Welcome to this very special virtual field trip.
Very soon, you’ll be going behind the scenes of a WaterAid project and discovering more about how we harness technology to overcome challenges, our pandemic response, and the impact climate change is having on water, sanitation and hygiene.
You’ll meet the people we work alongside and immerse yourself in their lives, and hear from some of the team involved in our work. They'll be online during our visit, ready to answer any questions in the live chat.
Your tour starts at 2pm on Wednesday 24 November. In the meantime, and to prepare you for your visit, we’ve put together some background on the communities, the work, and what to expect on the day.
We'll be visiting Dolakha, located 135km north east of Kathmandu. It's home to one of Nepal’s most marginalised ethnic groups, the Thami community. A hill tribe of just 30,000 people, they are often overlooked by development projects.
Our work in Dolakha is focused on two municipalities – or boroughs – called Kalinchowk and Shailung. For your tour, we’ll be taking you to Kalinchowk, a lush, green area nested high in the mountains of northern Dolakha, and the picturesque destination for thousands of pilgrims and trekkers each year. Meanwhile, Shailung lies in the south and is known locally as the ‘land of a hundred hills’.
It's clear why people make their way to these areas every year: the breath-taking sights, the feeling of peace, and the wonderfully kind and spirited locals – locals who love their home, the beauty of which they never take for granted.
We'll be welcomed to Nepal by Shivani Chemjong, WaterAid Nepal's Communications and Campaign Lead. She introduces our guide for this tour: Mani Karmacharya, Voices from the Field Officer.
Set out across the mountainous terrain, home of the Himalayas, and catch a glimpse of the country, communities and landscape. Arrive in Dolakha, 135km north east of Kathmandu, to hear about our project work there.
See first-hand the impact of a major landslide affecting the community at Shilaphare. Meet the community leaders dealing with the disaster, and hear their hopes for the future.
Find out more about the impact of COVID-19 on our project work, and what our teams have been doing to respond.
Catch a glimpse of the tech we use in this challenging environment, and hear stories of hope for a future with a reliable supply of clean water.
About the project
Discover more about Foundations for the Future, our project working to bring reliable sources of clean water to communities in Dolakha.About the project
A lack of clean water in areas like Dolakha is holding communities here back – preventing children from getting an education and standing in the way of people who want to earn a better living.
Two and a half years ago, with the significant support of people like you, we embarked on an ambitious project to improve access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene for communities in this remote region.
Here’s a little more background to help you explore ahead of our virtual tour:
- Carrying water can take several hours, leaving less and less time for farming, business or school.
- Steep, narrow mountain paths can cause serious injuries.
- Some water sources are dirty or not working properly, which can lead to sickness.
- This area is vulnerable to natural hazards – such as earthquakes and landslides – which affect water sources.
- Changing weather patterns associated with climate change mean communities face more uncertainty as they experience more frequent or extreme episodes of flooding or drought.
- Build 15 new water supply systems to reach 6,000 people with clean water.
- Use gravity flow systems, a low-cost way to tap reliable mountain springs and pipe water to people’s homes.
- Support schools to improve their water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, setting up WASH Clubs to promote good hygiene habits and empowering young people to share what they have learned with each other and the community.
- Work closely with the community, focusing on marginalised groups, women, and people with disabilities to make sure they are included in the decision-making process.
- Lobby local government to prioritise WASH in their annual plans and in schools. We will encourage the success of this work to be rolled out to more communities.
Each point on the timeline explains more about our progress to date – and the challenges we've overcome together:
Progress so far
Despite all the recent challenges, we're making steady progress to bring clean, reliable and accessible water to mountain communities in Dolakha.
NB: All progress relates to the most recent figures available, up to September 2020.
Stories from Dolakha
From the individuals experiencing long and often perilous journeys to collect water, to the community leaders helping shape the project, discover some of the stories from the region:
"There is no life without water"
Nanda Kumari lives among the scattered mountain communities of Dolakha, where many people rely on open springs for their water. Following 2015's earthquake, some of these sources became unreliable, and many dry up for several months a year. In the rainy season, the springs become muddy and contaminated, raising the chances of people falling ill.
Women and girls traditionally collect water for the family. Several times a day they negotiate steep, narrow and slippery paths to reach the springs; injuries on these perilous journeys are common.
Time spent collecting water is time lost from gettin
Anisha’s ambition is to be a dancer. Yet she must spend her spare time washing dishes and fetching water at the local stream because there isn’t a clean water source closer to her home, leaving little time for practice or study.
“Sometimes I feel like dancing and at the same time I have to go to fetch water and do other work, so managing time to practise is difficult,” she says. “If water is easily accessible in the taps in our homes, life would be comfortable for all. I would be able to practise dance, I would not have to bathe in an open place and I would not need to fetch water. I can have
The power of community
The moment someone turns on a tap for the first time is really special. But to arrive at this point it takes people working together, with leaders drawn from across communities. Man Bahadur Thami is one such leader, helping coordinate the project in Campol, Kalinchowk:
“Community support is really great. While digging the trench, there were 50-60 people gathered for the labour contribution which I think is a great number.
“I and other committee members visit different sites so that we can monitor the work and make sure the standard depth and width of the trench are correct. If we get involve
Strong, sustainable systems
Building effective, long-lasting water systems requires technologies appropriate for the terrain, as well as thorough planning for the future. With your support, communities in Kalinchowk will be introducing gravity-flow technology for their water supplies – ideal for this mountainous landscape.
Engineer Govinda Budthapa, from our local partner Community Development Forum, explains that using gravity instead of energy makes this technology highly cost-effective. The team will also design the system to “take into account population growth and increased demand for the next two decades”, making
Forces of nature
“I have seen and experienced landslides and floods but not as massive as the one that occurred here.”
Pabi Maya Thami stands in front of the visible mountain scar left by a recent landside. The damage was extensive: over 20 households were displaced, many people lost their farmland, and one of the water sources identified for the new scheme was destroyed.
Yet she and her community are undeterred in their fight to bring clean water to their home: “I am fully determined to complete this project. Problems occur but that doesn't mean that we back off and do nothing. Problems are part of our life
Generations of impact
The impact of this work will be passed on from one generation to the next, helping these communities to change their own lives forever.
For farmer and mother Manita Thami, it can help her to better protect her family from diseases caused by a lack of clean water, and everyone can make better use of the time they used to spend fetching water, so they can focus on improving their situation.
“Everybody is working hard and when the taps run clean water in every household, we will have a very comfortable life,” she says. “Since the water will be clean, I will be safe from waterborne diseases.”
WaterAid in Nepal
Explore some more of our work across the country: from improving hygiene and access to water in healthcare facilities, to empowering girls to challenge harmful taboos.
Find out more