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

November 4, 2010

Can we really say we’re reaching out to everyone?

Filed under: Advocacy,Equity and inclusion — Tags: , , , — Om Prasad Gautam @ 11:52 am

Since WaterAid’s mission is to reach marginalised and vulnerable people, equity and inclusion cuts across all of our work. However, a recent training session for WaterAid staff on equity and inclusion raised some important points for consideration.It became clear that if we are to make WASH facilities accessible to all members of society, including those with disabilities such as wheelchair users or visually impaired people, significant adaptations will need to be considered. Adaptations could include providing aids and equipment, modifying existing latrines and designing and constructing accessible, usable, safe, hygienic and affordable latrines which respect privacy and dignity, using inclusive, appropriate and low-cost design and technologies.

To give an example of equity and inclusion in action, an accessibility audit of sanitation facilities at a school was carried out as part of the training, revealing some shocking results. When auditing the boys latrines, it became evident that none of the 16 squatting pan latrines are inclusive. There was a lack of a clear path to reach the toilet block, no guide rail or landmark to help visually impaired people follow the path and uneven steps in between paths causing potential difficulties to wheelchair users. In addition, the toilet entrances were narrow, with all the doors opening inwards, insufficient light inside the toilets, and nothing to hold onto while squatting. There was also no water inside any of the latrines and no water points nearby. The hand washing stations that were installed earlier outside the toilets are also now fully damaged with none of them currently functional.

To make the facilities more inclusive, two key changes were suggested to the school, the first being the construction of an accessible new toilet close to the classroom blocks with one cubical for boys and one for girls. The second: to modify the existing toilets, making at least one of the cubicles accessible and ensuring all toilets are kept clean and hygienic with water and soap provided for hand washing. This will improve the situation at this school but this is obviously just one school.

To ensure we are working to target all marginalised and vulnerable people in our work, we clearly need to embed equity and inclusion indicators into all of our data collection tools and systems and into all of our programmes and plans. While our Nepal ‘country paper’ already includes several equity and inclusion related components, there is still great potential in terms of the impact we can make. We could, for example, work with the government to develop a technical standard for inclusive sanitation, or even run a job fair specifically targeting those with disabilities.

Shared learning and collaborative working in the area of equity and inclusion will also be key, to allow us to make a more powerful impact both at a practical and policy level. World Vision Ethiopia, who also attended the training, have been working on incorporating disability issues into their health, education, agriculture, water and sanitation programmes for the past three years. Since both organisations work within the WASH sector, there is potential for us to work collectively on accessibility issues within WASH, developing, for example, a minimum standard for inclusiveness within WASH projects.

I am optimistic about the impact that WaterAid can have in this area but would obviously be interested to hear any feedback and comments from our readers on these issues.

Written by Om Prasad Gautam, Social Development Advisor, WaterAid in Nepal

October 5, 2010

When there is a will, there is a way

Filed under: Advocacy,Citizen Action — Tags: , , — Shikha Shrestha @ 6:36 pm

Images of natural beauties in rural parts of Nepal are so captivating that people are eagerly waiting for trip opportunities to recharge themselves with these natural batteries. WaterAid in Nepal together with Federation of Water and Sanitation Users in Nepal (FEDWASUN) are engaged in citizen action program for promoting governance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector through constructive engagement of people in WASH interventions. Trip to Dang began with high eagerness to learn and document best practices and efforts carried forward by FEDWASUN Dang to increase WASH access to poor people in Dang. Cloudy path in Nepalgunj flight was reminding us to be positive as “every cloud has a silver lining”. With positive and learning aptitude, we began our journey to Dang.

Photo 1: Cloudy path telling us to be positive

It is true, you get what you look for. We were bestowed with cases of success brought forward by hard works of community members. It was impressive to watch Kuirepani Women Water and Sanitation Users Committee members articulating their needs with government visitors from Kathmandu without any hesitance. It was indeed a sign of empowerment as these women members were telling how they are balancing both their social and family responsibilities together without compromising their dignity. They were proud to share their story of declaring their community as open defecation free zone with support from all community members including men, shares Sita Ale, President of women community member.

Photo 2: Empowered Kuirepani women community

It was not only women as groups who paved their way towards success. There were several individual cases like that of Sajana Budha Magar, a 23 year old single woman from Mankapur. She shared her inspirational story of life transformation after receiving skill based training from FEDWASUN Dang. The training had made her financially independent so that she was no more burden to her family. Even community members were showing us how she used her income for bringing electricity to her home. Financial independency provided her confidence to make decisions of her own life. Organizations like FEDWASUN should continue providing favorable environment for women like her so that she would receive all community support to live her life with pride and security.

Photo 3: Sajana sharing her story of transformation

Kulmohar located in Chailai Village of Dang was location of 65 households of squatter based in government forest area. Prem Bahadur Pun Magar, President of Kulmohar Users Committee shared hardships of women in collecting water from far distance. FEDWASUN lobbied with government agencies to select the squatter area for providing water supply under Community Drinking Water Project. The communities were delighted to have tap in near by area as well as toilet to protect their privacy and protection from wild animals. They were proudly showing their concrete stones as means of alternative income generation as women could invest their time saved from water collection.  It was thrilling to hear story from old lady about using toilet in 81 years!

Photo 4: Old lady using toilet in 81 years

Well established community user committees like Narayanpur and Beljhundi Users Committees had building of their own. They seemed more systematic as they had full paid staff members looking after the user committee interventions. These committees were key source of influencing and lobbying with decision makers. They were working in the areas of raising sanitation awareness so that the concept of open defecation free zone could flourish in whole Dang.

Photo 5: Building of Narayanpur Users Committee

Traces of conflict seemed very faint in comparison to different destinations enriched with clean flow of water. It was like a dream for people who were used to foul smelly rivers. If community are together to manage their resources then it would not be tough to protect natural resources, was the story of the clean flowing water. Wise people should learn from other’s mistakes so Dang should not repeat story of Kathmandu rivers so people will always dream of visiting these natural scenarios. When there is a will, there is a way seems to be the motto of the trip!

Photo 6: Clean flowing river of Dang

Written by Shikha Shrestha, Advocacy and Research Officer, WaterAid in Nepal

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