Nepal
Capital:
Kathmandu
Population:
29.1 million
Area:
147,181
km2

Nine in ten people in Nepal now have clean water. But there’s much more to do: almost half the population still needs a decent toilet, one in ten people lacks clean water, and sanitation-related diseases remain a major problem.

Home to some of the most extreme landscapes on Earth, Nepal’s geography is one of the biggest barriers to reaching people with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. Communities living in remote, mountainous areas are particularly affected, as they face natural hazards which are only worsened by climate change.

In urban areas, growing populations put a huge strain on water and sewage services. Water sources are polluted by waste, but buying safe water is expensive, making life harder for people living in poverty.

Life is especially hard for women and girls. Many spend hours each day making dangerous journeys to fetch water. And harmful taboos mean that they are often shunned during their periods.

Nearly people have clean water.

That's over 26 million people.

Almost people don't have a decent toilet.

That's 6.8 million people living without this essential.

 children under 5 die a year from diarrhoea.

Caused by dirty water and poor toilets.

Our work in Nepal

We’ve worked with communities in Nepal since 1987, reaching the most excluded people – women, girls, people with disabilities, those who are discriminated against because of their caste – with the taps and toilets they need.

We use innovative technology to overcome challenges, working with Nepal’s natural landscape, not against it. We share our expertise with others, so more people can benefit.

We fight to put water, toilets and hygiene at the centre of health and education. We influence the government to develop effective, inclusive policies. And we empower people to hold decision-makers to account.

Tackling taboos

We work with young people to challenge gender discrimination and normalise menstruation.

WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

Periods are still a taboo topic in many areas of Nepal, where stigma can stop a girl from going to school, entering the kitchen, looking in a mirror, touching certain foods, and being in the presence of male family members.

With our local partners, we run school workshops with boys and girls to challenge traditional beliefs, normalise menstruation, and equip girls with the knowledge they need to stay clean and healthy while on their period.

Harnessing the power of photography

16-year-old Manisha was one of 12 teenagers who took part in a photography and educational project in their rural village. Girls picked up cameras for the first time to share the reality of daily life when on their period – from having to sit alone to eat, to being forbidden from milking the family cow.

Manisha, 16, participant of the photography workshop, showing photos to her grandmother at her home, Chaurideurali Rural Municipality, Kavre, Nepal, June, 2019.
Manisha shares some of her photos with her grandmother.

After running a local exhibition to highlight the restrictions they face while on their period, Manisha went on to share her experiences with more teenage girls – sparking an even wider conversation about the taboos surrounding menstruation in Nepal.

We did not know much about menstruation before and I could not speak about it, but I think such things should be discussed openly as now we know we don’t have to avoid touching certain things or seeing people during our period. Many adolescent girls like us have been suffering because of taboos.
Manisha, 16

Dignity for women with disabilities

For women and girls living with a learning disability, it’s even harder to access essential information about menstruation. The Bishesta campaign shared hygiene and health messages in an inclusive way – supporting all women to manage their periods with dignity.

WaterAid/ Shruti Shrestha

Harnessing the power of the natural landscape

The Foundations for the Future project uses innovative technology to bring clean water to one of Nepal’s remotest regions.

WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

The rugged, mountainous terrain of Dolakha makes fetching water on foot time-consuming and treacherous – but ideal for gravity-fed water systems.

Together with local leaders, partners and community groups, we’re installing a gravity flow system that will bring clean water to every household in the area. We’re tapping into quality water sources high in the mountains, then using the power of gravity to carry it downhill, where it’s treated and stored before being piped to individual tapstands.

Earthquake-resistant, cost-effective to run, and maintained by members of the community – it’s the perfect solution for this mountainous region.

Man Bahadur Thami, 46, inspecting the trench depth, Kalinchowk, Dolakha, Nepal, Sep 2020.
WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya
Digging the trenches for the new system is a community effort, with up to 60 local people getting involved each time.

Rebuilding lives after disaster strikes

In 2015 Nepal was hit by two catastrophic earthquakes, killing almost 9,000 people and destroying thousands of water supplies and toilets. In the months and years that followed, we’ve worked with communities to rebuild taps and toilets in the worst-hit areas – stopping diarrhoea claiming even more lives.

We’ve been working with plumbers like Krishna Sunuwar as he helps his remote village of Kharelthok recover:

When I came here after the earthquake, the situation was not good. But now all the households have constructed toilets… the hygiene and sanitation situation is improved and people have access to clean drinking water. I am proud to be associated with this project!
Krishna Bahadur Sunuwar
WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

In Nepal, a new mother will take her baby to an immunisation clinic at least five times in the first nine months of the child's life. It’s the perfect opportunity to promote hygiene behaviour change – and our groundbreaking project, Hygiene promotion through immunisation, is doing just that.

We’re working with the Ministry of Health to embed essential hygiene information and education into the national routine immunisation programme, so reaching thousands of mothers and their babies.

Healthy Start

Supported by Georgio Armani’s Acqua for Life programme, we’re working with our local partner to improve hygiene at healthcare facilities for mothers and babies across the district of Bardiya. We're improving handwashing and water facilities, training staff, and supporting health workers to share their hygiene knowledge with expecting and new mothers.

Responding to COVID-19

We’ve joined forces with other charities, the UN, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as part of the Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC): a taskforce dedicated to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through improved hygiene, funded by UK Aid and supported by Unilever.

Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve been working with governments to expand existing hygiene programmes, running public awareness and behaviour change programmes, and building contactless handwashing hubs in health centres and busy public places.

In Nepal, we’ve also trained women in Kirtipur, in the Kathmandu valley, to make liquid soap and face masks, which they then sell at a fair price in the local market. Learning these skills has not only helped improve people’s access to these essential hygiene materials, but has also given households the opportunity to improve their livelihoods with a secure source of income.

Participants preparing the liquid soap, Kirtipur Municipality, Kathmandu, Nepal, Sep 2020.
WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya
Soap-making training is not only helping protect communities from the spread of COVID-19, but supporting women's financial independence too.

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Delve deeper into our work

Explore the latest publications, research and policy papers from our work in Nepal.

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