Water Coverage

March 10, 2017

The Himalayan Times Editorial, March 10, 2017

The country has set the target of supplying water and providing sanitation services to all Nepalese by the end of current year 2017.

Indeed, over the past many years, there has been a significant improvement in expanding the coverage of these two things across the country. According to census reports, 85 percent Nepalis had access to improved water supply in 2011 whereas in the Census a decade earlier the figure was 72 percent.

Nepal is considered to have already met this target of improved water supply under the Millennium Development Goals, if we are to go by the findings of the 2013 Joint Monitoring Programme which involved the government, WHO, and UNICEF.

The existing gap in the supply of improved water to rural and urban areas has been considerably reduced, a lot, however, remains to be improved in the quality of services.

Moreover, it is not an encouraging fact that the coverage of water supply has remained stagnant since 2011, as per the sector development plan (2016-2030) on national water supply, sanitation and hygiene released by the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation.

Questions of the levels of improved water supply and sanitation remain, as regards quality, quantity and regularity. Just a look at the statistics will not necessarily reveal the true picture of the services that are being provided.

For example, the residents of the Kathmandu Valley, which is considered to be the most privileged part of the country in terms of access to many services, have access to piped drinking water, but water is supplied by the water office once every four days, and even this is not regularly and adequately available to all the households; and some parts of the capital valley have better supply than the others.

This is true for other areas of the country as well. The Department of Water Supply and Sanitation data (2015) shows that 44.5 percent households have access to piped water and that almost half of these are privately connected.

The remaining households in the country depend on alternative sources, such as covered wells (38.5 percent), open wells (7 percent), and other unreliable sources (10 percent).

Access to piped water is also regarded as relative wealth of households. According to the 2011 Census, 34 districts with mostly plain areas enjoy 85 percent water coverage, 38 districts has coverage somewhere between 60 percent and 85 percent, and three hill districts have less than 60 percent coverage.

The difficult terrain of the hills may pose more obstacles to installing piped water supply than in the geographically more convenient areas. This and some other factors may naturally cause some imbalances in water coverage between regions to persist, for some time.

But the most important factors to be considered are the quality of services, which includes reliability, regularity, and adequacy and purity of water. In these respects, much more needs to be done even in those areas which have piped water supply. Just statistics do not reveal everything important.

Similarly, similar standards apply to access to sanitation services, which leave much more to be desired as regards coverage and regional imbalances.

Boost security

The police say that they have boosted security in the capital city. However, there are deluges of reports of theft and burglary. Six incidents of theft were reported by the police two days ago.

Incidents of thefts take place even during broad daylight when about 50 per cent of such crimes take place. It would be an uphill task for the police alone to deal with these criminal activities. It is recommended that the public too participated to deal with the thefts and burglary.

Most of them occur in unattended houses and vacant rented rooms. The public should report all suspicious activities and people to the police so that they are able to prevent these crimes.

It would be advisable for people to inform others in their locality when they are going outside leaving their houses unattended. Since thefts and burglary are committed by repeated offenders, it might be helpful if they were dispensed tougher punishment so that they are discouraged from their clandestine activities.

Meanwhile, the police should be patrolling in all the localities so as to help control these crimes as they usually take place in places where the presence of the security personnel is relatively low.