WATER & SANITATION: Challenges Ahead

Although Nepal has made a steady progress in the water and sanitation sector, a long way is there to ensure universal coverage

Dec. 13, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -12 Dec. 13- 2013 (Mangsir 28, 2070)

Be it Baglung, Tanahu or Mustang, many districts have been making efforts to declare themselves as Open Defecation Free (ODF) areas. With support from national and international governments, Nepal has been successfully carrying the ODF campaign throughout the country.

However, the question remains: how can it be sustained? Is just declaring ODF enough or is there the need of back-up programs as well? In many villages, the people have resumed their habit of open defecation. Due to the lack of public toilets, the people in the highways are compelled to go for ODF.

Although Nepal has almost achieved many goals of MDGs, it is still behind the goals of sanitation and water. Many international non-governmental organizations have also been supporting the water and sanitation sector of Nepal in line with the MDGs.

Nepal's experiences have shown that the supply of drinking water with the sanitation facilities can make a lot of difference in rural health. Proper sanitation facilities reduce the incidents related to diarrhea drastically in Nepal. Studies have shown that Nepal can save over 8,000 deaths caused by water borne diseases.

"Our ministry is planning to launch backup programs in the districts which were declared the ODF. Similarly, we are also working to increase the number of public toilets in various districts which were declared ODF," said Kishore Thapa, secretary at the Ministry of Urban Development. “After successfully holding SACOSAN V, the government will come out with a focused program on sanitation."

Along with the government, INGOs and NGOs working in Nepal have been playing important role in this complex and difficult but important task to provide drinking water and sanitation. 

"On broader level, what the I/NGOs -despite the undeservedly easy ridicule they face in some quarters in Nepal - do best is this: raise widespread awareness about the importance of social inclusion of all forms in all our activities, educate people about their rights, educate and make people aware against acts of discrimination, empower the hitherto voiceless and marginalized people by teaching them how to access the legally provided instruments and the resources of the state, and so on," said Ashutosh Tiwari, country director of WaterAid Nepal and chairperson of Association of International Non-governmental organizations.

Over the last two decades, WaterAid Nepal has been working with various NGOs in Nepal to increase the coverage of drinking water and sanitation in rural parts of Nepal.  It is focusing its attention on socially marginalized and poor people of Nepal.

As in other parts of Nepal, WaterAid Nepal has been supporting Nepal-Water-for-Health (Newah)-built tap in Sindhuli district to provide drinking water to the poor and marginalized communities.  The taps constructed in Sindhuli district serve the people with their morning, afternoon and evening safe water needs.

At a time when questions are being raised about the role of the International NGOs, WaterAid Nepal's support given to the community is an example of how important they are. "Through their various works, I/NGOs do their best to ensure that everyone -- the disabled, the vulnerable, the social outcast, the marginalized, and the poor -- in Nepal get to be fully, actively participating member of our various societies," writes Tiwari.

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