Friday, July 15, 2011

Interaction Workshop

Nepal Engineering College, peri-urban water Security research project organized its last programme of the year with an interaction workshop in National Administrative Staff College, Jawalakhel on June 30, 2011. The interaction Workshop was designed specifically to share the research progress made till date with the local people thereby understanding the views of local stakeholders and simultaneously collecting their suggestions. The workshop provided a platform to further enhance coordination and collaboration among stakeholders, local government and community members from all the four selected research sites.
The workshop was attended by 20 participants from four sites including the VDC Secretary of the respective sites. After registration and breakfast, a full day workshop commenced with Prof. Shukla reflecting about the water resources of Nepal and changing status in water management strategies, practices and water rights with contextual examples from Kathmandu, Chennai and Delhi in India, Khulna in Bangladesh and his own experiences. He also took the participants through serious concerns on increasing population density and haphazard urbanization resulting pressure on the natural resources mostly land and water. Adding to the spark of the session, Prof. Shukla moved on to introduction round where individuals provided their introduction along with the connotation of the word making the day long interaction lively. 
The program was scheduled into three sessions. The first half of the workshop involved:
       I.            Dissemination of research findings from Nepal Engineering College
    II.            Knowledge and experience sharing from experts. 
The structure of the second half of workshop centered upon interactive group work. These activities were followed by a plenary session, in which site wise representatives presented their views and water concerns of the respective areas. This enabled the research team to learn more about the kind of work and focus of projects currently being carried out in Kathmandu.

Session I
       I.            Dissemination of research findings from Nepal Engineering College
This session included presentations from Mr. Rajesh Sada, Research co-ordinator where he discussed his study on "Processes and Consequences of Degradation of Urban River: Religious, Cultural and Livelihood Impacts". Sharing the perception of people on the increasing degradation of Hanumante river and its causes, changing uses of river water and impacts of water use on health, agriculture, religious activities and overall livelihood, he clearly emphasized the inalienable relationship of Hanumante river with the civilization of Bhaktapur district and its overall economic development. He also pointed out the river transformation into an easy sewerage has increasingly generated serious concerns among local people but still is unable to provoke the responsible authorities from the Municipality to act on it, rather are themselves among the ones to pollute it.
Commenting on the findings, Prof. Shukla suggested for self-brainstorm, whether polluting river in the context of changing livelihood is a need or compulsion.
Adding to Mr. Sada's points, Miss. Rabi Wenju also shared her study where she particularly emphasized how solid waste dumping along the river banks has resulted into river encroachment, its impacts on the livelihood of the river bank settlers and the increasing frequency of flash flood washing away not only the piled solid waste but also river incision resulting into catastrophic livelihood impacts.
The second presentation was by Mr. Ujwal Bhattarai, from nec-CPS, student of Interdisciplinary Water Resources Management, on "Household Drinking Water Handling Behaviour and its Microbial Contamination Possibilities" where he focused the diversity of role of water as synonym to life and how with careless household water handling behaviour can take away several lives. Based on his study in Dharan Municipality, Mr. Bhattarai highlighted the linkage of household water management from source to mouth and recommended some simple but essential and applicable ways of household water safety plans and behaviors to avoid the microbial water contamination and thereby preventing water borne diseases and the tragic losses.
This was followed by presentation from Mr. Dibesh Shrestha on Private tanker operation and market coverage in Kathmandu Valley. Through his thorough study, Mr. Shrestha pointed out the commercial water extraction points across Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts, its major consumers, supply processes and means and how the private water market has been growing as a result of growing gap in the water demand (320 MLD) and KUKL water supply (105 MLD in wet season to 75 MLD in dry season). Among several exclusive findings, he estimated that the economy behind commercial water market is 5.4 times bigger than that of KUKL, the main water supply authority for Kathmanduties.  
Among several impacts of unplanned rapid urbanization, growing slum areas is a growing problem. Mrs. Mela Aryal from ISET illustrated the water management practices among the squatters in the growing slum areas in Kathmandu valley and the ignorance of sanitation and personal hygiene and relationship with their livelihood based on her own study at Pragati Nagar, Manahara squatter in Bhaktapur.
Concluding first session, Prof. Shukla drew five water security issues linking to the discussions from the accomplished session.
1.      Quantity of Water Available; gap in demand and supply
2.      Equity in Water Distribution and water access
3.      Water quality concerns and source conservation
4.      Organizational water management and responsibility of local government
5.      Urbanization, Increasing water demands and commercialization of water 
Emphasizing the challenges and limitations of the local government in peri-urban areas to come forward with proactive environment management schemes as displacement of polluting industries from urban core to peri-urban areas, absence of clearance procedures for construction of new houses in VDCs leading to haphazard urbanization, rampant extraction of natural resources in these areas but limited power of the local authority to regulate, Prof. Shukla requested the stakeholders involved in the workshop to  provide feedback in relation to the progression of the project and suggestions for further points of consideration.
During the short discussion session on the completed presentations, Mr. Kiran, a participant from Jhaukhel, shared his observation and views of increasing population density and changing land use pattern as main culprit of natural resource degradation and emphasized that the tax collected by the Government Administrative authority should also be invested in protection of these resources and also expressed his serious concern on the rampant sand and ground water extraction in the concerned. His further query was to Mr. Ujwal about usability of water collected days before in areas with no regular daily basis of water supply.  Mr.Ujwal suggested on giving more preference to fresh water is better and clarified the main aim is to avoid water contamination therefore recommended to undertake water treatment prior to consumption.
In response to Prof. Shukla's point on “Water Pollution Today's Need or Compulsion", a participant from Lubhu shared the state of being no option for sewage release making it compulsory to ultimately release domestic sewage into available water bodies. As per him, the causes of increasing pollution of water bodies are weak administrative policies and regulations and lack of public awareness. He recommended the nec- research team to include public awareness campaigns along with the research study for effective outcomes of water security.
Mr. Indra Baral representing Matatirtha VDC shared his opinions on the significant role of water for Health and emphasized on the need of optimal use of water and applying the knowledge gained in the daily practices for successful benefit of the public awareness programmes. Pointing out the political stagnancy as a major constraint to the development and conservation activities, he also exchanged his views on the need of political willpower to solve the existing situation of unaccountability.

