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

February 8, 2013

Wheelchair accessible public toilet in Kathmandu?

In my first post, I talked about Sita Maya’s difficulty in going to the toilet, which was at a distance from her house in Baglung. But a lack of access to toilet is something urbanites with disabilities such as me face too – all the time.

I am a wheelchair user in Kathmandu. I try to travel around Kathmandu as much as I can. But it is difficult for me to find a wheelchair accessible toilet in the city. Most cinema halls, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, banks, private organisations, NGOs, INGOs and even government offices do not have toilets that provide access to a wheelchair user.

The blogger - Sagar Prasai


December 20, 2010

No MDGs without toilets

Filed under: Ashu's WASH Mondays,MDG,Sanitation — Tags: , , — Ashutosh Tiwari @ 3:45 pm

Since my previous job was in the private sector, I am often asked about the differences between the private sector and the development sector. In the former, goals are narrower and sharper: meet the quarterly sales targets, beat the competition, show profits for growth, and the like.

For a firm, the metrics and the consequences have to move in the same direction. Else, if you do not sell enough, you will not be able to pay your employees; and, if you cannot pay your employees, your production halts, and that means you cannot make sales, etc.

In the development sector, however, goals are loftier, more vague and sometimes come with an overtone of moral superiority (which is not a bad thing!). The goals are also diffused: reduce poverty, make poor people’s health better, raise employment levels, and so on. In development, the metrics and the consequences can move in opposite directions: for instance, if poverty is not reduced, then, more money is lobbed at the problem.

Indeed, there has been much criticism of the development sector for not having agreed-upon sharper, clearer and measurable goals to reduce poverty, and only throwing money after money at a particular problem.

Happily, much of that vagueness was in the past. Thanks to better monitoring tools and methods, and to donors’ insistence, things are clearer than they used to be, though development debates are still going on as to what to measure and how.

In 2000, after several years of discussions, world leaders adopted what has been called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These are “eight time-bound global and local targets on income poverty, hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality, and environmental degradation”.

The targets are set to be achieved by developing countries, including Nepal, by 2015. To that end, for the last 10 years, most development institutions in Nepal, including WaterAid, have recast their work as contributions to meeting the national MDGs.

Now that the third leg of the 15-year stretch has started, how close is Nepal to meeting its MDGs?

Happily, it’s on track, according to a recent report published by the Nepal Planning Commission and UNDP. But – and it’s a big but – in three things: in achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, achieving universal access to reproductive health, and, (goal number 7) in halving proportion of population without access to improved sanitation such as safe water and toilets.

Obviously, we consider the lack of progress on meeting the sanitation goal to be especially important in that it is basic hygiene that serves as visible-to-all indicators for progress.

Now that it’s on record that Nepal’s MDG progress can be slowed down due to its not meeting the sanitation goals, much work remains to be done on sanitation. In my other postings, I will share the data and thoughts with regard to what can be done to do more.

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

December 17, 2010

Why fuss about sanitation?

Filed under: MDG,Sanitation,Urine — Tags: , , — Kabir Das Rajbhandari @ 5:46 pm

It is not an exaggeration to say that poor sanitation limits economic growth and cripples developing world economies. We know that poor sanitation invariably leads to low productivity. Without good sanitation, workers are less healthy and therefore less productive, live shorter lives, save and invest less and their children are less likely to attend school. On the other hand, with good sanitation, women, for example, are healthier, have more time for childcare and for income generating work. 

It has been estimated that meeting the sanitation Millenium Development Goals’ (MDG) target would yield economic benefits in the region of $63 billion each year (rising to $225 billion if universal access to sanitation were achieved.) Even conservative estimates predict that adequate investments in sanitation could provide the estimated annual 3% economic growth. Put even more simply, for every $1 invested in sanitation, $9 is returned to national economies in increased productivity and a reduced burden of healthcare. 

