It was a Tuesday morning in the middle of a rainy July. We crossed over a small river and drove along bumpy and slippery roads next to maize fields and green hills before reaching our destination. This small rural community in Nepal is a two-hour drive from Kathmandu. The villagers were waiting to greet us and proudly showed us their new water taps, which were only recently constructed.
About 20 percent of people in Nepal do not have easy access to clean water. Scarcity of water and the distance between homes and sources are the biggest problem for people in remote rural areas. This community had the same difficulties just a few months ago, but now that their new piped water system is operational, their lives have become much easier.
Plan International helped the community build 36 water sources in the village where around 600 people, including 200 children, live. Half of the population is female. All the sources are located in accessible areas, close to people’s homes, so it now takes no more than five minutes for each household to fetch water.
Before the new sources were installed, there was only one sources for the whole community. It often stopped working due to leaky pipelines and unmanaged water sources, which meant women had to spend many hours in line each day for water. Often they had to compete to fill their water containers and sometimes it would lead to disagreements. Even if they managed to get some water, it was not usually enough for washing clothes and cleaning utensils. It became especially difficult during the rainy season.
The secretary of the Water User Committee, Aaitya Maya Rumba, affirms, “The taps have really saved our time, which we can now spend taking care of our children.”
Children have also benefited from the new water system. A source built at the local school is used by 70 children. Having access to water has brought them enormous joy, as they previously had to spend the day thirsty and unable to have a drink until they went home. The height of each source has been calculated so that even a young child can use it easily whenever needed.
These changes were only made possible as the community took lead of the project themselves. After discussing their water problems during a community meeting, they formed the Water User Committee, which developed a plan to bring water to the villages.
The committee approached Plan with the idea. The organization agreed to provide them with financial and technical support. Six months later, the community is proud to have 24-hour running water on their doorsteps.
To maintain the water system, the community collects a small fee (less than half a dollar) each month from villagers to pay for repairs that need to be made to the source or pipes. In addition, the committee has recruited two caretakers to look after the water system and solve any problems as they arise. Each month the water committee meets to discuss, review, and plan any major work needed.
Before we said goodbye to the community, the water committee asked us to come back again sometime to see how well they are taking care of the water system. They assured us that they would be maintained and protected forever.