Han Heijnen, President of IRHA visits Viswa Niketan HSS
“If we have storage, we can restore a lot of water from rain and the problem of water scarcity will be far less” – Han Heijnen
Han Heijnen, President of International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA) recently visited two project sites of the Emergency Rain Project at Liwali Internally Displaced People (IDP) Camp, Bhaktapur and ViswaNiketan Higher Secondary School, Tripureshwor and observed the condition of the sites. He spoke about the Emergency Rainwater Project, water crisis of the valley and recommends ways to solve the water woes with GUTHI.
What is the purpose of your visit?
After the 2015 earthquake, Nepal is in emergency. As a part of extending help to Kathmandu, IRHA is supporting with projects as a response in earthquake affected areas like Bhaktapur and ViswaNiketan Higher Secondary School. I am here to visit those sites and interact with people. The government of Nepal is planning to come up with the water Use Management Plan (WUMP) for rural areas. In this visit, I have also scheduled to discuss on the WUMP with Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation of Nepal.
Fig: Core area, Liwali, Bhaktapur
What do you observe in the project sites?
As an aftermath of the earthquake, 600 displaced people are living in temporary shelters forming a small community in Liwali IDP Camp Bhaktapur. There, they will have to redevelop access to various services including water supply and sanitation. Water supply in Bhaktapur is quite limited and IRHA is supporting the community for the same.
In the case of the Viswa Niketan School, the situation is different as there was existing rainwater harvesting system. The catchment area of the rainwater harvesting system was totally destroyed after old building collapsed.
Now the effort is to again recover most of the surface catchment area to collect water and have storage in a tank. This will directly improve sanitation and hygiene in the school. With over 3000 children attending school here, sufficient water is essential. Normally IRHA supports in places where people have no water because they live uphill above the springs. Rainwater harvesting can bring relief. But now it’s an emergency in Nepal also in urban areas in the Kathmandu Valley. Rainwater harvesting and storage capacity can make people’s lives easier and IRHA is happy to support.
How do you analyze the present water crisis in Nepal?
Water crisis is owned by ourselves. With growing population density in towns, improvements are needed in public water supply while also protecting traditional water sources.
Everything is a matter of conserving the resources that wehave. Rainwater is also a resource. The Ministry guideline says that we cannot afford to waste rainwater. We have forgotten many things like restoring ponds in the town. Further recharging rain will improve ground water storage and benefit everyone.
There is only sufficient water in Nepal for six months. The remaining six months, we have to conserve water. Then what to do? Carry water from far by putting an expensive pipeline? Or may be encourage households to build rainwater harvesting systems as in Dharan. Both may be necessary to enhance water security. It is a matter of policy and awareness on the part of households.
The advantage of rainwater is it comes every year. Still, if we have storage, we can restore a lot of water from rain and the problem of water scarcity will be far less.
What is your recommendation?
Water is not something we can allow to flow. We have to use it sensibly. One way by which we can improve the supply of water is raising tariffs. At present, the waterrates are very low and therefore nobody cares about it. With fair tariff people will be careful with water and also be inclined to collect rainwater for their domestic purpose. We have to use water wisely. Wasting watershould be fined. “We have to supply 100 liters of water per head per day” according to Small Town Project.
But, what to do when there is no 100 liters per head per day in the sources. So, we cannot supply such amount of water and we may have to explore effective water saving measures and rainwater harvesting.