Nepal WASH Blog Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) & Development in Nepal

April 1, 2011

Sanitation and latrine

There are only three more months left until the start of Nepal Tourism Year 2011. According to official records Nepal has 735 hotels, 14,272 rooms and 28,485 beds (on per day basis) registered. The prospective tourists who will use these rooms during their stay do not know about access to basic sanitation in the form of latrines in Nepal as there is no data/ information provided on this matter. Food and latrine are equally important for people; this is a proven fact that has to be applied to the tourism sector as well.

The National Tourism Plan has set different goals in order to make Nepal Tourism Year 2011 successful, one of their main aims is to attract one million international tourists and also establish a quarter million new tourist sites. These expected tourists who will visit the different sites will also need to have facilities available for them according to their needs. According to a report released by the Nepal Water Supply and Sewage department, in 2010 alone 106 million people (57 per cent of the population) do not have a latrine in their homes. Nearly half of the total population practice open defecation as they have no other choice. It is imperative that there be the same/equal number of latrines made so that the tourists who are able to use this facility. Tourists also remain unaware about latrine/toilet facilities in Nepal.

The Tourism Plan prepared in 2067 BS determined that by establishing home-stay programmes, local communities in rural and urban areas could take part in income generating programs. However in order to qualify for the home-stay there are certain criteria’s that they must fulfill. One such criteria being that all home-stay participating houses should have a latrine and proper sanitation however it has not been stated anywhere in the policy what the condition of the latrine should be like or how proper sanitation methods will be monitored. It is possible that during the proposed tourism year we might not be able to provide basic sanitation and hygiene facilities adequately/ according to the number of expected tourists.

According to WaterAid Nepal’s calculations if the expected number of a million tourists arrived for the Tourism Year, Nepal would require 77,000 latrines at a minimum. An ordinary pit latrine costs NRS 5000, according to calculations it would require 75 million NRS to make such latrines only. When we look at the figures separated for sanitation by the annual budget we need an additional 39 million. In order to make tourism year 2011 a success we need to double our investment in the sanitation sector.

Within the next 10 years the Government of Nepal hopes to uplift the Nepalese people’s lives through economic growth, stakeholders have tried to bring about development through the tourism industry in Nepal by announcing Tourism Year 2011. This is why it is important that we organise accordingly in the areas of hygiene and sanitation. Although announced a few years ahead little preparation has been made for tourism year and any preparation on hygiene and sanitation is now late. A few years back another Asian nation, Thailand, was also in a dire state as their sanitation and hygiene similar to Nepal. Today Thailand has developed by giving priority to sanitation and hygiene which in turn has helped boost its tourism; the same idea can be applied in Nepal as well.

If basic infrastructures are provided for tourists it will positively contribute towards change in tourism industry. How many tourists should be expected and how we will provide them with basic service has an effect on environmental and other sectors of the industry as well. It can be clearly seen that providing proper access to latrines will contribute towards developing the tourism industry. If assured of having proper latrine facilities tourists will have one less thing to worry about, this can be appealing to tourists who wish to travel.

This is English translation of the article written in Nepali language by Ms Anita Pradhan, Communications Officer at WaterAid in Nepal. The article is published on The Kantipur Daily on 26 October 2010.

January 5, 2011

Sanitation in Nepal – a long road ahead

Filed under: Livelihood,MDG,Sanitation — Kabir Das Rajbhandari @ 6:45 pm

Sanitation is finally being recognized as a priority on the development agenda. Water and Sanitation supply experts in particular are well aware that this hasn’t come too soon. A neglect of sanitation in this country has led to Nepal ranking as the lowest country in South Asia in terms of sanitation coverage. In statistical terms, this means 14 million people are deprived from basic sanitation services; that’s 51% of the population, and only 41% of public and community schools have toilet facilities.

So, why is this such an issue?

Firstly, poor sanitation leads to sickness and disease. Unsafe sanitation leads to higher rates of infant mortality and infections, contributes to malnutrition and generally a weaker human condition. Inadequate sanitation may actually be the biggest killer of children as 10,500 children die from diarrhea every year in Nepal before reaching their 5th birthday. We know that more than 80% of diseases are caused because of unsafe sanitation facilities and unhygienic practices. We also know that safe sanitation facilities can prevent diarrhea by 45%.

Secondly, a lack of sanitation limits economic growth. Without good sanitation, workers are less healthy and therefore less productive, living shorter lives and saving and investing less. Children are also less likely to attend school. Meeting the Millenium Development Goals’ (MDG) sanitation target would yield economic benefits. Even conservative estimates predict that adequate investments in sanitation could provide an additional 3% of economic growth.

