Analysis

All for a drop of water

Ishwar

Ishwar Rauniyar

Hundreds of people of Khari Village in Dhading district in the central Nepal are desperately waiting for access to sufficient water at their door steps. Thanks to DCA and its local partner Action Nepal who is working day and night to ‘kill thirst’ of this village.

The slope of Khari looks very dry. We could hardly see any green vegetable fields. More than 400 households in the area are struggling to live their normal life in lack of proper drinking water facilities.

For many years, this village is reeling under an acute water crisis. The problem got worse after the devastating earthquake in 2015 which decreased the flow of water from the spring, compelling many to shift to their relatives in Tarai for some months.

The people have access to sufficient water for hardly four months during the rainy season, but for the remaining eight months the life is tough. “We have to reach to the spring as early as 2 in the morning during the dry season to avoid crowding.

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At least a minimum of four-five hours are spent every day just to fetch the water,” said Sabitri Duwadi-36 from Khari. There was no idea how the perennial problem of acute shortage of drinking was going to end until the current opportunity was explored. The former chair of Khari Village Development Committee, Ram Hari Pokhrel says, “We are now hoping better days will come.”

June 7, 2017 was a historic day for hundreds of people from Khari at Jwalamukhi Rural Muncipality-5 from Dhading district. This was the day when DCA passed the test bringing hopes of these families those waiting for water. Numbers of locals with an eye of suspicion gathered from the area where a test for the deep-boring was being done.

Everyone in the village was suspicious that the project’s effort was going to be futile. “We were also not 100 percent sure that our effort will actually bring any good result or not,” says Pabitra Gurung, DCA’s Project Manager-WASH Recovery.

“However, we were committed to bring some good result as hundreds of people in this area were going through tough times and had a huge expectation on us.” Gurung also added that they did an extensive research about the use of such technology in other areas.

“We found successful in some areas,” he says. “This motivated us and finally we have a good result.” Not just the community members, the project staffs are also excited and happy to see water after the drilling. “DCA has been able to reach some most hard-to-reach areas taking risk in terms of adoption of technologies that were providing appropriate access to safe and clean water to the communities,” says Cecial Adhikari, Programme Manager at DCA.

He adds, “We were able to tackle the technological barriers that was hindering for accessing water by the communities. For example, we reached up to 230 meters in the mid-hills in Dhading providing water and there are many more examples. I believe that DCA has been able to maintain its identity as the risk takers in the WASH sector.”

Exactly a week after the boring started using rock drilling method, the underground water first came out. The deep-boring project was successful. “We tested the quality of the water and found it drinkable,” Adhikari says. There’s no bound of happiness to many people in the village. It became headlines in the national newspaper ‘praising’ the project effort.

4.75 years old Rekha Kumari Pokharel from Khari, Jwalamukhi VCD 5, Dhading poses for photo at her house. Photo By Shruti Shrestha

75 years old Rekha Kumari Pokharel from Khari, Jwalamukhi VCD 5, Dhading poses for photo at her house. Photo By Shruti Shrestha

“It was one of the happiest days in my life. My dream to have adequate water in the village before my death was going materialise,” said Lekha Kumari Pokhrel, in her 70s. Ever since she shifted to the village after getting married with Lekh Prasad some 50 years ago, there hasn’t been a single day she didn’t struggle for water.

The only source of water for the villagers is a spring around half an hour walk one way where some 400 families are fully dependent for drinking, washing, bathing and feeding their cattle.

The people are already taking benefit from ‘water boring’. The reconstruction works that were stalled in the lack of sufficient water now has started and people are now using an electric motor to extract water and are using in their shelter construction. They are also using it for vegetable farming and cleaning the ‘stinking’ toilets.

There’s still more work needed to be done to complete the project. The DCA/Action Nepal has done the detail feasibility study of the project and the successful testing of the water availability. The construction of the reservoir tank of 50,000 litres is completed while the pipes are being laid for the distribution in each household.

DCA’s upcoming WASH projects will be taking this project further by helping accessing the families with household level tap connections. “It will take another five to six months to translate our plans on the practical ground,” says Gurung. “We are working to provide water facilities to each and every household through yard connection.” The initiative was first started through Act Alliance’s funded recovery project.

The availability of water has envisaged more opportunities to the villagers. The chairperson of the water user committee Ram Hari Pokhrel confidently says that the access of sufficient water means – vegetable farming, better feeding of cattle, clean toilets and people.

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Sansad Development Fund for Rural Infrastructure Development also joined hands through the District Development Office of Dhading district. The DDC also contributed Rs. 954,000 from the parliamentarian development fund to make this project a success. “This means a lot as the government will own the project and will be sustainable,” says Pokhrel.

This is just an example, in the past three years, since the 2015 earthquake, DCA has come a long way in terms of responding earthquake survivors providing access to sufficient water at their door steps. The availability of sufficient water hasn’t just made thousands of lives easier, but also envisages new opportunities, including employment generation and also contributed to a dignified life with access to proper sanitation facilities. So far DCA has constructed/rehabilitated 193 water schemes providing sufficient drinking water facilities to more than 80,000 individuals in Dhading, Gorkha, Makwanpur, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Lamjung, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk and Saptari district.

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