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

January 19, 2011

Is 100% sanitation coverage by 2017 realistic?

Filed under: Advocacy,Open defecation free,Sanitation — Rohit Odari @ 9:00 am

To date 95 Village Development Committees (VDCs) have been declared Open Defecation Free in Nepal. I won’t deny that these declarations have been a fantastic success in a country where open defecation is rife and is one of the main causes of water contamination and gastrointestinal diseases.

To understand better why open defecation is such an issue, take the example of someone defecating near a river in a hill region. It then rains and mixes with the water and people downhill then drink contaminated water. This will often lead to diahorreal diseases which are responsible for a staggering 10,500 infant deaths in Nepal each year. Let’s not forget the Jajarkot health disaster of 2009 when an outbreak of diarrhoea killed 346 people and directly affected a further 62,016 in 20 districts of the mid and far western part of the country. Low sanitation coverage was the major cause.

It is true that these 95 ODF VDCs are testimony to the work that has been carried out by the government and non government sector. The fact that the national budget now includes a separate line of Rs 190m for sanitation is evidence that the importance of sanitation is finally gaining recognition.

However, let’s not be too complacent. The government’s national sanitation target is for 100% total sanitation coverage by 2017, with every VDC being declared ODF. So if only 95 VDCs have been declared as ODF to date, to me this just means that people are still defecating openly in a further 3,818 VDCs across the country, meaning that only 2.4% of coverage has been achieved to date.

…Which brings me to the government’s “one household one toilet” policy introduced in the national budget speech of 2009. With around 5 million households in Nepal, and a minimum cost of 1500NRs to build the most basic latrine, a simple calculation tells me that installing a toilet in each household in Nepal would cost a minimum of 7.5b. This is without the further costs involved in raising public awareness and educating people of the benefits.

So I’m rather curious about how this ‘one toilet one household’ policy and its related action plan are progressing, because it seems to me that to achieve a completely Open Defecation Free Nepal, there is still a fair distance to go, wouldn’t you agree?

Written by Rohit Odari, Programme Manager – Rural, WaterAid in Nepal.

January 18, 2011

Photo of the week – 18 to 24 January 2011

Filed under: Hygiene,Photo of the week,Urban — Anita Pradhan @ 9:00 am

Community Health Volunteer from The Biratnagar giving orientation on Personal Hygiene to Savings and Credit Group of the community located in the Biratnagar Integrated Water Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Project (BiWASH) in Morang District of Eastern Nepal.

January 17, 2011

Easy rights, and difficult access?

Filed under: Ashu's WASH Mondays,WaSH rights,Water — Ashutosh Tiwari @ 10:28 am

It’s hard for friends out of Nepal to imagine that Nepal has problems with drinking water. “You have the Himalayas,” they say, “the world’s cleanest water sources.” True. But as the joke goes, “God gave us water sources, and forgot to give us the pipes!”

Though the Nepal government statistics suggests that there is 80 per cent water supply coverage, we know that safe piped water remains a scarce commodity in urban areas, where consumers water from trucks that sell water. And many taps are not functional in village areas, leaving the local inhabitants no choice but to trek to water sources themselves to fetch water for household consumption.

Against that backdrop, water problems in Nepal need to seen through two lenses: those of rights and access.

Looking at the problems from the ‘rights’ lens means that the right to water is seen, first and foremost, as a basic human right. Looking at them from the ‘access’ lens means that government, bodies, private companies and community efforts need to be mobilized in various combinations to use appropriate technology, distribution channels, and financial resources in ways that make the supply system sustainable for a long time.

In Nepal, arguing that even poor people must have access to safe drinking water because it’s their right to have so is often clear enough. Politicians, village chairmen, local government officers and local communities – they all agree fairly quickly with this rights-based argument.

But they can start to differ when discussions move to how to mobilize and make use of the resources in ways that result in viable and sustainable water supply systems for a community.

Bringing their varying opinions together and unifying such voices to design and implement a water supply system is in area in which much, much work needs to be done. Some of that work requires community mobilizing work. Some require managing donor or government relations. Others require engineering and technical work. Yet others require regular monitoring.

