“Having worked to maintain the community tap in my village for many years, I feel blessed to receive free water service in front of my house,” said Nir bahadur Majhi, 69, an elderly person from Dhading. Working as a village maintenance worker (VMW) in earlier times, Nir Bahadur was always active in ensuring the community tap functioned well.
Living with his wife Sumitra Majhi, Nir Bahadur lost his vision and a hand while fishing in Trishuli river due to explosives bursting right in front of him. This led him to stay at home, discontinuing his motion. “I was involved in cleaning the tap area, removing the water blockage and fixing the pipelines,” remembers Nir Bahadur with heavy heart. However, recognizing his hard work and identifying him as a vulnerable community member, his fellow community people are supporting him with free water supply to his home.
Purnima’s recovery and reconstruction of drinking water supply schemes is helping people meet the immediate needs for drinking, house reconstruction, re-instating the earthquake damaged systems and for long term domestic use to reduce water fetching time of women.
VMWs are appointment by Water User Committee. As a key role for any community with water supply schemes, they ensure smooth supply of water to each household. They receive five-day training that gives them detail information and ideas about masonry work on joining pipeline, installation of fittings on tap stands, water-meter installation, operation, and minor maintenance of the pump and electric system for lifting water, meter reading and recording, amongst others. The roles further range from periodically visiting various structures of the water system, for water source to the tap stands for ensuring full functioning, and free form contamination.
The scheme has digital system in which pumping is automated through censor. User Committees are also fully utilizing digital platform to ensure VMWs do not have to walk miles to check the status of water in the reservoir tank. They receive SMS text about the status of water in the tank, when they need to supply water to taps, for checking the quality of water, etc. They are now habitual of monitoring and controlling the pumping system digitally.
Bhoj Bahadur Magar, 57, currently holds the responsibilities of VMW of Water User and Sanitation Committee under Parewatar Drinking Water Supply System in Siddhalekh in Dhading. He has been taking up this duty since last one year since the water reached 120 households of Siddhalekh rural municipality.
Three community people received Village Maintenance worker training for capacity enhancement and alternative human source. However, Bhoj is currently taking up the job actively and passionately. “I hold the responsibility of motor starting, cleanliness of RVT and most importantly coordination with the user committees on different matters. I update all the information about water supply,” said Bhoj Bahadur.
Building water supply systems have supported in creating local jobs, amongst which is the village maintenance workers too. There are 35 drinking water supply systems in Dhading which is supplying water to 4,451 households. To ensure water reaches each household, 35 VMWs have been positioned to monitor the systems.
Through its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme, Purnima has already reached 110,000 community people with tap stands in each household yards. All of this, it is doing in partnership with Oxfam and CARE Consortium comprising of Save the Children and DanChurchAid.
Community people including both males and females are engaged in the activities of water supply schemes construction that is creating opportunities for skilled labours for income generation. People from the community are actively involved in the whole process and many of them have been getting livelihood sustenance support through the roles taken up as VMWs, and unskilled labour for excavation of transmission line trenches.
Text and photos by Sofila Vaidya