Nepal: Accelerated and sustainable progress in sanitation and hygiene is within our reach


Kathmandu (MPPW/SNV/IRC):  Accelerated and sustainable progress in sanitation and hygiene is within reach in Asia, as long as we aim at district-wide coverage and build a broad alliance under leadership of local governments. This is the main conclusion of sanitation and hygieneexperts from 5 countries (Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia) participating in a workshop on governance on water, sanitation and hygiene organized by the Nepal government together with SNV Netherlands development organization and the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre from 13 to 17 September 2011.


Regional sharing and learning from experiences is an important of the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All programme being implemented in 17 districts across Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, implemented by local government partners and assisted by SNV and IRC since 2008. Last year, this programme was intensified with co-funding from the AusAID Civil Society WASH Fund and recently with support from DFID in Vietnam. The aim is to contribute to giving two million rural people access to improved hygiene and sanitation facilities by the end of 2015.


The multiple-donor programme addresses one of the biggest challenges in rural sanitation: its low priority in local government and in particular in resource allocation. Dialogue among sector stakeholders and joint target setting for district-wide rural sanitation coverage has helped to overcome this to a greater extent, and even to create drive and leadership for sanitation. Also, district sanitation plans have been made and joint monitoring has helped to create a common understanding and buy-in from different stakeholders to prioritise sanitation.


Specific attention is given to how to support the most vulnerable groups in society, reviewing current poverty ranking and subsidy practices. Women and socially excluded groups have been supported to put forward their opinions about sanitation at community and district level.


The Mid-western region of Nepal is an example when it comes to leadership and rapid progress in rural sanitation. The Regional Monitoring and Supervision Office, Surkhet (RMSO)/ Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) has successfully brought local stakeholders together, promoted leadership for sanitation at all levels (district, VDC, community) and ensured district sanitation plans in all 15 districts.  The number of VDC that are declared open defecation free has increased from 5 (2010) to 28(2011) in the past 12 months in 6 districts and the sanitary quality of toilets from 25% to 75% of the households in 21 VDCs in the mid-western region.


"Now  I am glad that district and village development committees are taking the lead in the district sanitation programme and there is a joint movement,” says Prem Krishna Shrestha, a Senior Divisional Engineer from Surkhet district in mid-western Nepal. "We were surely going to miss the MDG and national targets of universal sanitation coverage by 2017 if we had taken the same pace as before." – SNV Nepal


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