Water projects 2002 - 2009

Since 1997 and the beginning of the Friendship Clinic Nepal, we have kept meticulous data on all our patients we have seen. Especially the region/area from where they have travelled (as our catchment area is spread over 150 sq. mms) and what they were suffering from. After a comprehensive 5-year study, a disturbing pattern emerged. 38% of all our cases seen and treated (diseases ranged from cholera, typhoid, dysentery, arsenic and lead poisoning to infections of the skin, eyes and mouth) could be attributed to unclean/contaminated water, infected with high concentrations of faecal coliform, arsenic and/or lead. This worrying feature prompted us to seek guidance from the local village elders, NEpalase Water And Health (NEWAH) and their partner WaterAid.

Each year 2.2 million people die from diseases directly related to drinking contaminated water. Not only do poor people in these circumstances contract killer diseases, but they also have to spend a large part of their day, walking long distances to collect water. Often this task falls to women and children; therefore the women are unable to do other important tasks, whilst their children do not attend school. Worldwide, diarrhoea alone claims the lives of 6,000 children a day. These children die because they do not have any access to clean water and are not educated in the practices of personal hygiene.

After a comprehensive study in (commissioned and paid for by the Charity), it was concluded that an ambitious project (conducted over 9 years) would be undertaken – the aim was to sink over 500 water wells and build over 4500 sanitation units (toilets). This would populate all the Wards (designated village districts within the Village Devotement community (VDC) of Meghauli with: a deep or shallow tube well (an uncontaminated water source, certified below the levels required by the World Health Organisation WHO) and a specifically designed and build toilet – one per household. Before any of the building work would commence, a comprehensive teaching program (between 12 – 18 months) would be undertaken to raise the level of awareness of health and hygiene issues/practices, and educate them about the ‘new technologies and ideals’ that will take them away from the old practices practiced by the forefathers - leading to a better life, both medically and in longevity. This program was delivered by NEWAH, under their WATer SANitation and Health initiative (WATSAN) with the help of the Clinic nurse Chunmaya Thapa.

The project started in late 2002, with the WATSAN program conducting all the teaching and training to the area known as Jitpur. With the first well sunk, and toilet built in 2004.

Nepal counts 3,913 village development communities, of which thirteen have been declared a ‘no open latrine' zone. On the 20th April 2009, Meghauli became the only one of these communities to have achieved FULL sanitation, a unique occurrence in Nepal! This fantastic achievement was broadcaster on the National Television Network. This was due to seven years of cumulative efforts between Friendship Clinic Nepal, Water Aid UK and Nepal Water and Health (NEWAH) to install clean water pumps, wells and toilets to meet the needs of the Meghauli residents. Meghauli consists of 2,861 households with a population of 16,545. Before this project was implemented there were only around 400 toilets in existence and open defecation was common practice, and the majority of the townspeople drank water from natural sources, usually groundwater. 38% of illnesses were thought to be associated with waterborne diseases and open defecation was a serious health risk. Now all 2,861 households have a toilet. A total of 246 hand pumps and 7 ground wells were installed with each pump supplying clean water to between five and ten households. Since its completion, the positive impact of these changes on the health of the local population has been evident in the clinics’ annual disease records. The local community is now managing the Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation project; however, as on-going support, we continue to monitor the facilities installed, checking that they are still working efficiently and that they are being used effectively.