Access to clean water and sanitation services is a basic necessity for a dignified life. It is also something that many of us take for granted. Yet in the Far West region of Nepal, people lack such basic access. The Rural Village Water Resources Management Project aims to make clean water and sanitation services more readily available to people living in remote communities. It is a joint collaboration between Finland and the EU, working together under the Team Europe banner, and the Government of Nepal.
The project was launched in the Sudurpashchim and Karnali provinces of Nepal in 2006. Its third phase, which began in 2016 and ran until 2022, was designed to improve water supply, sanitation services and livelihoods in ten districts in Nepal. It has delivered drinking water supply for 635 222 people, home garden management for 497 000 homes and irrigation systems for 122 800 Nepalese people. Support was directed towards the most vulnerable, with a special focus on the needs of women, children and people with a disability.
Janaki Dhami and 17-year-old Aachal Upadhyayo are among the girls and women who benefited from the project. They live in the village of Chawara Chautara in Far West Nepal, which now gets water through pipes from mountain sources some ten or so kilometres away. As Janaki explains, “Before we had no water, but now it is easy to fetch water from the yard. The tap makes it easy to fill our water bowls. Washing, too, is much easier now.”
Indeed, the benefits for all village residents are many and varied. For instance, they can use water to grow and irrigate their home gardens. Pabitra Saru, who now has a water tap near her house in the village of Dola, can devote the time she saves from going to fetch water to other useful things like gardening. Also, farmers can sell their produce to earn extra income. And on a more general level, access to water is vital in making food safer and raising nutrition levels.
The project built hand-washing points and toilets in schools, too. Building toilets ensures that girls can go to school even when they have their periods. Girls like 11th-grade student Bimala Madai, who goes to Durga Higher Secondary School in Dola, which now has new toilets and water taps for hand-washing. The project also seeks to explain to people why the harmful practice of sending women and girls to menstruation huts should stop.
Finally, the project focuses on the development of planned use of water. The aim here is for municipalities and village communities to build and maintain their water services independently once the project is complete.
In all, the project benefited more than 2 million Nepalese people.