Session II
Knowledge and Experiences Sharing from Experts
In this session Mr. Anil Pokhrel from ADB presented "Water, Land and Food Security and Where are We?" Appreciating nec for conducting the collaborative environment where different groups of stakeholders communicate with researchers on climate information to implement research into local adaptation planning. He also emphasized how the interaction provided the opportunity for researchers to discuss recent findings and to identify significant gaps in knowledge. He reminded the fundamental message that emerged during the first agriculture conference in 1958 A.D (2015 B.S) and took the participants to understand how the situation is getting more terrible than predicted with changing climate, urbanization, growing food prices and distress migration. In his presentation, he introduced the participants to the existing and emerging climate change issues and associated problems, and laid out the potential approach for seeking sustainable solutions to the problems. Driven from data-based findings on climate uncertainty from Jhikhu River in Panchkhal, this presentation dealt with the trends of climate change with particular emphasis on water resources and the apparent impacts of changing climate in terms of increasing floods, droughts and their impacts on food, health and overall livelihood.
Post lunch, the session continued with presentation from Mrs. Mela Aryal Lama who gave the glimpse of key terminologies associated with climate change and a brief explanation on Green House Effect. She also discussed on the Gateway system adopted by ISET and elaborated works of ISET-Nepal on climate change. Introducing the various types of adaptation strategies, she explained adaptation is much more than coping with and surviving disasters. It involves at least the ability to maintain and preferably to improve quality of life, wellbeing and environmental sustainability. Following her was Ms. Rabi Wenju, where she incorporated shared learning dialogue and other methodologies applied by ISET-Nepal for its IDRC supported ongoing research on climate change and adaptation along Gandak transect, extending from Kapilvastu to Mustang.
Field knowledge from the research was shared by Mr. Madav Devkota where he highlighted the diversity in vulnerability from Kagbeni in Mustang, Ramche in Myagdi, Hansapur in Argakhachi and Dubiya in Kapilvastu. He highlighted the example of Madan Pokhara VDC as self-capable VDC and its adaptation strategy through rain water harvesting for both domestic and irrigation use.
Concluding the session Mr. Ajay Dixit briefed on the presentation of the former three presenters from ISET-Nepal linking their relevancy to the peri-urban context. He also described the need of Peri-urban Water Security Project that nec is launching currently on four peri-urban sites of Kathmandu valley to understand the dynamics of water security in the sites and to be able to well adapt the forthcoming precarious situation due to rampant urbanization and further accelerated by climate change.
To the query of a participant on the efforts made from national level on addressing climate change preparation, he briefly discussed on the ongoing activities like preparation of National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), Local Adaptation Programme of Action (LAPA) and Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) policy and criticized the lack of national level homeworks for presenting the climate change impacts in Nepal to the international arena and pressurize the developed countries under the climate change related protocols. Mr. Rajesh Sada briefly informed about the carbon trading mechanisms existing at the international level, furthering explained the application of only CDM- Clean Development Mechanism in Nepal.
At the end of the session, Prof. Shukla elaborated on the inter-relation of climatic anomalies in different countries and how the effects are visible in our macro and micro level resulting into negating impacts on the fundamental needs of life, growing water and food insecurity.

