Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation
On Sunday January 3, 2016 the Secretary of the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation, Suresh Prakash Acharya,in the presence of all senior Ministry and Departmental staff, welcomed the Hon'ble Minister of Water Supply and Sanitation, Prem Bahadur Singh, to the newly named Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation.
The Sector Efficiency Improvement Unit sees the establishment as proof of the commitment of the Government of Nepal to be serious about raising the quality and performance of water supply and sanitation services in the country.
The 2015 Update of the WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), reports that 92% of Nepal’s population have access to improved drinking water, and 64% have access to improved sanitation [inclusive of 18% shared toilets].
The 2014 MICS survey and the DWSS database, suggest that there has been a significant acceleration in sanitation progress both in terms of access to improved sanitation and, very importantly, a substantial decrease in open defecation. atthe end of 2015, out of 75 districts, 27 claim ODF status. And from 217 towns, 81 have declared ODF. Still a good way to go, to ensure sustainability, move towards total sanitation, and take care of fecal sludge. Embedding good hygiene behaviour will take time as well, but it is certainly improving.
The sustainability of drinking water systems is a priority concern for the sector. According to DWSS data for 2012, just 25% of water schemes were functioning well; 36% need minor repair, 9% need major repair, 20% need rehabilitation, 9% need reconstruction, and 1% are non-functional. The underlying causes of the low rates of functionality can be attributed in part to inadequate management of operation and maintenance. Just 31.5% of schemes have a Water Supply and Sanitation Technician (WSST), only 37.9% of the schemes have registered Water and Sanitation Users Committees (WSUC), and less than 5% have an O&M fund.
The safety of the drinking water is another issue that must be addressed. The 2014 MICS survey included water quality testing and found that 71% of drinking water sources, and 82% of household stored water were contaminated with E.coli (≥ 1 cfu/100ml).
And lastly there is the issue of equity of access to water and sanitation services, which varies significantly according to location, wealth quintile, ethnicity, and level of education. For example, the 2014 MICS survey finds that access to piped water in the household or yard is 55% in the wealthiest population quintile, compared to 16% in the poorest quintile; open defecation is practiced by 39% of households with no education versus 8% of households with the highest level of education, and open defecation is much more widespread in rural areas (31%), than urban areas (6%). Access to improved drinking water in the Mid-Western Mountain and Mid-Western Hill regions lags behind other regions by around 15%, and with regard to improved sanitation it is the Eastern Terai and Central Terai regions where least progress has been made.
About SEIU - The Sector Efficiency Improvement Unit (SEIU) was established in 2009 within the Ministry. It is responsible to promote sector coordination, policy development, information management and communication, and provide guidance and information on water supply and sanitation programmes of the Government of Nepal. It is a unit of the Water and Environment Division of the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation (earlier Ministry of Urban Development).
The tragedy of the April 25 earthquake has caused damage to many of the water supply systems in the affected districts. According to a recent assesment by DWSS/NMIP, out of 11318 registered projects in the most affected districts, some 4530 have suffered damage. Around 52% will require external (government) support to restore service. 19% of the schemes are currently assessed to require full rehabilitation, while 29% somehow continue to supply water but need local repairs to bring back full service. Several NGOs have revisited their earlierprojects and are offering support. For instance, Gorkha Welfare Scheme is providing assistance to the 88 schemes out of its portfolio of 1400 schemes that have suffered damage due to the earthquake. It is understood that repairs may well take several months to over a year depending on the type of damage. In some cases the source has shifted causing the water supply system to become dysfunctional.