A well-designed water supply project starts with a rights-based discussion, and then moves quickly to “the how” of the rights, as in how the rights can be realized. Such a project usually has all these broad components of “access” – community, government, private sector, engineering work, distribution channels, financial viability, and sustainability: all well thought out and practiced in the field.

Written by Ashutosh Tiwari, Country Representative, WaterAid in Nepal.

January 14, 2011

Say it with a postage stamp

Filed under: Advocacy,Handwashing — Anita Pradhan @ 12:30 pm

Hand washing with soap is possibly the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhoearal diseases. Yet tragically, 10,500 children under the age of five continue to die each year in Nepal. Despite its life saving potential, hand washing with soap is seldom practiced and not always easy to promote.

Could something as simple and small as a postage stamp help to promote this critical message?

Issued by the Department of Postal Service (DoPS), a new stamp carrying the slogan ‘let’s develop the habit of hand washing with soap’ was launched in Nepal two weeks ago.

Not only is this a first for Nepal; it’s the first stamp in the world to carry such a hygiene related message. It forms part of the ‘global hand-washing’ campaign, promoted in Nepal in November, and is designed to reinforce the call for improved hygiene practices across the country.

The level of recognition the hand washing message has achieved so far is evident by the support this new initiative has received from government ministers.

The stamp was approved by both the Minister of Tourism; Sharad Singh Bhandari, and the Minister for Information and Communications; Shankar Pokharel, who describes hand washing promotion as ‘part of the Government’s Commitment to improving the health of Nepal’.

The stamp was launched together with a second new stamp to promote Nepal Tourism Year 2011. Launching the two stamps side by side is somewhat strategic. Sharad Singh Bhandari, explains that the Year of Tourism has been launched to start an economic revolution in the country.

However, launching home-stay programmes without promoting the need for hygiene improvements would be a recipe for disaster. The idea is that launching the two messages simultaneously will help to ensure Nepal’s Year of Tourism is a success.

If the new stamp serves to reinforce the message about hand washing with soap in a way that spurs behavioural changes and contributes towards a reduction in child mortality, then, small as it is, it will prove itself to be a life saving intervention.

Written by Yvonne Struthers and Anita Pradhan, Documentation Manager, WaterAid in Nepal.

January 13, 2011

Link of the week – 13 to 19 January 2011

Filed under: Financing,Link of the week,Sanitation — Anita Pradhan @ 9:00 am

Poor sanitation cost India $54 bn

NEW DELHI: Inadequate sanitation cost India almost $54 billion or 6.4% of the country’s GDP in 2006. Over 70% of this economic impact or about $38.5 billion was health-related with diarrhoea followed by acute lower respiratory infections accounting for 12% of the health-related impacts.

Click here for our link of the week – 13 to 19 January 2011

January 12, 2011

Will Rs 500 billion of investment in Nepal’s water industry contribute to our MDG targets?

Filed under: Financing,Key WASH issues,MDG,Uncategorized,Wider impacts — Govind Shrestha @ 9:30 am

Nepal’s ‘Millennium Development Goals progress report 2010’ is optimistic about Nepal achieving many of its MDG targets by 2015. The report indicates that some are very likely to be achieved and others quite likely. However, it predicts that three targets are unlikely to be achieved by 2015. These are: ‘achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all’, ‘universal access to reproductive health’ and ‘halving the proportion of population without sustainable access to improved sanitation’.

At a time when Nepal faces the huge challenge of making progress in these three MDG targets, an article published by The Kathmandu Post on January 7, 2011, ‘Water industry eyeing Rs 5000 b investment’ offers some encouragement. The article reports that the fast growing water industry in the country is expected to attract approximately Rs. 500 billion in investment from Indian and foreign companies, which would provide one
million jobs within the Nepalese market over the next three years.

This would certainly help Nepal’s government in terms of expecting progress in at least one of these targets: ‘achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all’.

I believe that an increase in employment and water supply could actually contribute indirectly to reproductive health and access to improved sanitation. It will therefore be the responsibility of the government and other stakeholders to endeavor to make this program a success.

Given this important development then, the country will need to place more focus on targets relating to reproductive health and sanitation in order to translate its commitment into reality.

Written by Govind Shrestha, Research Officer, WaterAid in Nepal

 

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