Session III: Plenary Session
 The final open floor session was led by Prof. Shukla with the purpose of consolidating the views and feedback that from the stakeholders over the water issues in the sites under the five key topics:
1)      Availability of water
2)      Change in quantity and quality of water and its causes
3)      Local water concerns/ issues
4)      The way forwards

It was agreed that the concept of presenting the views by a representative from each of the four VDC and the other participants contributing to the first speakers on supplementing the missing points.  
The views and issues shared by the participants during the interaction workshop are summarized below:
Site 1: Jhaukhel
First speaker from Jhaukhel VDC was Mr. Jayram Thapa where he shared on the existing water management schemes in the VDC which brought forward over forty years old Jhaukhel-Changu- Duwakot water supply scheme as the major water supplier for the three VDC and sump well in Manahara river bank is the water source for the mentioned scheme. This scheme over declining water level in the source, as the system functions based on water lifting system is also effected by hours long power cut off. The declining water level is increasingly being the major concern as the demand for water is increasing regularly. Regarding the change in water supply, it has declined from 2 hours every morning and evening a day to irregularity to supply once in every three days. In contrast to the declining water level in the source, water demand is increasing to reach 1100 taps in three VDCs.
After his 16 years long involvement in Water user committee, he expressed his dissatisfaction towards delinquency among the responsible authorities and stressed the growing self-centered attitude among people as the reason behind growing rampant water and sand mining in the VDC. He shared his bitter experiences of VDC despite being local government as per local Self Government Act, 1999, with no support from the CDO and DDC has been not able to take any strict against the illegal sand and water extraction growing in the VDC. He stressed on the need of public awareness activities for proactive public participation in pressurizing the concerned authorities to bring the illegal natural resource extraction in the VDC under regulation and thus requested nec- research team to conduct the interaction workshops at local level in the VDC.
The other participants, Jaganath Neupane from Jhaukhel, expressed his views on the Melamchi Observation well in Duwakot Ward no. 4, where deep boring has been done under Melamchi project but not in use. He further added that they had even gone for delegation to the Melamchi authority for water supply but was denied initially and further processed it for pressurization through signature collection.
While the majorities of VDC residents are struggling for water management, the water market in the VDC is growing in ward 7 and 8. The participants also considered the need of using water from Mahadev khola, which currently is wasted. Regarding future adaptation strategy for water security, they unanimously presented the need of going into boring and distributing water through large reservoirs.

Site2: Dadhikot
In Dadhikot, drinking water supply has been successfully implemented through local initiatives and the participants were satisfied with water management in their VDC. Old Uttisghari,  Uttigghari Dadhikot, Syangtyang dhara and Mandhara are the major community water supply schemes in the VDC. Mahadev khola is the source of irrigation for the VDC. With increasing water demand, the VDC has started supplying water through combined use of surface water and ground water and has been working for adding a deep boring for community water supply while at the household level dug wells are also increasing in the VDC.
The participants in the VDC showed their concern about the lack of understanding about legal provision for water resource conservation and lack of access of local authority to such initiation. Having common water source with neighboring Balkot, Katunje and Gundu VDCs, the participants representing Dadhikot VDC also showed interest on understanding about the sharing of the water bodies existing at the VDC boundary. Like Jhaukhel VDC, the participants also requested for the interaction workshop at the VDC level to generate awareness among the community towards optimal water utilization, safe water handling and sanitation.
With proactive community for water management, Dadhikot has achieved success in water management. Appreciating Dadhikot's effort and successful implementation of graded tariff system, Prof. Shukla suggested Mr. Rajesh Sada, to arrange for an exploration field visit to Dadhikot, for the rest three VDCs. To this suggestion the participants invited for a day long field visit to their VDC for sharing knowledge and experience.

