Sufficient water provides opportunities
The construction of water schemes in Dhading and Gorkha districts in Nepal has brought happiness to 22,606 people as the schemes provide the people access to safe drinking water at their doorsteps. Gone are the days when people had to walk and wait for hours to fetch a bucket of water.
Life of Kartikai village in Dhading district was always difficult due to the lack of enough water until last year. The villagers were relying on the Sati river – an hour’s walk from the village.
“We didn’t have enough water to drink, never mind for feeding cattle or for vegetable farming,” said Shiva Prasad Silwal, a resident in the area.
Fifty-two-year old Silwal lives here along with his seven family members. “Earlier we approached many NGOs but no one was interested in solving our problem. Finally, we have now received support that has made our lives easier,” Silwal adds.
Now all these ‘earthquake affected 55 households’ have household tap connections where they receive a 24-hours water facility.
This initiative has not just helped communities’ ‘access to safe drinking water’ but has also provided opportunities for livelihood. “Earlier, with the lack of water, I couldn’t even grow vegetables that was enough for my family, but now I am making money from my vegetable farming,” Silwal says.
And literally we can see green vegetables in his field. He is now growing spinach, cauliflowers, onion, garlic and other vegetables. “This has changed our life completely,” says Silwal who is also the secretary of the water scheme management committee. With access to sufficient water he is now planning to buy a couple of cows and buffaloes so that he can earn money by selling milk.
The happiness brought by this project is not limited to Dhading district. The beneficiaries in Gorkha district have shared more exciting stories.
Dambar B. Chepang of Prajabasti in Gorkha district shows a tap installed at his home yard. “Five households are using water from this tap,” he says with a beaming face. “We are having 24-hour flow of water in our taps.”
In this village one tap is shared by five to six households. With an easy access they hardly need to walk for a minute or so to fetch water.
“This is saving our time and we are tension free now as we can use that time in other productive works,” he says. He recalls that earlier he had to walk through sloppy tracks to the water source to fetch drinking water.
“It was polluted too and carrying water from a source to my home was a nightmare during rainy season,” he added. “There were incidents of my family members falling down the muddy roads while fetching water,” he remembers.
Life has changed completely in this poverty stricken Chepang community. The project has provided support to construct two water schemes Prajabasti and Thulokhola in two Chepang communities – Prajabasti and Makaisingh. These two villages have altogether 67 households of Chepang communities.
Min Kumari Gurung, 40, of Tanglishowk is now able to have a sound sleep every night. She also has enough time to spend for her household chores and her field works.
“Earlier I had to wake up at 3 am in the morning and go to fetch water. I could hardly get one bucket of water in half an hour time,” she says. “In case of delays, I had to wait for hours as the queue went too long.”
Gurung, along with 55 households, had to rely on “Khaltugaira Kuwa (water well)”. She had to walk 30 to 35 minutes in the sloppy terrain and wait in the queue.
Access to sufficient water has also helped her family to be clean and hygienic. “Now, we have enough water that we can bathe with and wash our clothes everyday,” she says. “Toilets are clean now and we are immune from water borne diseases like diarrhea.”
The project supported constructing of altogether 55 water schemes in these two districts benefiting around 4,000 households.
Prajabasti DWS also supplies water to Shree Prajabasti School (Grade 1 – 4) benefiting 116 students from Chepang communities. The 2015 earthquake worsened the condition of latrines and water facilities at the school. In lack of water, the latrines were in useless condition and children were defecating in the open fields. But with the access of enough water for sanitation, children are now using toilets regularly.
“We also oriented the students about using latrines and washing hands,” says Rasmita Chepang, Community Health Volunteer, who received training under this project. “Now, we can see a notable change in the behaviour of students.” In addition to Prajabasti School, altogether 13 schools were benefitted and the project reached 1,794 students.
The community members are collecting minimum tariff of Rs. 100 for 10 units of water and Rs. 20 per unit if it crosses the minimum 10 units’ limit and are saving as a fund so that they can reuse the money for the caretaker and maintenance of the water scheme.
It differs according to the water scheme. Monthly Drinking Water System’s beneficiary meeting is conducted on every first day of the month for clearing income and expenses of the scheme. They have their own guidelines for the implementation of the scheme. Every activity of the scheme is recorded formally in the minute. The amount collected is also used for maintenance of the water scheme.
They have their own implementation guideline for the scheme and also have set some rules like: if any new house is constructed in the future, they have to pay a certain amount for using water facility (after calculating saved fund and labour work of community).
There is provision of regular water quality test, they collect water sample and take it to Rural Municipality Office for testing. Provision of water tariff collection and monthly payment to the Village Maintenance worker (VMW), formation of the Water Safety Plan and Water Users’ Committee, the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) plan and fund, insurance of DWS components, hazard mapping has added more stairs to sustainable water schemes and user committees.
The project has also introduced better ways in forming water users’ committee by developing the guidelines and providing different training and orientation. Thus, the community people were able to set up a better mechanism in place to maintain and repair the water scheme.
“We never believed that we can be capable to repair and maintain damages and leakage in the pipeline and taps and other situations,” says Til Bahadur Chepang.
“After receiving two trainings in repair and maintenance, I can repair and look after tank, pipes, and tap damage.”
From the collected tariff, people also organize mass cleaning campaigns in the village every month with the active participation of the whole community. Community has also placed dustbin and IEC hoarding boards in public places.
Every household now has a toilet and a tap, which also contributes in declaration of Open Defecation Free (ODF) area. The ODF is one of the important components to envision the resilience in WASH. Thus, the project supported to declare ODF in two wards in Dhading and four wards in Gorkha district by following national guidelines. The project supported the construction of 839 toilets in two districts.
With the funding of DFID, Dan Church Aid, Care Nepal and Save the Children have formed a consortium to support earthquake survivors on WASH facilities including water scheme, toilets and hygiene promotion activities among others through Rapid Community WASH Recovery Support to Vulnerable Community Project in Dhading, Gorkha, Nuwakot and Rasuwa in central and western Nepal.
The writer is a Communication Officer at DCA, a Denmark-based NGO.
With special inputs from Sanju Shrestha and Sujan Kumal from Action Nepal, Dhading and Rickma Basnet from ECO Nepal, Gorkha