Nepal is one of the countries with the richest water supplies. The monsoon season (4 months, from June to September) and the Mediterranean winter rains provide a sufficient amount of water. Geological conditions and vegetation help to store the water, so most of the hills have got natural water sources. Only in May and June, the hottest months of the year, is there little water.
The main problem is that drinking water does not reach the population, as most of the sources are too far away from the villages.
In the last 40 years the Nepalese government has repeatedly promised clean drinking water, but little has been realized yet. In the meantime both city dweller and the rural population have come to realize the importance of clean drinking water.
In Sarangkot it took most people 2 to 2.5 hours to fetch water. As water is essential for both people and animals, it had to be fetched once or more times a day. Children at school, too, suffered from the lack of water. They couldn’t even wash themselves or their clothes.
In the past a lot of initiatives were taken by non-governmental organisations, which started small-scale projects. Polythene pipelines were laid through the jungle, connecting the source of water with the village. The supply of water is, however, regularly disrupted. Some of the causes are that some villagers in need of water cut through the pipelines to get at the water. And the combination of heavy rainfall and sodden soil causes landslides which destroy the pipelines.
In 2002 there was a fierce forest fire which melted the plastic pipelines.
Sarangkot had built a water reservoir before, but as the pipelines were destroyed, other villages took the opportunity to appropriate the sources.
In 2004 the Village Development Committee asked Quality of Life Nepal to raise funds for a new water project. The installation of a water tank, a reservoir and 5 km of pipelines (through jungle and across a rocky side of the mountain) would help more than 500 families in Sarangkot.
The pipelines would be made of metal in order to avoid the above mentioned problems.
QOLN suggested the villagers should execute the project themselves (labour costs reduced by 25%), so as to increase their involvement and responsibility in the project. Without their personal involvement the villagers might again neglect the maintenance of the pipelines or destroy the taps.
The water project started in January 2005 with a budget of € 17,000. Metal pipelines were imported from India; Nepal provided cement and stones.
The whole project was planned to take 5 months, but in the end it took more than a year and a half. Due to political turmoil and strikes we had to wait a long time before the equipment arrived. Another problem was the demand of the neighbouring village of Kaskikot (where the source is) for pipelines and water taps for them. QOLN eventually decided to help that village too, as water is a necessity for everyone. QOLN asked QOLB for another 3000€, in order to be able to support Kaskikot too.
The water project was inaugurated on January 4th. The works on the water taps were not yet finished, but the official ceremony was held on that day to welcome the co-workers of QOLB.
Political unrest, even worse than before, started again in February. A lot of villagers came on foot to KTM to demonstrate against the king!
Another problem rose: villagers argued about where to install the water taps as everyone wanted them as close to their home as possible.
Finally the 9 water taps were finished in May 2006. A surveyor was appointed who would regularly inspect the pipelines and report leaks.
To protect the source and to catch a maximum of safe drinking water, a small container was built. The capacity of the source is unfortunately not sufficient to supply drinking water to 3000 people all the year through. From January till May water is available only a few hours a day.
2007 – 2008
The summer of 2007 was a disaster for the water project. Too much rainfall caused more than 50 landslides all over Sarangkot mountain and about 600 meters of pipelines went downhill. It took QOLN one year to get the people together and motivated to repair this project. Also they had to wait for the land to stabilize and search for funds.
In January 2009 Belgian friends John & May funded the money (6.000 euro) to support the repairing of the water project. QOLN formed a committee who opened a tender and made an agreement to finish the water project within March.
Nine people worked hard and in dangerous circumstances to bring the pipes through the jungle and over the cliffs and landslides. At Nepali New year (14th of April 2009) this project was inaugurated and the people of Sarangkot will have fresh drinking water again!
Through the financial help of Belgian organization Altaïr (Carlo & Edith Peetroons-Van Gorp), QOLN could finish the pipelines to get water to our day-care centre. From now on all our kids have water to wash their hands and teachers can give them a better care!
QOLN made a fund to sustain this project and pay the salary of a caretaker for this water project.