Dhulikhel – Prem Maya Tamang while approaching to pull out a sack of potatoes stored digging the garden shared her happiness and sadness. For the past few years’ life has been easier for her along with other villagers after drinkable water has been managed locally.
The heavy rainfall during harvesting season damaged the potatoes output. Prem Maya, who just brought a heavy sack of potatoes from the field to the roadside, was on her way to get the another one. Once she heard the issue of water, her pain due to the damage to potatoes caused by heavy rainfall was outweighed by the joy of regular water supply to her village.
“I don’t have to go to forest in the morning to bring water from springs,” said 51-year-old Prem Maya from Tamang Gaun, Ward No. 9, Dhulikhel Municipality.
Despite having springs in the forest around the village, villagers didn’t have access to clean drinking water. The situation has changed somewhat in the last few years because of the drinking water project run by residents; managed by Tamang Gaun, Karki Gaun, and Ranachhap drinking water Users’ Committee.
35 households in three villages have been getting water from the common taps for the past four years. “We used to collect water from that forest”, pointing to the forest of Dhulikhel where water originates, Bimala Ranabhat, president of the Users’ Committee, said, “we have been getting water from the community taps for the past four years.”
Residents of Tamangtol, Karki Gaun, and Ranachhap were forced to go to ‘Dhulikhel ko Thulo Jungle’ (Forest of Dhulikhel) below the village to bring water. “When I went to collect water in the evening and morning, I was afraid of animals, and also feared being sexually exploited”, said 43-year-old Ranabhat, who is also a beneficiary.
The thirst that barely quenched
Although the discussion on drinking water management at the community level in Dhulikhel Bazar has been continued for the last few decades beyond the boundary of the country, the problem in these three villages remained unchanged. Locals requested the then Village Development Committee and municipality, but the situation hasn’t changed.
Bimala recalled how continuous unified efforts to pressurize municipality finally paid off and they were able to bring clean water to the village. ”There was water, but in the forest. We are farmers and always engage in farming. In addition, we had to go to the forest to collect water”, Ranabhat further said, ”we constantly asked the municipality for the water project. After long effort, the municipality allocated budget in 2075 BS, and the villagers worked collectively. Finally, we were able to bring water to the settlement on the hill.”
The municipality provided 200 thousand rupees in two installments to build the tank and basic infrastructure to collect and store water. “We worked to build these infrastructures”, Ranabhat said, ”after identifying springs, we made a tank of 12 thousand litters capacity.” After that, the municipality handed an additional 100 thousand rupees for drawing up water and making taps. ”We built a distribution tank with capacity of six thousand liters. We are drinking water by making seven taps for three villages,” said Ranabhat, who has been leading the Users’ Committee since the beginning.
Since 2075, 35 houses in three villages of the Dhulikhel municipality-9 are drinking water from the community taps, not from the springs in the forest. “It has become very easy to quench thirst,” said Prem Maya of Tamang village.
One tap per house: A Dream
President Ranabhat, who is very hopeful for managing individual taps for every house in the village, mentioned more support is needed for the accomplishment. “If we can make bigger tank that can store more water from the spring, it would be possible to supply water to every house”, she said. She added that “water from the spring will be enough to supply to the whole villages.” Villagers have experienced an increase in the amount of water after the spring water was collected in water tanks. Water from the collection tank to the distribution tank near the village runs through a 32 mm pipe. The villagers said large stream of water is constantly flowing from the collection tank in the forest.
According to the people there, water collection ponds on the hills are the ones to contribute in recharging springs. There are multiple small ponds around the village, some of them were there for a long time and some were built in recent years. President Ranabhat said that she has experienced an increase in the amount of water in the last few years however, Ranabhat stresses that they need economic resources and technical support for further management. In her own words “what we have done so far is an indicator towards our capability in water management in the future, all we need is support and cooperation.”
Tamang Gaun, Karki Gaun, and Ranachhap Water Users’ Committee have hired a watchman from the village with seven thousand salaries per month. By collecting 300 rupees per household per month, they have been managing electricity charges and other administrative expenses. According to the Users’ Committee, they have been given tax waivers by the municipality. “But we haven’t got a discount on the electricity tariff”, President Ranabhat said. She further added “despite talking to the municipality and ward administration for discount on the electricity tariff, we aren’t granted yet.”
Villagers said that they can manage water projects themselves in the sustainable way, all they need is support from the local body. Ranabhat said, ”there are ways to quench our thirst but what we need is only the support.”