1 February 2011, Pimbahal , Lalitpur District in Nepal
In the cold morning of Kathmandu Valley women from 32 households struggle to extract drinking water from a 288-years-old traditional dug well located in Tun Chuka (communal courtyard with the dug well). The community has a rule – each household can draw a bucket of water for drinking and a jug of water for Nila (holy water to tribute to god) free of cost. If they need more water, they have to pay a rupee per bucket. The dug well opens from 5:30 AM – 7:30 AM and volunteers record the time each taken to fetch water.
The water level decreased since mid-January, now they wait for five minutes in every five draws of bucket to discharge water into the well spending at least an hour collecting water. Although the government supplies water, it only does once every five days. Lack of water storage capacity at homes has increased dependency on this well. The government water supply never flows through the taps connected to the five households, four households never even applied to the Drinking Water Corporation to get water supply system for fear of gambling their hard earned money for water that rarely flows.
Ground water level in Kathmandu is decreasing due to over extraction and increasing demand from the growing population. A decade long conflict forced people to migrate urban areas. If the situation prolongs, I doubt that people will be getting water from this very well after five years. This is an indicator of what could happen to Kanthmanduites. According to estimates, Melamchi Drinking Water project will not be able to fulfill demands of water supply in Kathmandu valley.
I look forward to hear from you on mindful of questions below:
- How long can we cope with such water scarcity?
- Do Kathmanduties have solution? Do we wait for a new constitution?
- Do we have a solution in our political context?
- How long will the people of Kathmandu valley struggle for their right?
- Shouldn’t our rigorous debates also focus on this matter?
Govind Shrestha, Research and Advocacy Officer, WaterAid in Nepal