Sufficient water creates opportunities in remote village
For years, 54 families of Aali community at Panchadewal Binayak Municipality-5 of Achham District have been leading a tough life because of the acute shortage of water. Majority of the families are Dalit (35), Janajati (12), Chhetri/Karki (7). And the total population is 354.
Although being at the bank of Karnali River, the community had no proper source of water for drinking and irrigation.
In lack of drinking water facility, people were compelled to drink water directly from the Karnali River without any purification risking their lives to diseases and the fear of drowning during flood season.
“It was very tough as we had to walk to the river and bring water on a pot. Forget about irrigation, it was even difficult to ‘ferry’ sufficient water for drinking carrying on my back and head,” says Jayasara Karki, a mother of three.
“We were forced to drink ‘dirty and muddy’ water during rainy season.”
She further added that it was even difficult to send children to fetch water as there were chances of drowning in the flood.
“We all know that Nepal is rich in water resources. And no doubt, these people were also rich in water resources but they could only see it, not utilize it,” says Rajendra Khanal, Programme Manager, Resilient Livelihood and Sustainable Food Security at DCA Nepal.
DCA, through its local partner SOSEC Nepal and with the support from Panchadewal Municipality, Achham, installed Hydraulic Ram Pump Water Lifting technology helped to bring the river water to the village.
And this brought happiness in the faces of these people reeling under acute water shortage for years. The access to sufficient water for drinking and irrigation hasn’t just made lives easier for these people. It also envisaged new opportunities, including employment generation and change in their food habit.
“We now eat fresh green vegetables and sell it in the local market and make money,” says Jayasara.
The earning has also helped Jayasara to become economically strong.
“Until last year, I had to completely rely on my husband’s earning, who is in India working for us,” she says. “Not just school stationery of children, all the food and vegetables were bought with the earning from India.”
“But things have changed now. I now sell vegetables and buy other necessary food for my family. I can now pay for my children’s fees and stationery,” she proudly says.
“We now have plenty of water to use for sanitation, wash hands properly, clean the toilet and bath our children regularly,” she says, “In lack of enough water it was even difficult to keep our toilets clean which resulted into many diarrheal cases in the village. But since we started drinking this water, we haven’t seen any such cases.”
Why don’t you invite your husband back home?
She smiles and says, “I have already invited my husband and let him know about the development of water facility. We can now work together in vegetables farming, earn together and live together.”
Prem Bahadur Majhi, Chairperson of the Kalika Farmers Group, who manages all the agricultural products to the market, was planning to go back to Malaysia looking for job.
“I lived in Malaysia for two years, and was planning to go back again,” he says.
“But as things changed in this village, I changed my mind and started vegetable farming. I now sell potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage and other vegetables and have started a good earning, better than what I was earning in Malaysia.”
He now wants to stay back home, do something here in the country.
“I can now stay with my family,” Majhi, father of one child, says.
Out of 54 families, 27 are doing commercial vegetable farming.
DCA, through its partner SOSEC Nepal, provided trainings for vegetable farming and introduced the villagers with different kinds of vegetables including potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, chili pepper, spinach, carrot, beans, radish and many more.
“The project also taught these villagers to make plastic tunnels and grow organic vegetables utilizing both vertical and horizontal spaces by planting bio-pesticidal property crops such as coriander, garlic, onion and protect from insect/pest infestation” says Khanal.
“Later the communities themselves started making plastic tunnels and growing vegetables.”
Khanal believes that the change in the agricultural pattern has resulted into the ‘eating habits’ that had eventually contributed to the nutritional food access for the children in the area. “Earlier, there were times when we had to feed our child with no vegetables, sometimes salt or chili pepper, but now we have varieties of vegetables,” Jayasara says.
Deputy Mayor of Panchadewal Binayak Municipality, Ambika Chalaune says that it was a great initiative for the benefit of the people of Aali village and a successful implementation.
“We have been successful to bring water in the village with zero energy technology,” she says.
“These people forced to go to Karnali River risking their lives and spending a lot of time for ‘contaminated water’ are now able to drink ‘safe drinking water’ at their doorstep.” The project supported 2.8 million rupees (21,150EURO) and the Panchadewal Binayak Municipality supported 700,000 rupees (5,288 EURO) to make this installation successful.
DCA also provided various other supports as necessities to uplift the living standards of the people living in this village and is planning to develop a prototype village by 2020.
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