In Nepal, it is women who carry the main responsibility for fetching water and providing their households with its ever-lasting supply. That’s why in Bangba we are met by a community group represented solely by women. Sitting around a table at the local tea shop, they talk about numerous challenges they had to encounter to secure water for years, before Caritas Nepal installed a supply system in their village.
Stepping over a rocky road and carrying a heavy load of water from the nearby river – Bangba’s only water source – had never been easy. But the earthquake of 2015 made the task even more arduous, as the natural river flow got severely affected. “After the earthquake, the river would completely dry out every now and then,” recall our interviewees. “Sometimes we had to wait for hours for the water to come back. Some days we suffered from serious shortages too.” The village had also reported numerous causes of diarrhoea and infections due to the consumption of non-purified river water.
Taking an initiative to put an end to the water problem, at the end of 2018 the village formed a respective users’ committee and, through the local ward office, requested support from Caritas. Four months later, the construction works commenced. The people of Bangba contributed a great deal with their voluntary work to swiftly finalise the project.
83 households can now enjoy access to 13 water taps installed around the village, with the usage times and rules democratically established by the community. The water is turned on for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening throughout the dry season, and twice as much during the monsoon, in line with the primary source’s levels. As Nepal still struggles with water management, such regulations are necessary to protect and save the resources
“We do not have to carry water from the source now and save even an hour per day!” the women exclaim enthusiastically. Laundry has also become much easier, as there is no need to carry bulks of clothes to the river. The extra time gets dedicated to the household chores, but even these take less, as water is not only available in the immediate proximity of each and every house, but also in bigger quantities. Despite the savings and careful resources management, it now suffices for much more than just fulfilling the households’ most pending needs: “We can now use it for kitchen and our gardens and produce our own tarkari, vegetable; before we had to buy it from the market. Our goats and buffalos can drink from it too.”
Sunkaji Tamang, a leader of the users’ committee, says: “We are very happy to have the water. But maybe even more importantly, this project has allowed our community to truly unite for the common good for the first time in history.”