Site 3: Lubhu
Lubhu VDC is the driest of four VDCs. Participants from Lubhu recalled the arrangements made for drinking water supply in the VDC from Chapakharka in neighboring VDC back in 1979 (2036 B.S). With growing water demand and drying water source, water scarcity is still the main concern for Lubhu residents. Adding to their water owes, the changing value of water as social good to a commercial commodity, water from the neighboring VDC is increasing being less reliable. Irrigation in the VDC is entirely rainfed.  Dovan khola, the only reliable water source in the VDC is water source for quenching thirst of ward 4 and some parts of ward 2, 3 and 5. With no private taps, public taps based water supply in this VDC is regularly obstructed with landslides damaging water distribution pipes. Moreover, with piped water distribution system arranged over twenty years back, leakage of water and unaccountable loss is not less severe for this VDC. With clay as geological composition, digging private wells cannot be useful solution for the Lubhu residents. The participants also shared the lack of awareness and still existing caste discrimination as one of the cause of water pollution in the VDC. Addressing the query of Mr. Sada regarding their adaptation strategy during landslide at Chapakharka disrupting water supply, for them, they shared the only option left becomes to purchase water for household purpose. Expressing their helpless condition, one of the participants from Lubhu VDC said" We have planned for boring as ultimate option but we have not been able to move forward to performing it and nor do we have knowledge for any better alternatives."
Prof. Shukla suggested to practice rainwater harvesting as an alternative and as the training provided recently on RWH had overwhelming participation, he expressed his hope of the training to be useful in solving their water struggles.

Site 4: Matatirtha
Matatirtha is water rich VDC. Mr. Indra Baral, a participant clarified the common misunderstanding of the religious Matatirtha Shrine being located in Matatirtha VDC and further explained it to be located in the neighboring Mahadevsthan VDC. He shared that wards 4, 5, and 7 within the VDC are water rich. The major water sources, springs in the VDC lie in the lower lands while the traditional settlements are in the uphill. In one hand, wastage of surplus water and commercial water use is common in the water rich wards while in the wards lying uphill, managing water for daily use is not simple.
 Collaborative attempts have been made from community and local government initiatives for water management through lifting up of water into reservoir tanks (a total of 7 tanks are present in the VDC). After the land acquisition of Ward no.2 by Armed Police Force Academy, it started deep boring in its premises, after which deep boring also started for community water supply. Unlike Lubhu, water source is not a constraint for this VDC, the need is its sustainable management. He further stated rather than drying of water source, changing of lifestyle and increasing water consumption is the major water problem in the VDC.
Mrs. Merina Shrestha, member of women organization in the VDC focused on the hardship of women in the uphill wards in managing daily water even to current days when people in the same VDC are being economically benefited through water. She shared the efforts being made from women groups in environment and water bodies conservation and preventing direct discharge of sewerage into rivers.
The participants agreed about increasing debate regarding the water market in the VDC and explained about the initiatives being put forward by the local government however with political lacunae, the regulatory mechanisms has not been functioning as per its potentialities. With neighboring VDCs depending on water sources of Matatirtha for fulfilling their water needs, the water sources within the VDC has often been encroached by the neighboring VDC. In addition to this, the growing population, urbanization and changing lifestyle has resulted into changing landuse and pollution of water sources, thus conservation of sources is prime need for water security in the VDC.
Moving towards the end of the programme, Prof. Shukla, acknowledged all the participants and the presenters on the behalf of nec and requested for continuous co-operation for further two years and assured to provide full co-operation for public awareness programmes at VDC level and friendly networking for knowledge sharing among the four sites. Stating the interaction workshop as the beginning for future workshop, he hoped for their participation in the future interaction programmes to be scheduled in every three month.
Overall the workshop was a positive experience and provided a solid background from which the research team can further develop the effectiveness of forthcoming programmes. The contribution of these local participants was highly valuable, and the nec- research team received useful and insightful feedback on their work so far. Specifically, the interaction workshop formed fundamental part of work package, an enthusiasm and willingness for exchanging knowledge and experience by engaging the stakeholders from the four sites, so their involvement at the workshop has been a key contribution to the project as whole.

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