Water is essential for all of us, but even more so for farmers. In Nepal, most farmers still rely on rains for irrigation. With rainfall patterns changing as climate change is progressing, having access to reliable irrigation solutions is all the more important for Nepalese farmers.
Sindhupalchowk has been the second most affected district by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. It took the lives of 3429 people in this district and 4058 people were injured. The impact on livelihoods was also significant, with many irrigation systems affected. 87% of water supply schemes were damaged across the district. 97 irrigation schemes were partially or fully damaged, causing loss of livelihoods to farmers of 5803 hectares of land. Caritas Nepal has worked for over three years in four wards of Chautara-Sangachowk-Gadhi municipality and Indrawati rural municipality to help repair the water systems and livelihoods of the community.
So far, altogether 12 irrigation canals and one irrigation pond have been repaired and reconstructed under the project, leading to 10478 Ropani (1317 acres) new agricultural lands for 1054 households (approximately 5300 people). After the construction of irrigation systems, the community people are able to irrigate their agricultural fields all year round. For example, earlier, in Hyapla Khola irrigation canal was only used during the monsoon season, but now 30 households have started cultivating mustard and wheat in the winter season also.
Bansbote Nimote irrigation canal has turned the surrounding area into blooming maize fields. Previously the land was barren, but now the 350m long canal channels water from a river to the surrounding fields.
Kumar Khatri is pleased for the new irrigation source. He has recently sold 600kg of maize from these fields. 45 households are benefitting from the canal and they have also contributed about 10% of the construction price. Per person investment has been about 2600 rupees, which goes a long way to helping food security in this area.
Another new irrigation system is under construction in Jor Change. It will serve 36 households and 121 ropani (over 6 ha) of land, when finished.
This area is also prone to occasional drought. To alleviate the insufficiency of water, the project has guided community members to collect waste water and use it for kitchen gardens.
Suntali Purkuti in Jamnuney village has benefitted from use of drip irrigation. She is enthusiastic about her cucumber farm and would in fact like to enlarge it. She is looking for more land to grow it as she at the same time been learning commercial vegetable farming through the local farmers group. She tells that she has sold 22 kg cucumbers recently and in fact most of it already on the way to the market.
The project makes sure that infrastructure given to beneficiaries is sustainable. Suntali knows how to fix blockages in the drip irrigation system, and before the end of the project she will be still be linked directly with spare part suppliers.
Sim Khola Maleldaghari water scheme in Bhedabari village has been now in function for about two years. The community has full ownership of running it. Though the water user committee faced some challenges of collecting the water ser fees, three months ago the leadership of the committee was successfully changed. They are now again able to collect 50 rupees per month from the member households.
At the handover of the water scheme, Caritas gave a lump sum for maintenance costs of the scheme and the community matched it with equal amount 90% of this amount is still available for maintenance costs “, explains the committee chairman Purna Bahadur Karki. The future of the water scheme looks good and locals use it for drinking as well as improving their farms. The chairman himself is growing cucumbers and invites us to this cooling snack afterwards.