Monday, July 30, 2012

Newspaper article published in national English Daily Newspaper THE RISING NEPAL on 4th May 2012

Novel approaches for water management

The current water demand in Kathmandu valley has been estimated to be 320 MLD (recent estimation 350 MLD, unpublished). The existing capacity of KUKL, the current water supply in the wet season (Jun/July to Jan/Feb) is only about 105.17 MLD which during dry season (Feb/March to May/June) further reduces down to 75.72 MLD, making the average water supply 95.36 MLD (KUKL, 2009/10 Third Anniversary). While current water services in the urban areas continue to underperform, the peri-urban VDCs have spearheaded towards community initiations innovating ways to facing intractable problems of water management. The water management in these peri-urban areas have revamped through community determination. One particularly interesting case relates to Godawari VDC where water supply services handled by Godawari Drinking Water and Sanitation Users Committee initiated in 1994 A.D. With the registration of two natural spring sources, this distributing water to over 390 households. This organization has been functioning as an independent local organization, mobilizing financial resources through contributions made by the water users for the infrastructure development and water tariff collected from among the users based on the volume of water consumed to ensure equitable share of water services. Similarly, Matatirtha VDC, well known for its water endowment has established eight different communities managed water supply schemes financially stabilized through community investments and governmental funds allocated for local development. Apart from these, the VDC has been collecting revenue from the neighboring Tinthana and Naikap VDCs in exchange of the water service provided, significant part of which has been invested in supporting these community managed schemes. This hilly VDC has been supplying water from three spring sources lying in the low lands through lifting- storage and distributing for certain hours on a daily basis. While the majorities of the existing community managed schemes in the VDC have been operating through household based private water networks, Dharapani Drinking Water Scheme in this VDC has continued to serve the community through public stand post focusing the households unable to afford the private water connections. Considering the growing water demand, this has added deep tube well to expand its water services through ground water extraction.

Changunarayan, Jhaukhel and Duwakot VDCs in Bhaktapur district have been working synergistically to overcome the challenges of water sector. Initiated in 1982, Changunarayan-Jhaukhel-Duwakot water supply started functioning in 1993 through public tap connections and extended its service to household metered tap connection since 1994 onwards. The water services started with 75 household level taps has now expanded to cover approximately 1000 households and approximately 300 to 400 additional tap connections are in the process of getting approved. Construction of an additional sump well in the well field of Manohara River has been completed with the aim of expanding the water services.

Dadhikot VDC in the same district has five drinking water schemes currently in operation, of which the largest scheme is Dadhikot-Uttisghari Community Water Supply and Sanitation Scheme serving 1400 households. The construction of piped drinking water scheme in the VDC started only after 1984. Though these schemes received external assistance of some form in the initial construction and development, there have been also substantial community investments in their construction. Dadhikot, being easily accessible and located close to Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, continues to be the preferred destination for new settlers. Increase in the population and rapid pace of urbanization led to search for alternative source of water and there has been significant increase in the number of schemes developed in the VDC after 1995. In order to keep pace with the growing demand of water, construction of a deep tube well was carried out in 2008 at a cost of NRs. 17,600,000. The construction of an additional 200 m3 water reservoir has been completed and currently local communities have been outsourcing to undertake watershed conservation program for the sustainable management of drinking as well irrigational water requirements.

Lubhu is a traditional Newar settlement. While the traditional water structures playing pivotal role in water arrangement are on the verge of extinction, the VDC in its own does not hold any reliable water source to revitalize these systems. The intractable challenge forward was to obtain water from neighboring VDC and equitably distribute in view of rapid population growth and simultaneously growing water demands. The people in the VDC managed to divert water supply from Chapakharka spring located in Bisankhu Narayan VDC. The Chapakharka spring source has been in use since 1981and supplies water to five VDCs- Lamatar, Sirutar, Bisankhu Narayan, Tikathali and Lubhu. Water from this spring is supplied through public stand and monitored by Users' Sub- Committee. To meet the deficit water needs, the VDC has developed another water supply system with water tapped from Dovan River. At present, total of 52 public taps have been installed, each serving approximately 100 households. The quality of this water is poor and the user committee has been exploring the possible financial assistance for developing a filtration tank and water treatment facility at Dhovan River so that quality of water supply from this source could be improved.

From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that while the state crafted initiatives have floundered, several community led innovations, both technical and institutional have emerged. In the light these findings, appears the essence of exploring efficient and flexible innovations for community participation in urban water management.

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