We can breathe a small sigh of relief that it is finally becoming more widely understood that a lack of sanitation facilities in schools has led to low levels of female enrollment and to high levels of females dropping out of school. We can also be pleased that, as a direct result of the water and sanitation related MDG targets, the government in Nepal has also recognised sanitation in its PRSP targets, ‘All the people of Nepal will have sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2017.’

However, let’s not be too complacent. To achieve universal access to sanitation facilities by 2017 would require an annual investment of Rs. 7.5 billion. Fortunately, the current trend of budget investment is around Rs. 9.15 billion. The challenges then, are to ensure the government’s continued financial commitment, equitable distribution, ie ensuring that the finance is directed to low coverage districts, effective use of the allocated resources and also that sustainability mechanisms are in place.

Each year, since 2006, an average of 4 million people are provided with basic sanitation services. However, it is estimated that only 62% of initiatives taken for sanitation access are sustained. At this rate of drop-off, it will take until 2031 to achieve the national target, even if the financing trend does exceed requirements.

So yes, while there has indeed been progress, I urge us all to remember how far we still have to go to achieve as much recognition for sanitation as there now is for water supply.

Written by Kabir Rajbhandari, Programme Manager – Urban, WaterAid in Nepal

December 24, 2010

Sanitation = Neglect. Why?

Filed under: Livelihood,MDG,WaSH rights — Kabir Das Rajbhandari @ 9:00 am

At WaterAid we believe sanitation to be a basic human right. Yet a staggering 16 million people in Nepal do not have access to sanitation facilities, and an appalling 1,500 Nepali children die each year due to preventable diseases before reaching their fifth birthday. So why is sanitation being so badly neglected in this country?

There are several possible answers. A poor cousin of water provision, sanitation suffers from a low profile, often being misunderstood and equated with ‘dirt’. There is clearly a lack of awareness amongst society in general about the benefits or the urgency of sanitation, a problem that causes sanitation to be seen as low priority and causes potential funding for sanitation projects to be directed elsewhere. Organisations responsible for implementing sanitation projects often lack the capacity to carry out each stage of a given project effectively, leading to a lack of faith in sanitation projects. Add to this the fragmented institutional arrangements that we’ve endured in Nepal, and you can begin to understand how difficult is has been for sanitation to reach the national development agenda.

There has of course been some progress. The Millenium Development Goals’ targets set for 2015 to halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and the PRSP target for universal access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2017 have both helped to increase awareness. A separate budget of 8 crore has been allocated to sanitation in Nepal, but this is somewhat small fry when you consider WaterAid’s estimation that universal access across the country will not be possible without a budget of 100 crore. Each year since 2006, 4 million people have been provided with basic sanitation services, yet WaterAid estimates that only 62% of these initiatives are sustained. Without any new creative or holistic approaches that might accelerate progress, the national target set for 2017 will not be reached until 2031.

The way forward is, I feel, to identify more links between sanitation and sustainable livelihoods in order to tackle together both the huge lack of sanitation and the fact that the government will not be able to provide for the needs of the poor. The approach will need to be a user-centred one where the poor are viewed as informed consumers, producers, workers and citizens, rather than beneficiaries. Linked with livelihoods, sanitation will be seen in the broader context of enabling (local) governments, enabling communities, enabling markets and social and economic development.

In this model, small scale service providers will be able to play a role in sanitation provision by performing complementary roles in transport, cleaning, construction, thereby generating employment opportunities.

With support from enabling governments and donors, local NGOs and CBOs will be able to take up stronger roles within sanitation such as training, facilitating processes and mediation. The micro-enterprise concept could also be incorporated in order to tap into sanitation related skills and services, and these micro organizations should be encouraged to promote technical innovation by launching viable technologies like ‘Ecosan’ which in turn help to promote environmental sanitation.

Civil servants, government officials and laborers in the water and sanitation sector will need to be motivated to work towards poverty reduction and to show more solidarity with the poor by formulating and implementing people-friendly sanitation policies and guidelines.

Sanitation is then, in my view, fundamental to livelihood improvement among urban and rural poor people. Raising the profile of sanitation in this way will support poverty alleviation by enhancing livelihoods. And let’s not forget that improved sanitation will help to promote dignified living; a basic, surely, for all citizens of ‘New Nepal’.

Posted by Kabir Rajbhandari, Programme Manager – Urban, WaterAid in Nepal

This blog was created by WaterAid under the creative commons licence