Vessela Monta, Executive Director at the International Rainwater Harvesting Association (IRHA)
Vessela Monta, Executive Director at the International Rainwater Harvesting Association (IRHA) was in Nepal to visit the Blue Schools programme in Pokhara. She was the guest speaker in the consultative meeting organised by Jal Sanjaal, a local network of NGOs working in the water sector, to discuss about the need of establishing the national network of sector actors in the rainwater harvesting.
Vessela spoke to Prakash Amatya, a rainwater advocate and a member of IRHA, about her experiences during the mission to Nepal.
How was your overall mission?
Vessela Monta: My mission was quite fruitful one. First I saw that our planning has been executed and well done. Our local partner has one more than what I had asked for which is very good. And we coordinated all what was planned and executed. The mission is absolutely successful.
What brought you here?
Vessela Monta: The sight of the river, which is full of waste, this breaks my heart.
How did you find the projects that you supported in Kaski?
Vessela Monta: It was very cautiously done. It is well accepted by population and the local partner. And I am sure it is a good example for the future.
Do you think that there is still more opportunities to improve the work?
Vessela Monta: Yes, I think we must work longer time with the population because this project was done for a year time and a year is not enough to change the mind of people. We must keep longer time of work with people to change their mind.
Fig: Bagmati River Area, Kathmandu
What will you take back to your work and the larger family of IRHA?
Vessela Monta: First is my excellent impression of Nepal and from the people here. I don’t know whether it is only the people in Kaski or all over the country that they can not stay 5 minutes without laughing. They laugh all the time. They are very easy smiling people. It is such a good environment they create is extraordinary, I like it lot. I also think that, the country leaves some kind of effort to go further and to do better. The streets which are now going to be larger and better or renewed, all these make some kind of national elevation which I hope is not impression and it is real, and it will lead you very far.
What would be three points you would like to highlight about your visit to Nepal not limiting to Kaski?
Vessela Monta: It is the rich history and the culture that you have inherited for centuries of which you should be proud of and I am sure you are proud of it. The second thing is the people, they are smiling, good people, easy going in conversation and they are open. Nothing like this in all countries you will find such an easy touch with local population. It is very pleasant. The third thing but it should on the first place is the enthusiastic and active young people. They are really bringing your future. It is again up to us how you can best utilise their strength and energy. They could be the best capital for the country.
Is this not more like a political statement?
Vessela Monta: It’s very human not political. (Laugh)
Can you share your ideas for improvements to be done by Nepalese organisation to promote the works on RWH. Do you think Nepal should act differently to institutionalize RWH?
Vessela Monta: Yes of course, something can be improved. But generally speaking, you have facilities to adapt everything such as first flush and filtration are there in place. It is there, but of different kinds of the system that you can introduce. There are things that could be improved; moreover they come from our lives. Of course in urban areas some more sophisticated means of introducing RWH. Already mixing rainwater with tap water, how to do it and it is not a complicated issue. But it is something that is not very difficult and you can do it.
Further, Vessela commented the consultative meeting was very empowering. She highlighted that each one carries differences but thinks in the same way concerning RWH. It was very much joyful to observe it for her.
When asked her about the future, she said,” The next level is you to do something together and to enjoy doing it. And after that I think the next step is creation of your association in which if you see that’s its necessary then do it the way you should do”.
Vessela shared that she really wanted to live some more time here, breathe with the people and to feel more than the impression. Nepal was something very especial to her. She thinks people who live in mountains have special character with some kind of freedom in the way of thinking. This must be similar for both the countries. What is very specific about Swiss is they have decided to live in peace. They are composed by 22 little countries, which have decided to solve every problem together and not to fight. I hope that this peaceful mind is also a feature of Nepalese people. And of course she loved to work in these two beautiful countries.
Prakash Amatya, member, IRHA 29 March 2013