Poor water quality is one of the major environmental health issues facing Nepal.
Only 17% of the country’s population have access to a safely managed water supply system, according to the Joint Monitoring Programme, 2021 - a stark reminder of the gap that remains to be filled to fulfill the goal of clean water and sanitation for all by 2030.
The Department of Water Supply and Sewage Management (DWSSM) with support from WHO has been implementing the DFID (now FCDO) funded project “Delivering climate-resilient water and sanitation in Africa and Asia” in Nepal.
As part of this project, the DWSSM is supporting to upgrade normal Water Safety Plan (WSP) into Climate Resilient Water Safety Plan (CR-WSP) at 10 water supply projects: Mangadh, Bardibas, Gajuri, Panchdhara, Bhadgaun, Lekhnath, Shankarnagar, Pragatinagar, Surkhet, and Attariya. The implementation of CR-WSP in these projects is expected to benefit a total of 480,000 people.
The expected outcomes of the project are:
Updated CR-WSP in 10 projects with consideration of climatic hazards,
Revised improvement plan with site-specific activities, budget, and timeframe,
Water supply projects equipped with required water quality monitoring equipment along with being trained on its use,
Increased awareness on CR-WSP at the project and community level
Majority of the 42,000 water supply projects operating in Nepal are managed by Water Users and Sanitation Committees (WUSC). With limited technical capacity, the committees require expert assistance to ensure the supply of safe water to consumers. Climate change and several climatic hazards have further aggravated the issue of water quality.
As part of the project, a water safety plan (WSP) team has been formed at each project site. Members of the WSP include representatives from local health agencies, weather stations, NGOs, teachers, and civil society.
WHO, Country Office for Nepal, provided technical and financial support for the development and implementation of CR-WSP at the selected 10 water supply projects. This entailed providing orientation to members of the WSP team, conducting review meetings to identify and integrate climatic hazards into the plan, and modify and implement improvement plans, among others.
The central team with WHO officials carried out baseline assessments and handed over test kits (Wagtech kit, Photometer, Autoclave, Digital Turbidity meter, Pen type EC meter with reagents and consumables) to the projects. Orientation on Water Quality Monitoring and Standard Operating Procedure has been organized for lab technicians and WUSC representatives of all 10 sites.
The Joint Monitoring Programme shows much must be done to improve water quality issues in Nepal which has been further aggravated by climate change.
“The recent cholera outbreak in Kapilvastu has highlighted the importance of safe water supply for people’s health,” said WHO Representative to Nepal, Dr Rajesh Sambhajirao Pandav. “Adopting a climate-resilient water safety plan (CR-WSP) not only ensures continuous supply of safe water but also takes into consideration the climatic hazards from catchment to the consumers. Hence, I urge all stakeholders to expand the plan in other water supply systems.”