Project Cascade A harsh life in a harsh environment Sindhuli district is home to some of Nepal’s poorest and most marginalised communities. A huge proportion of the district’s population lives in remote rural areas, without access to clean water or any sanitation. The environment is tough, with communities scattered across very mountainous terrain, with little or no road access – or connection to the outside world. A lack of access to clean water and sanitation has huge impacts on rural communities. Sick children are unable to attend school, and miss vital classes and exams which give them opportunities for a brighter future. Parents are forced to spend money they simply don’t have on medical treatment, instead of using it to invest in their futures. Women are bound by the hours they spend collecting water, and are unable to earn a living. The lack of water and sanitation quite simply keeps people in poverty. Tosramkhola villagers share their stories Tosramkhola is just one of Sindhuli district’s remote rural villages, where a lack of access to water and sanitation is having devastating impacts on people’s lives. Villagers regularly have to rise at 3am to make trips to a water source – all they can bring back is what they can carry. Ukhamaya Sarki, 22 Ukhamaya (right) has a 10 month old baby Mangali, and lives with her father. The only water they have access to is not clean, and as a result Mangali suffers from diarrhoea twice a month. Ukhamaya’s family is very poor, and she has to borrow money to be able to pay for medicines. “If the baby wasn’t sick I could save lots of money. I could also have more time to do other things. When she is sick I don’t have time to have lunch or dinner. I don’t have time to work in the fields to earn money, because she is crying. In the future I want my baby to teach. I want to send her to school to get an education. I want her to read. I don’t want her to face the same predicaments as me.” - Ukhamaya Sarki Masini Bahadur Damai Masini (right) is from the Dalit caste, whose members are very marginalised in Nepal. She lives at the top of a hill, which is accessed by a very steep climb up extremely narrow paths. The lower the caste, the poorer the land they have to farm, and the more remote their dwellings are. “When we fetch water from the river there is no problem of untouchability. Only lower caste people go there to collect water. But when we go to the other water source we have problems. That source is used by the upper caste.” - Masini Bahadur Damai Delivering the solution ECIS schools’ funds will help to provide sustainable access to water and sanitation in Nepal’s rural villages. Our work in rural Nepal is without doubt some of our most challenging, but brings about life-changing transformations to inaccessible communities who are not being reached by anyone else. Thanks to WaterAid’s work, in the village of Piplegaun a gravity flow scheme has been in operation for a year now, and every house has a toilet. Ambika Sarki, a mother of four from Piplegaun, used to walk for 30 minutes to collect a bucket of water, and did this ten times every day. She remembers first hearing about the project: “There was a buzz in the village that something was going to happen. In the beginning we did not believe that a water supply would be so easy but later we found it was true. I was so happy when the tap was built – because now I can do whatever I want with the water. We three households use the tap – we all gathered there when it was installed.” Ambika Sarki from Piplegaun gives her son safe, clean water, thanks to the village’s gravity flow system. Using gravity to bring water to every household In rural hill regions in Nepal we use gravity flow systems to bring access to clean water to every single family in remote villages. This innovative technology takes advantage of the problem to deliver the solution, and is the most appropriate and cost-effective for the tough mountainous environment. Clean water is captured from a protected upland spring, and using the force of gravity, it is transported to a number of tapstands in the community below. The tapstands are within easy reach of people’s houses, and dramatically cut the time it takes to access water – plus of course, the water is safe. Maintenance of the system is vital, and so community members are trained as caretakers who are permanently on site to keep clean safe water running smoothly. Changing behaviour to create a long term impact For any water technology to be successful in the long term, it is necessary to first address sanitation and hygiene awareness. Through education and awareness sessions, every single person in the community is able to make the link between poor sanitation and disease. Addressing social issues like caste discrimination is also vital to a project’s long term success. A users committee is formed of men and women who represent different castes in the community. This committee plays an integral role in the ongoing management of the project, and ensures that the voices of disadvantaged and excluded groups are heard. Community involvement is vital The communities who benefit from the scheme are involved throughout – from planning to development, from implementation to post project monitoring. They help decide exactly where the intake will be, and a member of every household helps dig trenches for the pipelines. Taking this approach ensures that communities themselves own the projects, and are committed to maintaining them for the long term. Sita Devi Pahadi Sita Devi Pahadi, 46, is a member of the water and sanitation users committee in Piplegaun, a village where a WaterAid gravity flow system is now up and running. “I was one of the team members who chose the location of the intake. I actively took part during the construction of the drinking water project. It took nine months, and I devoted all my time to it. I really feel good. It is a matter of pride and dignity. I have not been exposed to society to this extent beforehand. Now everyone knows me and I have got lots of respect. “In terms of the change since the project, the first thing is that the whole environment has changed. There has been a visible change in sanitation, likewise our time has been saved because we had to spend lots of time collecting water but now the tap is nearby. Dish and utensil washing has been easier and we do not have to face problems when we need to defecate in the daytime. Even diarrhoea has reduced significantly.” The Big Collection Help WaterAid transform the lives of hundreds people like Ukhamaya, Masini and Sita with ECIS this year! Email [email protected] to order your free Big Collection fundraising pack, full of fundraising ideas and resources and classroom activities and lesson plans to help you build learning about Nepal into your curriculum.