Nepal: one development opportunity leads to another (English)
Nepal: one development opportunity leads to another (English)
|Title||Nepal: one development opportunity leads to another (English)|
|Publication Type||Web Article|
|Year of Publication||Submitted|
The broad benefits of an integrated water, sanitation and hygiene project which also included the promotion of kitchen gardening are described by Laba Hari Budhathoki of NEWAH in this case study from three villages in Nepal.
|Full Text|| |
This case study is based on projects implemented by Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH) in communities in the Eastern Region of Nepal as part of its goal to “improve the living standard of the Nepalese people in greatest need through equitable and sustainable delivery of safe water, health and sanitation services,” especially to women, poor and marginalised groups in remote and rural part of the country. The three project communities Sandhane, Sanodhappar and Jagretar were identified through surveys as communities deprived of development opportunities and without access to potable drinking water and adequate sanitation. People often suffered from water-borne diseases due to the use of unsafe water.
Starting from 2001 NEWAH implemented integrated drinking water, hygiene education and sanitation projects in these three communities in a phase wise basis in collaboration with Panchawati Village Development Committee (VDC), Panchawati Rural Development Center (PRDC), NEWAH’s long-term local partner and Srijansil Yuwa Samaj. The community was provided piped drinking water systems and partially subsidised latrine facilities along with hygiene education and trainings on health & sanitation, community management skills, masonry and kitchen gardening to sustain the programme as well as to improve their livelihood opportunities.
The 169 households from Sandhane, Sanodhappar and Jagretar communities of Panchawati VDC, Ward No. 9 in Udayapur district with a population of 914 people, live five hours difficult bus ride and an hour's walk from the district headquarters. The coverage of water, sanitation and literacy level is very low in this part of the district comprising of majority of communities deprived of development opportunities (coverage of improved source of water and sanitation was 69.7% and 24.4% respectively in the district (National Population Census 2001)).
Until two years back people bought vegetables from the local market despite the entire community consisting of farmers. Water, health and sanitation were major problems. Women had to walk long distances to fetch water. Due to open defecation and use of contaminated water, diseases such as diarrhoea, worms, jaundice and scabies troubled them a lot, mainly children. People had to spend money for their medical expenses.
Integrated drinking water, hygiene education and sanitation projects were implemented through the joint financial, technical, and management support of Panchawati VDC (local government unit) and NEWAH and collaborative efforts of local based NGO PRDC and Srijansil Yuwa Samaj. NEWAH does not implement any projects directly. It believes in providing safe water and sanitation services through communities and local partners and seeks to work with local government bodies to support the decentralisation initiative and to increase their accountability in water and sanitation service provision.
Piped water systems were constructed through community involvement and latrine construction was promoted at household level through partial subsidy. A project management committee representing both men and women was formed. Management trainings were provided to institutionalise and strengthen it and to build the capacities of its members for proper management and smooth operation of the project. The training focused on topics such as development, communication skills and its barriers, local participation etc. Similarly, masonry and caretaker trainings were also provided to develop human resources able to construct and maintain the systems.
During the health and sanitation training to the committee members, practical knowledge on contraction and control of diseases, the importance of personal hygiene, household and environmental cleanliness, importance of latrines, how faecal oral contamination occurs, diarrhoea etc. was provided. The training was aimed at building capacities of the committee to bring positive changes in the attitudes and beliefs of the people and motivate active participation of local men and women in the development of their community.
Likewise hygiene education classes were also conducted for the community people on topics like germs and contagious diseases, personal hygiene, faecal oral contamination, importance of latrine, proper management of wastewater and cleanliness of drinking water etc.
A two-day kitchen gardening training was organised to impart knowledge about kitchen gardening practices, management and collection of wastewater to grow vegetables in empty areas nearby houses, and promote production of healthy vegetables for self-consumption and income generation. Use of new technical and scientific methods, knowledge about seasonal seeds and ways of using manure in the vegetables were also taught to the participants.
