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Baglung gears up for urban infrastructure overhaul




“It´s hard to say whether we are connected to government supply line until we see few drops of water trickling from our tap,” said Meera Shrestha of Baglung, echoing the often heard statement from the water-starved people of Kathmandu.

Muddy water from the government pipeline during the rainy season does not surprise her, nor is she astonished if no water flows from her tap during the winter.

Though faring better when it comes to Human Development Index–24th among the 75 districts–the district headquarters Baglung Bazar is currently facing the shortage of over 1.6 million liters of water for 7800 total households.

While the remittance money sent by the youths working abroad has improved the living standards of the Baglung residents, drinking water management has emerged as the major challenge in the district.

On one hand, the District Development Committee claims to have installed drinking water pipes covering 88 percent households, the strategic plan prepared by the authority itself states that the existing water supply system fails on several counts.

While the concept of forming drinking water consumers´ committee is yet to be adopted, owners of private lands prefer to lease the lands to private water suppliers for boring.
“The land owners sell the lands to water tanker entrepreneurs rather than cooperating with the consumers´ committee,” said Engineer Trilochan Giri of Baglung municipality. “The problem would have eased during the dry season had the natural water sources at private land been utilized properly.”

From 2001 to 2011, the population of the municipality swelled to 33,000 from 20,854. As a result, the Ministry of Finance selected six municipalities: Baglung, Mechinagar, Tansen, Lekhnath, Itahari and Dhankuta, which would be developed as emerging towns based on demographic factors, economic potential, local capacity and security.

Receiving a national attention, the locals´ hope lies on the ongoing project that claims to solve drinking water problem here for the next 20 years.

In support of the World Bank under the Second Small Town Water Supply and Sanitation Project, the municipality has secured the drinking water project worth Rs 185 million that would connect additional 3500 households to tap water facility. The consumers have contributed Rs 7.2 million for the project.

The project that has begun after a three-year delay promises to supply water for a population of 40,000, said Hari Dutta Kandel, Executive Officer of the Municipality. The office targets to complete the project by January 2015.

100 percent toilet access by January end

Arjewa VDC of Baglung was Nepal´s first VDC to have 100 percent toilet coverage eight years ago. Baglung LDO Punya Bikram Poudel says that the concept of Open Defecation was not known at that time. Although the district holds the record of first ODF VDC, 11 more VDCs made this achievement only on May 14, 2012.

Realizing that the district was lagging behind the national sanitation target, the government and the locals actively participated in a campaign as a result of which 20,000 new toilets were constructed within a year.

On January 30, all 48 VDCs and the municipality would be declared ODF. Currently, 62,000 households have access to toilet. The same day, Dhaulagiri zone would also be declared the ODF zone. As a reward, the DDC provides Rs 50,000 to the ODF declared districts for post-ODF total sanitation program.

“As the locals have started using toilet, the streets that used to be filled with human excreta are quite clean today,” says Bed Bahadur Chhantyal, resident of Damek-9.
In the last one year, the government and the local intellectual have done all they could to make people construct and use toilet in the various locality. Following the peoples´ reluctance to build toilet, Taman VDC office had stopped social security payment for the certain period, said the VDC Secretary Yug Raj Sharma.

Toilet construction began aggressively in Jaidi when the community school teacher Ishwari Raj Sharma went on a hunger strike for the same. “It was hard to convince the locals with most of them belonging to Dalit community, so I chose to go on a hunger strike to convince them,” he said.

The locals had agreed to build toilet after 26 hours of hunger strike at the house of Sahabir Nepali in Jaidi-8. While the caste-based discrimination is deeply uprooted in the localities, access to water and sanitation and their participation in post-ODF programs would help to bridge the gap said between various communities, said LDO Poudel.

Published on 2014-01-11 01:49:26

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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