Campaigning for water scarcity is not a new phenomenon in Nepal. The presence of active members of End Water Poverty Nepal, Freshwater Action Network Nepal and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Nepal – WSSCC Nepal chapter together with organizations including WaterAid in Nepal, NEWAH, NGOFUWS, FEDWASUN, Guthi and private partners like Standard Chartered Bank, Rotary Club and so the list goes on. If I’ve missed any organization that has been a strong supporter then please do not be offended, all your contribution is highly appreciated.
Nepal Walk for Water campaign aims to raise awareness of the water and sanitation crisis and demand concrete action from national political leadership. The walk emphasizes the need for solidarity to ensure equal access to safe water and sanitation recognizing the crisis as prioritized national development agenda. It calls for water and sanitation to be a political priority, for investments to reach communities in need, and that water and sanitation is not ignored anymore.
Federation of Water and Sanitation Users in Nepal (FEDWASUN) mobilized their members in various districts. The walk in Dhading district was led by Honorable Minister Ganga Lal Tuladhar, Ministry of Education along with the Chief District Officer, Local Development Officer and Chief of Water District Division. Political party leaders, district based water supply and sanitation related bureaucrats, concerned civil society organizations were present in all these walks.
Photo: Honorable Minister leading the walk at Dhading
Uniqueness of the walk was showcased by carrying of water vessels in the walks organized by FEDWASUN. The photographs were publicized by National Daily that hyped up the coverage of water scarcity in the country. The symbolic representation of water vessel is found to be successful in capturing media attention. The challenge for the future however is how to maintain the creativity of the campaigns without duplicating the same symbol? The captivating rally of Dang with Tharu women carrying vessels on their head showcased their rich culture. Rallies with traditional music (“Painche Bajha”) were another attraction for walks in Gulmi and Pyuthan.
Photo: Overwhelming participation of women with water vessels
The media coverage of the campaign complains of organizing these events only on global events. On contrary, how these events help raise awareness in remotest parts should be analyzed. In a remote district like Doti , in presence of small children political leader Mr. Ank Bhadhar Khadkha commented “We understand the importance of water, and promote the use of fresh and waste water in vegetable garden” . These campaigns not only raise awareness but also support local government agencies and political leaders to be accountable to the issues of people at the ground.
The success of these awareness campaigns is overwhelming. However, I agree with the critique that there should be sustained momentum of this campaigning energy so that real change in accountability and responsibility pattern of local leaders and citizens are evidenced with increased coverage of water and sanitation access.