Now people are able to drink clean water through the 26 tap stands constructed, and eat fresh vegetables simultaneously as kitchen gardening practices has increased rampantly. 158 latrines have been constructed in the community. Hygiene behaviour practices such as hand washing, covering food and drinking water and household and environmental cleanliness has improved. 83 of the households use garbage pits to dispose their wastes, 136 households use dish drying racks to dry their utensils, 90 households are involved in kitchen gardening and 65 households in Sandhane use improved cooking stoves.
Vegetables good for health and prosperity
A secondary school teacher from Jagretar, Yagya Raj Bhandari says, "before the implementation of the project only 10% of the households from this community used to eat vegetables with their meals, but now every household eat vegetables regularly." He feels that besides the grains being saved, eating vegetables on a regular basis has also had a positive impact on the health of the people.
Now many family households have also started selling vegetables. Dak Kumari Magar from Sandhane says she has enough money to buy stationary materials (like pencils and books) for her children from selling her kitchen garden vegetables. Earlier there was a lack of drinking water in the community, let alone the possibility of vegetable farming without any irrigation facilities. The locals previously had no knowledge or skill about kitchen gardening or availability of seeds. Now since every tole (cluster) has a water point, the problem of water has been solved and through the project the consumers have also gained knowledge about kitchen gardening. Maheshwor Dhungana from Jagretar informs that people have started taking interest in growing seasonal vegetables and farming pigs, goats and chicken.
Utilization of free time
After the implementation of the project the time consumed in carrying water has been saved. Calculating the time, Samjhana Bishwakarma a local woman expresses, "earlier we had to walk 40 minutes to fetch a gagri (pot) of water. This means spending 3 hours 20 minutes to fetch at least minimum 5 gagris of water required in a day. Now since the water point is only 5 minutes away from the house, in the time spent earlier to fetch 1 gagri of water, we now fetch 9 gagris of water." Now the time saved is utilised for farming, cleaning, relaxing and other miscellaneous activities. According to Rupesh Bishwakarma's experience the school children can concentrate on their homework from the time saved in carrying water.
Use of acquired skills for income generation
Bimal Nepali a resident of Maubasi, Panchawati VDC who acquired masonry skills through the project, has learned to construct water points and water tanks and is now earning a good living. He says that he earns around 30 to 35 thousand rupees annually through his skills.
Fundraising supports development of the community
Sandhane Project Management Committee member Awi Bahadur Magar says the changes noticed in the community is mainly because of introducing the community management concept, skill based knowledge, mobilisation of local means and resources during the implementation of the project. This also developed the feeling of self-reliance among the people. The maintenance fee collected from every consumer households in the community amounts to more than Rs. 22 thousand. This capital has been mobilised to provide loans for buying vegetable seeds, breeding domestic animals, for health check-ups and to carry out other income generative activities. Magar also reported that this committee has been able to register itself in the District Water Resource Committee.
Positive changes in the committee
Presently the users committee in each of the communities sits for regular meetings to discuss about their drinking water and sanitation progress and problems as well as about the community forests, roads and irrigation facilities. During such meetings discussions on how to increase the literacy level of out of school children, animal husbandry and new agricultural methods are also held and experiences are shared, informs the committee Treasurer Manju Magar. The Sandhane committee has recently constructed the community building through their own resources and uses it to conduct community activities.
Discussion: reasons for social upliftment
According to Social Mobiliser Ekraj Niraula who works on behalf of the District Development Committee (DDC) local development fund, the economic condition of the community has improved after the implementation of the community managed drinking water system in this sector. Kitchen gardening has increased, sanitation conditions have improved and medical expenses have been reduced, time spent in collecting water has been saved and this saved time is used for income generating activities. People have also learnt to save money. These are the main reasons behind improvement in the economic condition of the community. Lately there has been an increase in the number of children attending schools in these communities. There is unity among the community due to whichparticipation of people in community programmes have increased. Males have become more gender sensitive. Both male and female work equally. People sit for community meetings regularly. This reflects that people have developed a feeling of social ownership in all these communities.
Laba Hari Budhathoki, NEWAH, Eastern Regional Office, Biratnagar (c/o Anamika Singh firstname.lastname@example.org)