“No one in our community believed that one day water would be easily available in our village,” shared Sabitri Shrestha, ecstatically. She remembers how people in Pida, a community in Gajuri rural municipality in Dhading, hardly believed that they could access water in the yard of their houses.
Sabitri, 42, living with her family of five children, often sought support from her daughters who helped her fetch water to fulfill the requirement of her family. People, especially women had to walk two to three hours to fetch just a bucket of water. Community taps existed but barely fulfilled the household demands as water only came few hours a day. “We had to stand in a queue to fetch the water which was not always reliable,” said Sabitri.
Lack of water also forced people to sell their livestock. “I sold my buffalo and goats as I could not care for them without the availability of sufficient water,” said Sabitri. Most people were unable to keep livestock at their homes, something that is a significant part of the rural livelihoods.
“Water is survival, it is happiness and most importantly it is independence,” said Sabitri when asked what water meant to her. After Purnima intervened with water supply schemes, hopes have emerged amongst people.
Currently, she works as a member of the water user and sanitation committee of the Pida Drinking Water Supply Scheme which includes 13 active members like herself. Having worked in the scheme from construction through completion, she feels excited to see tap stands in each of her fellow community members’ houses.
Purnima as a post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction project has been able to not just build resilient water supply schemes, but also the resiliency of people themselves. Water sources that existed earlier dried out due to climate changes, raising the utmost importance of adaptability towards the impacts of climate change.
To support community people with adverse effects of dry water sources, Purnima specially focused on the selection of springs while constructing intakes for gravity-fed systems. Most of the selected spring are fractured springs which originate along a rock fracture that cuts across an aquifer forming a rock, discharging water over the constant period.
Besides, the wastewater from the taps has been utilized in kitchen gardening and overflow from the reservoir tanks has been channelized into the farmlands and collected into small pits to irrigate. It also helps in minimizing the surface runoff and increasing the infiltration rate.
All the sources have been protected through upstream bioengineering works with the construction of stone masonry, gabion structures, and plantations.
Thuli Kanchi, 48, now a vegetable entrepreneur in Pida, shares how water is so significant to her and her surroundings. “Water has brought greenery in our deserted community. We now grow vegetables in our backyard, which earlier seemed unthinkable,” said Thuli Kanchi.
There is plenty of water to use for household chores like washing, cooking, maintaining cleanliness, and hygiene, amongst others. However, people are ensuring the right use of wastewater in the kitchen garden, yielding local produce for enhancing nutritious consumption as well as marketing surpluses. “All households in our community have a kitchen garden. Some of us have been able to expand it as an income generation activity too,” said Thuli Kanchi. It is supporting in restoring the ecosystem of the area too.
She practices drip irrigation as a climate smart technology for production, something she learned from the Purnima programme.
Like Sabitri and Thuli Kanchi, 34,459 community people in Pida have been benefitting from access to water at their doorsteps through the construction of 49 climate resilient water supply schemes. Altogether, 5,819 tap stands have been constructed.
Through its WASH sustainability programme, Purnima has been able to reach 117,259 community people through the construction of 216 climate resilient schemes in collaboration with Oxfam and CARE Consortium (Save the Children and DanChurchAid) supporting people with direct access to safe water in Dhading, Nuwakot, Gorkha, and Rasuwa districts of Nepal.
Text: Sofila Vaidya, Shirish Adhikari and Guna Raj Shrestha
Photos: Sofila Vaidya