There are many examples of how improved sanitation can contribute towards economic development. For example, huge quantities of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in human excreta, particularly in urine, are wasted in sewerage systems and pit latrines. This represents a financial loss for public and private sewerage treatment services. Both rural and urban agriculture could benefit from nutrients from human urine and faeces to improve people’s livelihoods. 

Also, by preventing human excreta from polluting the human environment, the transmission of pathogens is also reduced. People are able to enjoy better health, allowing them to spend more time and energy on productive activities, mobilizing their assets while the costs of poor health are reduced. 

It is undeniable that improved sanitation is fundamental to improved livelihoods. Who can argue against the importance of safe sanitation and its effects on the livelihood improvements of the poorer sections of society? 

Buddhi and his grand-daughter Gyani Maya Sipai from Thimee, Bhaktapur, Nepal with produce grown using compost from latrines

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

December 7, 2010

Three burning issues

Filed under: Key WASH issues — Tags: , , , — Ashutosh Tiwari @ 4:34 pm

There’s an old story that research students tell one another. A professor once asked one such student, “What are the three burning problems in your field?” The student thought for a while, and gave her list of three big problems in her field of study.

The professor then asked, “Are you working on any one of them?” The student shook her head. The professor said, “If you are not working on any one of the most pressing problem of your field, then you are simply wasting time.” How simple, and how true!

Somehow, this story has stayed with me, and I’ve often thought very hard about the directness of the professor’s advice whenever I look at any new field. And so, as a relative new-comer to the WASH field (i.e. I joined WaterAid in Nepal only in January 2010 as the Country Representative), I’ve thought hard about  applying the professor’s question to our water and sanitation work in Nepal.

What are the three most pressing problems for WASH in Nepal?

Your list may vary. But here’s mine for the time being.

  • The excruciatingly slow pace of ODF declaration. Only about one hundred out of about 4000 village units in Nepal have been declared ODF (in varying degrees) as of December 2010. At this rate, the national goal of water and sanitation for all by 2017 will have to be pushed back by a century and more!
  • Poor water quality surveillance. WaterAid in Nepal aims to provide safe drinking water to communities we serve. Our NGO partners aim to do the same. We do our tests, share the results with user communities, and so on. But which third-party verification process is there to tell the users that the water they are getting is really, really safe? Currently, the independent third-party mechanism is not there or is not strong! I need not spell out what this means for the rise of water-borne diseases.
  • Lack of attention to WASH issues in human development discourse. Health, education and livelihood are big-ticket items. They get the meat and the juices of development funds. Who’s to worry about water and sanitation? Not many, at least in Nepal. Little wonder, then, that while Nepal has done well on most other MDG goals (i.e. on measures of health and education)  it lags far behind in meeting the sanitation goal.

What are your three burning issues in WASH in Nepal?

Written by Ashutosh Tiwari, Country Representative, WaterAid in Nepal

October 11, 2010

Global Sanitation Fund launched in Nepal

Filed under: Advocacy,Sanitation — Tags: , , — Anita Pradhan @ 11:15 am

KATHMANDU: The government in coordination with Global Sanitation Fund today launched National Sanitation Programme to improve the country’s sanitation sector. Nepal is the third country after Madagascar and Senegal to launch the GSF programme with funds from Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works and UN-HABITAT said in a press statement. GSF has pledged financial assistance of $50 million, which will be used for drafting and implementing effective sanitation plans. The fund will also be used for meeting Millennium Development Goal’s sanitation targets.


July 6, 2010

Diarrhoea’s possible link with lower cognitive ability

Filed under: Sanitation — Tags: , , — Anita Pradhan @ 12:27 pm

“[i]t is the various bugs that cause diarrhoea which are the biggest threat. Diarrhoea strikes children hard. It accounts for a sixth of infant deaths, and even in those it does not kill it prevents the absorption of food at a time when the brain is growing and developing rapidly.”

Diarrhoea (and other diseases), therefore, tend to lead to lower levels of cognitive development in young children. And diarrhoea is one preventable disease in Nepal.

Read the whole article in The Economist.

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