Action for the Thirsty Lands

The very existence of the entire world is ensured with the amount of water available. Every organism, whether a tiny insect or a blue whale and even plants, need water. Nepal, the second richest country in the world in water resources is still thirsty and dry as we are struggling to make the proper use of these vast resources available. After the destructive 2015 earthquake, the situation became worse as dwindling water resources took place. There are many districts that were directly affected by it and scarce the basic necessity.

Among the least developed districts, Sindhupalchowk, Ramechhap and Kavre are the places which are devoid of access to adequate water. Women leave their houses early in the morning and walk for 2 or 3 hours in stiff terain to fetch it from nearby rivers and brooks running from the mountains. They carry water in plastic bottles and stack them in a bamboo basket and again begin the journey to reach home. From the unhygienic environmental situation, there is always a high risk of stored water being contaminated.

They do not have access to basic sanitation and are extremely vulnerable to waterborne illness. From personal use to feeding water to cows and goats, they have no other choices but to use each drop properly. They have to rely on rain fed agriculture which only works out during the monsoon, and insufficient rainfall adds up to the existing problem which makes the whole village undergo a terrible drought. Living a healthy life without clean water is just an imagination for them. The scarcity of water is very acute in these areas because of poor economic condition and difficult landscape.

Upon being notified about these issues, Nepal Jesuit Social Institute took quickstep to conduct the preliminary survey in each area and concluded that the issue was to be dealt urgently. To abate such problem, NJSI team marched toward lifting the water from the nearby source to the villages. They already succeed in making 69 drinking water taps in Thumkadanda, Kavre along with a reservoir tank of 18000 liters. In Sirantol and Gahirotol of Helambu Rural Municipality, Gyalthum, Sindhupalchowk 15 taps have been built, ready to be handed over to the beneficiaries. In Chapadi, Ramechhap a reserve tank for drinking water was built and now NJSI is taking over the irrigation project in the same area by making 18,000 liters midway transfer tank. This plan will provide locals with the opportunity to increase their production of high-value vegetables and crops throughout the year especially in the dry season despite of the limitation of adequate rain. Thus, additional income possibilities for the subsistence economy of the households are also being offered.

Sirantole, a village in Helambu Rural Municipality-4, Sindhupalchowk is one of the places which is devoid of access to adequate water. On 29th March 2019, NJSI team reached the site for the celebration on accomplishing the drinking water project in Sirantole. Altogether 34 people were present. The program was precise and well managed. It started with welcoming the guest with Khada. Ward chairperson, Mr Raj Kumar Lamichhane also showed his presence and supported the locals throughout the program. After completion of the speeches, Fr S. Arulanandam SJ and Mr Raj Kumar inaugurated the tap and handed it to villagers.

The happiest beneficiaries of NJSI water initiatives are the women as the taps near to their house reduced the load of getting water by walking miles. Keeping the sustainability of the work in mind, NJSI is planning to do more in this area. This kind of plan is ideal for the mountainous terrain of Nepal where communities often sit high above a water source, having to rely on rain fed agriculture.

The population and NJSI team are grateful to all for believing in these vital actions and for helping to give these families a healthy and better life.

This article was first published in the NJSI News Bulletin of January- March 2019.
NJSI is part of the Xavier Network, supported by Jesuit Missions around the world, including our own in Britain.