Bhutan Toilet Organization (BTO) could just be the end of the proverbial Bhutanese hunt for bushes at nature’s call.
The now Civil Society Organization come a long way since 2014 when it was first established to instill civic sense by replacing traditional toilet habits with modern, hygienic ones through education, advocacy and social initiative.
In fact, BTO has been given the responsibility to provide toilet facilities during the upcoming national day on December 17, which is going to be held at Haa.
“We plan to launch our national portable toilet fleet during the upcoming national day and we are also planning to set up more than 20 portable toilets during the event,” said the founder of BTO, Passang Tshering, also known as Chablop (toilet instructor).
BTO has earned attention and appreciation from the public as it has managed and cleaned toilets during many public events in schools, offices, monasteries and Dzongs. The members are also working to upgrade public toilets, build toilets along the highway and at tourist hotspots.
Passang Tshering has been a blogger for over a decade and has raised various issues to relevant authorities but when it came to toilets there was nobody he could turn to. With this was borne the BTO aligned along the idea of World Toilet Organization.
“We have enjoyed great support from over more than 1,000 volunteers. They are mostly students from schools and colleges and a good number of civil servants and people working in civil society,” said Passang Tshering adding that BTO has also successfully established toilet clubs in all the 10 colleges across the country.
“These are headed by ambassadors under the Royal University of Bhutan and we have unanimously decided to observe October 8 as University Toilet Day,” he said.
BTO under the Civil Society Organization Authority hopes to take on bigger projects and collaborate with the government in going beyond just the need for basic toilets and advocating on importance of better toilet facilities for proper sanitation.
The organization is also committed toward conservation of the environment and has worked toward making the country open-defecation free. According to Passang Tshering, BTO is also conscious about waste water management and pollution of river and ground water.
“We shall make sure that no sewer flows directly into the stream or river system. In places where there is central sewer management system, we will push for mandatory connection to the main sewer system.”
Rinchen Choden Karpo, a volunteer with BTO at Sherubtse College, said: “As of now, I have seen BTO working really hard in our college and locality. I have seen the organization cleaning toilets both within and outside the college.”
She added that the organization is indeed benefiting the locality by preventing infectious diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and flu.
“Additionally, it has helped create awareness in the minds of people bringing peace and harmony in the community. Therefore, I would say BTO is doing a great job and will go places,” she said.
BTO has a larger vision that includes making toilets girl-friendly and accessible to people with disabilities, establishing a portable toilet unit for public events, and advocating and empowering individuals about clean toilet habits.
Recently, the organization that is now gaining popularity and attention from both the public and authorities, provided toilet policing for over 20 days until people got used to using the toilet during kanjur lung at Kuenselphodrang.
Till now, the organization has conducted around more than 100 toilet cleaning campaigns and has been at all major public events across the country.
“Our services are free but in the future we will charge a fee to private companies to generate fund for sustaining the organization,” said Passang Tshering.
BTO awarded certificates to over 1,200 volunteers but hundreds more worked without any tokens of recognition, keeping the spirit of community service alive.
Jigme Wangchen from Thimphu