A step away from migration

Women in Devichaur who contributed labor to lay out pipes for drinking water. Photo by: Pratima Pokharel/Oxfam

Pratima Pokharel, Kathmandu

Some interventions can prevent people from being forced to migrate. An example of reconstructing water systems has just proved the same.

In the first week of January, Oxfam received a request from Devichaur Village Development Committee in Lalitpur district to construct water supply system as the people there had been facing problems after water sources dried up.

Two weeks later, Oxfam went to monitor the situation in Devichaur. All the sources had indeed dried up after the April 2015 earthquake. Ward Secretary Eknarayan Kafle, who had reached out to Oxfam on behalf of the community, said the community people were spending their entire days collecting water.

“Fifty-year-old Fulmaya Lopchan recalls, “It used to take me about a whole day to go an alternate water source to bring just one bucket of water.” Social worker Pramila Ghimire ädds, “We stayed awake so many nights so that we could be ahead in the queue to fill water.” “Our community was about to migrate due to scarcity of water after the earthquake,” says Bishwomani Timilsina adding, “We were planning to sell our livestock as well so that we could use water for them for drinking and other purposes.

Oxfam did an assessment to see if any sourced could be tapped to supply water. Ghatte Khola, a nearby river was explored. It was found that this source could benefit people of ward 4, 5, 6 and 8 as the discharge was 1lit/sec which was good enough to serve the community that mostly comprised people of indigenous communities.

Oxfam agreed to help the people of Devichaur and laid pipe to supply drinking water to 325 Households. Now more than 1600 people have directly benefited from the scheme. The community members also contributed their labour to lay the water pipes.

We did not imagine our lives would be this easy today’’ said Kabita Timilsina who collects water now from near her house. “We’re very thankful to Oxfam.’’  As the water started flowing from the pipes laid out by Oxfam, students and teachers of Shree Devi Higher Secondary School were also benefited. Principal of the school Laxman Prasad Bajhgain says students had to bring 2.5 litre of water every day from home to use for different purposes at the school like drinking and cleaning of the latrine but after this support there is no problem of water at the school.”