- Manashree Newa
The devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015 highly affected the old settlements in Kathmandu Valley. Among them, Liwali, located at southern Bhaktapur also suffered massive damage.
The Liwali Ganesh Internally Displaced People (IDP) Camp, spread over an area of 1,526.22 m2 with 60 temporary shelters,was established to provide shelter to the IDPs. However, the shelter supporting a population of 607 was affected by chronic lack of safe drinking water; their only source of water being a dug well and a murky river nearby. Thus, to help the communities fulfill their needs as basic as water, IRHA and GUTHI implemented the "Emergency Rain" project in 2015 which not only focused on establishing safe and clean water sources, but also worked on improving the resilience of the infrastructure and vulnerable population through targeted capacity building activities and local economic development opportunities.
Under the "Emergency Rain" project, rainwater harvesting system with a catchment area of 668.9 m2 and 100 m3 rainwater collection tank was constructed. The local bodies suggested on making the tank bigger than the proposed size of 25 m3 while the residents agreed to volunteer for its construction. About 30 volunteers worked from 6 am to 7 pm for a month, exceeding both IRHA and GUTHI's expectations. Analyzing the works of GUTHI and IRHA, and appreciating the local participation, Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board also provided a UV filter to ensure safe water at the camp. Thus, with the synergetic effort of GUTHI, IRHA, local bodies, and the residents, the rainwater harvesting system installed at Liwali has been providing safe water in sufficient quantities not only to the camp residents, but also to the neighboring houses. Even after seven months, the water collected during monsoon is still quenching the thirst of camp and local residents with 40 L water per family per day.
Apart from the physical infrastructures, trainings on WASH, Menstrual Hygiene Management, and Disaster Risk Reduction were conducted, which created awareness among the camp residents. For strengthening the economic status of low-income families, skill imparting trainings such as liquid soap making and plumbing trainings were given. The trainees have been using the skills in income generating activities, uplifting their quality of life.
Thus, the Emergency Rain Project at Liwali, not only ensured a safe and clean drinking water source, but also organized activities that can improve their awareness levels and strengthen their economic status. One of our major learning from the project would be empathy and understanding. In order to successfully run a sustainable project, there should be a close connection with the local residents; only then can we understand the actual problem, and find a sustainable solution to it.