near homes and populated areas.
This is where I realized that things were worse than I expected.
The goal was to have 60% of households to have access to toilet facilities by 2013, 80% by 2015 and universal coverage by 2016/2017.
To date, I don’t know where this initiative currently is.
You want toilet facilities? Yeah, I’ll support it!
So please, dear and honorable trekkers, do not defecate in the open if you can resist.
I know some of you just got off a bus from India with such a bad case of Delhi-belly that everyone watched as you defecated in a nearby field.
I know it’s hard when there isn’t a bathroom in the foreseeable future and there hasn’t been for hours.
But together, we can help make Nepal a defecation-free zone.