UWS Khamare-Drinking Water Project
Many schools in rural Nepal lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation. UWS Khamare which lies in Sankhuwasabha, one of the most remote regions of Nepal was no different. Students used to walk 15 to 20 minutes to reach a nearby water source to drink water and to fill their bottles during lunch break. Few students would bring water filled in their bottles from their houses but it would not suffice them throughout the day.
Access to clean drinking water in schools increases students' attendance as it helps in preventing waterborne diseases, keeping students hydrated throughout the day. Increase in students’ attendance means more time in school and more time invested in students’ education and in building their future.
Nabina Deshar, third batch fellow placed in UWS Khamare shares her struggle of bringing drinking water in the school.
“Drinking water problem is a major problem that caught my attention from my very first day at UWS Khamare. I spent the first three months knowing, observing and understanding the community. By the third month, I had already explored and identified the possible water source that can be connected to the school. I started lobbying with the community, teachers and organization. I had to urge people to come together for meetings and "aam sabha" which always ended with no significant outcomes. I almost lost the hope of bringing drinking water to school. I realized political differences in the community was making it even more difficult. Finding the water source for the drinking water project seemed like a secondary issue. Then, in April 2020, everything changed.”
When COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, UWS Nepal’s first and foremost goal was to ensure all of its children and communities are safe and protected. All UWS schools were supported with necessary COVID-19 protective measures including construction of handwashing facilities in schools and communities where needed. It was then the community of Khamare realized the need for water and sanitation more than ever before.
“After 8 months of lockdown, when I returned back to Khamare, I had a fresh perspective to resume the drinking water project. I firmly took a stand and kept advocating on the necessity of water for sanitization and hand washing focusing on the safety measure of Covid-19. This time, the community gave a positive reaction. With no further delay, I communicated with UWS Nepal and asked for the materials delivery for the project as soon as possible. The whole process of bringing water to school took about a month. 92 People from different households joined hands together. From digging holes to building underground reservoirs in both school and water source, the community members contributed their time and labor.”
Children spend at least 4-5 hours a day at school, and with COVID-19, it becomes the school's responsibility to keep students safe more than ever. And sometimes it takes a village to make it happen.
UWS Nepal has built 38 handwashing stations across its working district, Sankhuwasabha and Gulmi from which 8,356 children and 8,063 community members were directly benefited from WASH facilities through UWS COVID-19 response and interventions.