Huslangkot finds happiness
In a detailed vulnerability assessment conducted by the Hariyo Ban Program, Huslangkot was identified as one of the most vulnerable regions due to its water scarcity. During the assessment, locals shared how their troubles seemed to be escalating each year – the summers were hotter every time they rolled around, leading to water sources drying up quicker. Their biggest problem was that the women and children of approximately 35 households had to travel downhill to the Kotle River to fetch water each day. Seventy year old Durmati Gurung, whose house is at the top of the hill, remembers how she got up at 4 am each morning in her search for water. “I’ve lived here since my marriage, and this is a lovely place except for our constant difficulties with water. All of us got up at dawn and trudged downhill and then trekked back uphill with water in our dokos. But that was barely enough for drinking,” she says.
Then her face breaks into a smile as she points to the communal tap just beside her door. “Now I can go out and fetch water anytime I want. It is like a miracle,” she quips. This transformation was brought about through the Community Adaptation Plan of Action (CAPA) prepared with the support of the Hariyo Ban Program. The CAPA identified a drinking water system as the top priority in Huslangkot. In order to address the water deficit and enhance the adaptive capacity of the community, the Rural Energy Fund developed the ‘Kotle Khola Rural Solar Drinking Water Project’, which pumps water from the Kotle Khola stream up to the village with a solar pump. Technical and financial support was provided by the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), the Rural Energy Fund, and the Hariyo Ban Program.
In a matter of months the solar panel, intake reservoir tank and distribution tank were constructed. Seven taps have been constructed throughout the village, and the community continues to marvel at the accessibility of drinking water. “I have a family of five, and we have enough for drinking, washing and cooking. In fact, we even have water for irrigation, and I planted tomatoes, onions, gourds and cucumbers. Who would have believed we could plant vegetables in this barren land!” says Durmati. In fact, Durmati proudly states that the tap was constructed on land that she owns.
Durmati’s neighbor, Aas Bahadur Gurung, is 70 years old and equally relieved about the change in the community. “To help out my wife, I used to get up at sunrise and fetch around 50 liters of water each day,” he says. “I remember once I brought up water and then went to visit my in-laws, who were still sleeping at eight in the morning. I was so jealous!” Ram Bahadur Thapa, chairperson of the drinking water project, says, “Our children could not go to school on time as their mothers would return late with the water and had no time to cook. But thanks to the continuous water supply, there are no such hindrances any more. Our entire community feels blessed.”
Along with the water supply, the community took part in several other climate change adaptation activities. The Siddathani CFUG was awarded first prize by the Western Region Forest Directorate for its outstanding contribution to conservation and the development of mountain ecosystems and local livelihoods. The award was presented during the celebration of International Mountain Day in December 2013 in Pokhara.
Huslangkot is one example of Hariyo Ban’s work to improve community access to water. Water is at the heart of every community, and increasing climate variability along with changes in land use are affecting water supplies in many places. In order to promote climate resilience, it is important to ensure that vulnerability to drought and disease are reduced through a clean water supply. For a community whose chief vulnerabilities were identified as water shortage and drought, Huslangkot has been helped a lot in its journey towards climate change adaptation.
By Richa Bhattarai, Communications Officer, WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program
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Disclaimer: The Hariyo Ban Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of WWF and its consortium partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.