The drinking water crisis has become acute in Badikedar Rural Municipality-3 of Doti district after the water sources started drying up. Locals lament that they have been facing acute shortage of drinking water and have also been forced to keep their cultivable land barren.
Phauj Bahadur Paude, 76, of Badikedar Rural Municipality-3 said that the water sources started drying up especially after the 1983 earthquake. “We used to have easy access to water in the past. But the water sources started drying up in the area after the 1983 earthquake. Many water sources have already dried up. We used to have sufficient water for irrigation in the past. Now, we have been compelled to keep our cultivable land barren.”
Local Chakraraj Neupane, 65, of Badikedar said, “We know that the water sources started drying up after the earthquake. But, deforestation and forest fires are other main reasons that led to drying up of water sources. Now, we came to realize that the water sources will dry up due to massive logging. We have to protect the forest if we want to save the water.”
The Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (Nefej) in coordination with USAID had recently organized a program under the Paani Project at Ghangal in Badikedar Rural Municipality-3, Doti to discuss and find out the solution of dryness and water shortage problem in the area.
People taking part in the program said that the problem of water shortage has been growing day by day due to forest fires, open grazing and landslides.
“We even don’t have water to drink and to use in the toilet. We don’t have any idea whether deforestation or increase in the human settlement have led to the shortage of water,” said Jaisara Oli of Bakra, a resident of ward-3.
He said that the locals of Bakra are the most affected people in this area. “We have to walk for more than two hours to fetch water. Toilets were constructed to declare the area Open Defecation Free Zone. But the toilets have not come into use due to shortage of water.”
There is only one water source in the village. But the water source is barely enough to quench the thirst of 22 households.
Kabiram Magar of regional drinking water office said that they have been facing problem to meet the demand of drinking water after the water sources started drying up.
Almost all the people taking part in the program said that the village has been facing acute shortage of water but the Rural Municipality and Province government have not done anything to bail the village out of this problem.
“The survey was carried out time and again in the past for the drinking water in our village,” Lal Bahadur Karki of Gaimada-3 said, adding, “But none of the project has come yet. We feel easy to go to the forest than to the toilet to answer the nature’s call.”
He blamed the haphazard felling of trees for the drying of water sources. Mohan Singh BK, Chairman of Gaudel Community Forest Consumers Committee, said that the forests have been destroyed in the recent time due to treacherous wildfires.
“All should conserve the forest for the water. Various kinds of vegetation have been destroyed due to wildfires. How can we get water without forest?” he questioned.
He said that the forests could be protected if the concerned authority raise awareness among the locals. BK was of the view that the water sources will be preserved if the forests are protected.
Also speaking at the same program, Hemanta Achharya of Tallo Ghangal-3 said that the only water sources in his community is drying up due to the failure to protect it.
Liladhar Sapkota, Chairmanof Badikedar Rural Municipality-3, admitted that Bakra has been facing acute shortage of water. He, however, said that the municipality needs a huge fund to resolve this problem. “Locals are telling genuine problem. Bakre is the most affected village in our ward,” he said.
Saying that more than half of the area of ward-3 has been facing the problem of water shortage and irrigation, Sapkota said awareness programs should be held among the people time after time to protect the water sources like the Nefej does. He said that province and federal government should provide financial assistance to construct recharge ponds to recharge the water.
Saying that he would made an all-out effort during his tenure to resolve the problem of water, Sapkota expressed his commitment to protect the water sources.
He said that everyone should join their hands to protect the water sources as the efforts by only ward chairman and people representatives would not be sufficient.
Thanking Nefej for organizing such an effective program, he urged the institution to organize such programs in the coming days also.
Locals, local representatives, police personnel, teachers and health workers among others were present in the program. During the program, local representatives and concerned stakeholders made five commitments which are as follows:
- Water sources will be protected by installing fence wires around the water sources and also by planting trees
- Water will be taken to the area lacking water sources from the places that have enough water sources with the initiative of ward office
- Ward-3 will bring in new technology to harvest rain water and all should take initiatives from their side to control the wild fires and rural municipality, and province government will help for the same
- Awareness programs will be held to protect water sources and environment
- Open grazing will be banned around the water sources. Recharge ponds and artificial lakes will be constructed in the forests and hills
- Development projects will be carried out by not destroying the water sources