Bringing water to the community – determination and success
Bahadure Women Empowerment Centre formed at Parashuram Municipality of Dadeldhura district in Nepal has played the lead role in sorting out the main problem at their Ghatteplot village – access to drinking water. Ghatteplot village lies in between Rangun and Mahakali rivers. Ironically, the communities living in the river basin struggled to have access to safe drinking water. Formation of the group has led to solving many issues and this has been by far an important concern from the community people. They were facing the problem of water since many years, compelling them to drink water from Rangun river, one of the main but open sources of water in Dadeldhura.
Thirty members of the Women Empowerment Center (WEC) identified various issues and dealt with high priority in their regular WEC meetings. This issue of water was discussed many times as it concerned the survival and health of people. Drinking water directly from Rangun river, an open source, had high chances of transferring communicable diseases. And, this also triggered their conversations at most times which led to identifying possible ways out of this problem.
The women themselves discussed about deep water boring which was considered less expensive and manageable by the community. However, for this to happen, they decided to lobby with the local government at ward office for the budget allocation. Meanwhile, they also requested Rural Women's Development and Unity Centre (RUWDUC), local partner organization for Oxfam in Nepal who are supporting to implementing the Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA) project at Dadeldhura. They requested for necessary management to conduct the meeting. During the lobby meeting at ward office, the members of WEC brought ward chairperson’s attention by informing about the unsafe water they were drinking and its consequences. They requested to allocate budget for deep water boring. The ward chairperson informed them about the financial constraints, however, promised to request the municipality office.
Women Empowerment Centre formed through TROSA project carried the main objective of increased participation and influencing by women in trans-boundary water governance, policies and processes. "After my marriage I came to this village after 12 years. I had been seeing people drinking dirty water from Rangun as there was no other option. Many gave speech and commitments to provide clean drinking water to us, the leaders changed but our problem remained the same,” said Khageswori Hamal, a Vice Chairperson of Bahadure Women Empowerment Centre. There were five WECs in Parshuram Municipality, Dadeldhura and each one is working to identify and solve key issues concerning their lives and communities.
The members of Bahadure WEC did not stop their advocacy campaign as they were the ones who were facing problems related to water in their daily lives. They planned to directly lobby with the Parshuram Municipality. They submitted the demand letter to the Mayor of Parshuram Municipality in presence of the Deputy Mayor and the members of Municipality. "We kept on following with our demand and issues during meetings at Ward Office and Municipality continuously," Bhawana Khadka, the Chair of Bahadure WEC.
After the regular coordination and follow up, the Parshuram Municipality allocated three lakhs twenty-five thousand Nepali rupees for deep water boring. The Municipality also sent an Officer to form the Construction committee. "I also realize the problem of drinking water at Ghatteplot which is at the junction of the Rangun river and the Mahakali river and will plan to solve this issue soon with the budget allocation from ward and municipality,” said Mr. Bhim Bahadur Saud, Mayor of Parshuram Municipality.
Ms. Khageswori Hamal, Vice Chairperson of Bahadure WEC was selected as the Chairperson of the construction committee comprising of nine members. The initial study for the boring was done by the Municipality Office.
The women of Ghatteplot selected proper place for Deep Water Boring, learnt about technology. Eventually, they were successful to bore water from the ground. Women are very happy seeing the clean drinking water coming from land. The women have been able to save their time to fetch water from river and are now have direct access to safe water. They are now able to give time in income generation activity and other areas of work. Most importantly, they do not have to face the problem of communicable diseases any longer. "Due to regular follow ups and coordination, we have been successful. It has eased our work load and made our life simple. We would like to thank everyone involved in this process," says Pashupati Hamal, a member of the ward.
Achieving this with their own willpower, they decided to further request ward office and Agriculture Section at Parshuram Municipality to provide Electricity at convenient rates which is four times cheaper than normal electricity price. They were successful in lobbying for it. As a result, they used the water boring in cheaper electricity price. Now, the Bahadure WEC meetings have decided to collect fund and lobby with the local government for the sustainability of deep-water Boring. The fund can be used for maintenance and distribution of water lines at Ghatteplot. This successful lobbying and advocacy have set an example for other communities as well. Their determination has amplified women’s profile and influence in dialogues and decision-making on water management and water infrastructures.