Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peer Group Interaction

Exposure Visit to Water Treatment Plant of Dhulikhel Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Committee, Dhulilkhel 
(December 17, 2011)

A day long exhibition to Water Treatment Plant at Dhulikhel was conducted to expose the people to the necessary arrangements, technical expertise and the management approaches to strengthen the community based water management initiative led by the Lubhu Drinking Water and Sanitation Committee of Lubhu. The members from Committee enthusiastically participated in the programme since the programme was demanded and scheduled by themselves. The facilitator was the Chief Executive officer of the Dhulikhel Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Committee (DWSSC) Mr. Rameshwor Parajuli.

Dhulikhel DWSSC was established as a joint venture of Nepal Government, the Federal Republic of Germany and local people of Dhulikhel on December 5, 1997. It has been diverting water from spring source of Khar Khola River, about 14 kms far away in the Kalanti Bhumi Danda VDC. The water from the spring source has been diverted through the intake into the reservation tank from where it has been further passed for the treatments (primary, secondary and ultimately for chlorination prior to the distribution through pipe lines. This Dhulikhel water supply service can be considered as an example not only in terms of the technical arrangements but also in terms of establishment of institutional set up for its sustainability. Despite financial security from a joint venture, its institutional growth has involved various ups and downs, the understandings and unity has succeeded in overcoming the challenges to gain the current image of success story. This phase has included various incidents that have been a lesson learning phase for the people of Dhulikhel. These were briefly shared to the participants from Lubhu to enhance their management skills. 

The installation of filtration tank for water diverted from Dovan khola has been considered as the only practical long term solution for water woes at Lubhu. The case of Dhulikhel Water Supply is similar to the project envisioned by Lubhu therefore has been expected to be fruitful to them. The major objective of the visit was to expose the people of Lubhu to water treatment plant, improve their understanding on the basics behind the system and stimulate their activities to replicate such a system with necessary modifications. 

The facilitator from the Dhulikhel DWSSC provided the consultation in two different thematic sections, one being in the technical arrangements and the second on the institutional and administrative arrangements. The major point highlighted by the facilitator was the need of preplanning of the management set ups, both the technical and the administrative section prior to the actual operation of the project and team work for the successful continuation of project.

The technical designing in Dhilikhel scheme was supported by international expert teams in addition to local effort including German Aid and Japanese expertise. The knowledge gained during the operation of the technical part and the problems that appeared and approaches made for solution were shared with the participants to enable them to avoid repeating mistakes of Dhulikhel schemes and escape the avoidable loss. This one day visit was obviously not enough to get into all the technical details but as expected has generated the enthusiasm and interest in working towards their project which could be interpreted through the local interest in exploring for donors and funding organizations for possible supports. This visit has further been fruitful in building rapport between the two parties for the further consultations. The technicians of the Local water resource committee will be revisiting the sites for further consultation in near future. 

The intangible arrangement for the institutional set up can be considered no less complicated. However, after the resolution of the water induced conflict few years back, Dhulikhel DWSSC has been currently functioned through 15 member committee. The committee members have been elected by the consumers on the "One tap one Vote" basis where each of the consumer household cast one Vote per household and are functional for consecutive 4 years. Among the members elected, 9 members have to be from the core settlement which was the initial target group of the project, 5 members from the recently expanding settlements and one technician who has been officially engaged on a full time service basis. The water service has been following a graded tariff system (minimum charge is Rs. 125/-per month, 10-25 units cost Rs. 14 /- per unit, 26 – 50 units cost Rs 22/- per unit and >50 units cost Rs 57/- per unit; 1 unit=1000 litres of water). Mr. Parajulee stressed on the value of water as an economic goods and the need of charging water to avoid the water wastage wherein he emphasized the need of graded tariff to maintain the equity on the service provided and currently has reached 1752 households and has further 21 community taps.

He further stressed on the need of strict monitoring of the tariff to overcome the free riding of water service, a customarily acknowledged problem in water supply. As that suggested during Godawari site visit, Mr. Parajulee criticized the practice of public taps as a cause of water wastage and suggested in the direction of replacing the public and community taps through private taps. Additionally he shared the pathway for the mentioned replacement by creating a provision of making payment of the household water network extension in installment basis as a support for underprivileged households.

As the Lubhu inhabitants are in the process of entering into a new phase of water management, Mr. Parajulee suggested to set up a properly planned and monitored code of conduct from the initial phase to make it well established in the long run and further shade light on the need of renovating the technical structures on a timely basis for its effective durability. The participants from Lubhu showed greater inclination towards estimating the cost approximate involved thereby understanding their status in financial arrangements, addressing which the resource person, Mr. Parajulee showed interest in providing technical help in understanding the cost involved further suggesting to adopt cost efficient and more effective innovative techniques. He also elaborated the need of understanding the site specific geology and the environmental conditions giving the examples of modifications in the engineering designs performed by various community based drinking water schemes operating in different areas of the nation and suggested to understand the conditions of Lubhu and generously offered help in case of any need of revisiting the designs which has been complete by the technical team of Lubhu. These experiences shared have been counted valuable guidance by the participants and a copy of annual report of Dhulikhel Water Supply with details about the water supply provided to each of the participants which has been expected to provide further information about the project.

With the opportunity of observing different processes of the water treatment plant, getting to interact with the veteran technician of Dhulikhel water supply and with assurance of providing the possible technical help for the most prioritized problem of Lubhu, the participants considered the visit highly productive.

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