Ms. Jimma Magar, Chairperson of the proposed Chinekhola electrical lifting water supply scheme, together with other women of Narikot tole of Majhkot VDC were excited when the District WASH Unit of Tanahun carried out a survey in April 2015 and expressed possibility of lifting water from Chinekhola source. At that time, water discharge of the source was measured to be more than 0.35 liter per second, which was quite enough for the community of altogether 80 Janjati and Dalit households who faced extreme hardship in fetching their drinking water. In Majhkot VDC, out of 1522 households some 383 HHs (25%) still fetch water from unimproved source i.e kuwa, pandhera and khola kholsi, as per the District strategic WASH Plan of Tanahun 2014. These households lack access to any improved drinking water supply system.
The women of Narikot tole of Majhkot-3 start their mornings by walking more than seven kilometers down to the water source before dawn to fetch drinking water for the family. The descend to the source is relatively easy and takes about 40 minutes, but the ascend with full water load is challenging. It takes more than one and half hours for a single trip during the dry season. In rainy season it gets easier as seasonal water sources are found in nearby areas, says Maya Magar, one of the users of the proposed Chinekhola DWS scheme. During dry season Maya´s family copes by collecting rain water from roof top for their livestock, but this water is not safe for drinking. Maya´s family is an exception, as most households do not have rain water harvesting jar in their yard.
The cry for water is not new in the village, since in the past five years they have turned every stone to solve
the problem, visiting from office to office the WSSDO, DDC, Red Cross and other WASH related organizations. Lack of potential water sources for gravity scheme and unavailability of electricity for water lifting pose the main challenges for providing water supply. When the community learned that water could be lifted by use of solar power system, they saw a ray of hope to meet the end of their dream for water. Thereafter, they approached DDC for support of solar powered water lifting scheme. Soon after this the DDC also decided to support the village for electricity, and thereafter the community decided to opt for dual purpose use electricity for light and water lifting. Now both activities are going on side by side in the community.
Preparatory work for the electric lift scheme was done on time, and the community was almost ready to sign the agreement for scheme implementation. However, when the monitoring team reached the village in early February 2016 (Magh 2072) for first monitoring, they found out that the source discharge had reduced drastically and the available yield (0.05 lps) was not adequate for lifting. Then, the community opted for another source 'Dundurdikholsi' a little further down, which had previously had enough water (0.25 lps) to meet the demand for lifting. However, during the monitoring visit on February 16, 2016 (Falgun 4, 2072) it was found out that also this spring had nearly dried, with source discharge of 0.01 lps only.
Majhkot VDC of Tanahun is not the only VDCexperiencing depletion of water sources, similar
situations can be found in Tanahun, Syangja, Baglung and Gulmi: either the available water source(s) do not have enough water to serve all the households, or the source dries up completely in the dry season. Previously constructed schemes have also encountered similar problems. In case of Majhakot-3, the community is still hopeful that there could be a third option with the application of two-stage lifting from a source located down in the valley. This option is more expensive, but for the women of the village it would be a great relief as they would no more need to carry water daily. However, the rapid source depletion and transformation of perennial springs into seasonal springs has become catastrophic in many villages.
To cope with the depletion and drying up of springs, there is an urgent need for springshed management that aims to improve the recharge of aquifers that form the springs. Hence, RWSSP WN II is piloting spring revival interventions based on hydrogeological understanding of particular springshed areas. Currently, 14 springshed areas where the springs are in depleting condition or have transformed into seasonal springs, from 7 districts of Western and Midwestern Nepal are under research. After the springshed management training and hydrogeological survey in May 2016, the recharge area of particular spring(s) and the optimal recharge options have been identified. Works to improve recharge by simple recharge structures such as trenches, ponds, pits and afforestation are ongoing. These 14 springsheds will have to wait until next winter for the visible impact. In future, we hope to include recharge options in the scheme design of each and every drinking water supply scheme where the spring is reported to be in depleting condition.