Need for safe drinking water brings along inclusion
August 2010; Jaidhan settlement of Kuntibandali, one of the acute water diarrhoea affected villages among the 15 Village Development Committees of Achham'one of the remote districts of Nepal, now has access to clean drinking water.
Thanks to the Quick Impact for Peace Support Initiative (QIPSI) Programme, the villagers no longer have to stand in a queue to fetch drinking water from the two small open wells (kuwa). The unhygienic condition of wells brought many illnesses and deaths in the previous years.
The open wells were becoming a source of quarrel as well because often people had to wait for too long and this was the only existing water source for taking bath, washing clothes and fetching drinking water. The Dalits and non-Dalits used different wells as the Dalits were barred from touching the well of Non-dalits.
Today, there is no more dipping of dirty water jars into the well and less number of sick people in the village ! The enormous amount of time spent in the queue to fetch a jar of drinking water has been reduced with the arrangement of collecting water in a big water tank and distribution of water through taps. Especially, the women have been able to save some time with the availability of water taps nearby their houses.
The Jaidhan settlement consists of a total of 67 households, of which, 45 are Dalits and 22 non-Dalits. The settlement has a total population of 401(197 female and 204 male).
Looking at the dire need to improve the living conditions and to address the chronic issues of water borne diseases, the QIPSI under the UNDP supported Decentralized Local Governance Support Programme (DLGSP) initiated several rounds of meetings with the district authorities and the community. Finally, the concept materialized with the support from the Accham District Development Committee.
Through counseling provided by the programme, and in light of the hardship faced for several years, people were compelled to change their traditional views and practices. The water from both wells was diverted to 1000 litre tank. Two taps were constructed to reduce the waiting time and for speedy and easy access to water. A total of Rs. 1,19,456 was spent for the whole scheme and the community contributed labour worth Rs. 24,000. A Users Committee was formed under the chairmanship of a female member for the maintenance and proper use of the water.
Today, the caste discrimination no longer exists and everyone takes water from the same tap ! There is harmony in the village and less cases of diarrhoea reported. The District Development Committee (DDC) Accham is advocating this success as a 'best practice' to other DDCs also !
Progress on almost all the Millennium Development Goals will benefit from local governments more effectively delivering education, health and other services. The decentralization of Government is also a key factor for overcoming the resentments that local needs are often ignored in central Government plans and programmes; and for providing a peace dividend at the local level- something that the QIPSI project has already done.