M&E and Institutional Development Specialist, RWSSP-WN II
Fulfilling the people’s right for water enabled also fulfilling their right for sanitation. In January 2014, I visited in Sakhar VDC which is one of our working areas in Syangja District. We observed that there were two clusters of 52 households with total population of 357 in wards 2 and 3 that were facing hardship in their water situation.
The average water fetching time per round trip took about one hour. The villagers told us that they hardly use toilets due to problem of not having water available for sanitation purposes, and thus compromising also the achievement of open defecation free area status of the whole VDC. At that time, only some households had permanent toilets and rest of them had temporary toilets. People shared that they were still practicing open defecation due to lack of water despite the fact they had toilets.
The water and sanitation situation of the clusters was not encouraging during our monitoring visit and it was necessary to find a solution for the problem. The tentative plan of the Syangja District Development Committee was to support the community to construct a new water supply scheme. However, one of the problems was that there were no suitable water sources above the clusters.
About one year after my first visit to Sakhar VDC, I got another opportunity to visit the same clusters on March 24, 2015 – and this time to participate in inauguration of two new water supply schemes. In one year time, a lot of progress had taken place in the clusters. A new solar powered water lift scheme for 36 households and another small gravity system for 16 hosueholds had been constructed. Along that process the sanitation and hygiene situation had improved remarkably. Now, all households have permanent toilets and they have taken also steps towards total sanitation by improving waste management and installing drying racks for kitchen utensils.
The Finnish Ambassador, Mr. Asko Luukkainen, inaugurated the Pandhera solar lift water supply scheme and Dharapani Turture gravity flow scheme. Mr Luukkainen encouraged the users to operate and maintain the scheme well. In the event there were many representatives from the community, RWSSP-WN, DDC, VDC and other agencies.
Personally, I was very encouraged to see how much the sanitation and hygiene situation had improved as a result of better availability of water. Now, the water is pumped uphill the vertical height of 119 meters with solar power, and it is distributed through six community tap stands to the households. The water users pay a monthly fee to cover maintenance and the salary of a part-time maintenance worker.
In the previous situation, it was challenging for people to sustain their sanitation behavior due to lack of water, even though they already had toilets. It was more convenient for them to continue open defecation than to carry water every day uphill for sanitation purposes. By fulfilling the people’s right for water, it was possible to support behavior change in sanitation and hygiene as well.
The integrated approach considering both water supply and sanitation has a potential to produce sustainable results especially in the situation where the water availability becomes a constraining factor for the change.
Photo 1. Finnish Ambassador, Mr Asko Luukkainen inaugurating the water scheme 24.3.2015
Photo 2. Information board of the Pandhero water scheme (solar lift)
Photo 3. The water tank that now makes it possible to use also toilets