“I feel very proud to have contributed in solving one of the main issues of our village – safe access to water,” says Kalpana, 41, a resident and Village Maintenance Worker (VMW) at Chyangli, Dhading in Nepal. Kalpana a mother of three has been an active community member who is always hands-on and ready to provide support when needed.
Earlier, communities in Chyangli were deprived of proper water supply since many years. People, especially women, had to walk an hour to fetch one bucket of water for their daily survival. “This has been the situation as far as I can remember,” says Kalpana. Their daily routine would revolve around when and how to fetch water easily through nearest water stream. Community people faced lots of hardship due to lack of water in their village which is predominantly inhabited by vulnerable Chepangs, Dalits and Janajatis, Brahmins and Chettris.
After the introduction of the Purnima project by Oxfam in Dhading, community people were happy, knowing that they will soon have access to water. The program aims to bring access to safe water, sanitation and Hygiene facilities. They were also eager to contribute and support in different ways possible in constructing the supply system. Many took part in the village maintenance training provided by Purnima project. Kalpana, a member of mother’s group at her village also took part in the training and came out as a village maintenance worker. As an only female in a team of four, Kalpana has aggressively contributed in constructing 115 water taps through Chyangli Water Supply System project implemented via Oxfam in partnership with local organization, Prayash Nepal. Thanks to the Purnima project, people are getting direct access to water at their homes and no longer have to walk hours to fetch water for their daily needs.
A Water Users Committee (WUC) has been formed, and Kalpana as a village maintenance worker handles the smooth supply of water at household level. The committee played key role in coordinating the construction of water infrastructure including taps while also introducing “One Home One Toilet and One Home One Drying Rack” awareness campaign at their community. Once the household has both the toilets and utensil drying racks, it was then connected to the house hold tap at their premises. As a result, all the homes in the village has a toilet, utensil drying rack and water taps, giving them an all-round solution to water, sanitation and hygiene.
After the supply of water, to minimize the risk of unhealthy water consumption, regular monitoring and inspection of the water is done by the committee members regularly who put chlorine for purification, make sure the sedimentation tank is executing well, water infrastructures and pipelines are protected, etc.
Through the project, around 24 water supply systems have been built in Dhading, directly benefiting 16,945 community people. In Chyangli alone, 115 water taps in each household plus one school and one community building are providing safe and direct access to water. Three water tanks consisting of 50,000 liters of water has been built which are directly connected to the household taps. Overall, the Purnima project is being implemented in Dhading, Gorkha, Nuwakot and Lalitpur and aims to provide safe access to WASH facility for communities whose lives were miserable without proper WASH facility.
Construction of water systems are managed by water users committee and technical support is provided by Oxfam and its partners. After the approval of design and estimate of the water supply system, MoU is done between water users committee, local government and Oxfam’s partners. Agreement with water users committee is complete between water users committee and Oxfam partners with clear role and responsibilities. Non-local materials are purchased through the local partners and fund is transferred to WUC for other work such as procurement of local materials and workmanship. Certain construction activities such as excavation of pipeline, collection of local materials is ensured through the community contribution.
Since the earthquake in 2015, the Nepali people in the affected districts have shown enormous resilience in coping with the devastation and trauma. However, many months after the earthquake, basic services have still not been stored and the initial humanitarian response is winding down even before the longer-term reconstruction and development phase has started.
Purnima vision is for a transformational program that supports people, especially poorest and most vulnerable, to rebuild their community and livelihood so that their lives are better and more secure than before the earthquakes. The Purnima program aims to rebuild the damaged water supplies, ensure that the road destroyed by landslides are built back higher standard and enable the better planning to deliver more resilient infrastructure. Program will see the opportunity to strengthen economy by placing small and medium sized enterprises at the heart of reconstruction effort. Overall, the program will contribute in Government of Nepal’s aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goal number six to ensure access to water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Having water taps at their compounds has saved time and energy, encouraging them to utilize their time in other productive activities. Majority of households have connected the waste water to their kitchen garden. And, they can contribute more timing in farming and other household chores, especially spending time with their children. Kalpana’s husband has also been very supportive towards her and supports her in household chores.
By Sofila Vaidya