On 13th of May, a team of PHASE Nepal visited Jalbire to attend the first hand-over ceremony of a completed water supply. The water-scheme includes an intake – about 700 meter above the village, 1165 meter pipeline, a reservoir tank of 14,000 litre in reinforced concrete and 6 tap-stands. Thanks to Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, 490 people in Jalbire will have access to drinking water in the vicinity of their homes. This reconstruction project is 1 of the 76 water schemes that are being built or rebuilt with financial support of Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe in 6 villages (VDCs or village development committees) of Sindhupalchowk, a district highly affected by the earthquakes that hit Nepal last year. In the afternoon, all staff involved in the WASH-project came to Jalbire from their project areas to attend a meeting, conducted by Rudra Neupane, programme manager. In each village, the team includes 3 members: a wash technician, a social mobilizer and an OJT – on job trainee of the Jiri technical school. A logistic officer and experienced supervisor are also in the project area to follow up on the supply of materials and supervise the construction of reservoir tanks.
Rudra Neupane (programme manager), Aliza Bhandari & Keshav Mahat (water, sanitation and hygiene engineers) and Maya Gurung (communications manager) travelled to Jalbire, around 85 kilometres from Kathmandu to attend the hand-over ceremony and meeting.
As on previous visits, we received a warm welcome by the DWUC – drinking water users committee – in Jalbire. The group is active and always smiling. Lal Bahadur Karki, member of the committee and local teacher, walked with us to the water source, about 30 minutes from the village to see the water intake. Rudra and the engineers discussed what could be done to protect the source and keep it clean from falling leaves. Protection of the water source is the first step in keeping the water supply going to the village and will guarantee a continuous supply of clean drinking water to the community. We walked down towards the village, following the pipelines that are feeding the reservoir-tank, made of reinforced concrete. The new tank can contain 14,000 litres of water and is next to the old tank that was damaged by the earthquake of last year. A small ceremony took place with all the members of the DWUC present and Rudra officially inaugurated the water-supply.
After this part, we walked around the village and checked if the water-supply to the 6 taps was successfully working. They all did!
The official part consisted of speeches by different members of the DWUC and Rudra. Chief Guest for the programme was Kusmakhar Sapkota, secretary of the village development committee of Jalbire. Everybody spoke about the importance of access to drinking water and the impact of the earthquakes on the daily lives of the members in the affected communities. All agreed that restoring of water-supply – together with school and health facilities rebuilding – were of utmost importance and should be given priority. The committee expressed their thanks to PHASE Nepal for fast implementation of the work, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe for their financial support and all members of the committee for their help and participation.
After a delicious lunch, offered by the DWUC, the meeting started around 2pm with all PHASE-staff involved in the WASH-project in Sindhupalchowk (VDCs/villages covered by the project are Jalbire, Hagam, Fulpingkot, Baramchi, Selang and Pantang). The purpose of this meeting was to give the staff an opportunity to talk directly with the management and speak about the challenges they are facing while working in the communities. Main challenges that were mentioned were the supply of materials, demands of the DWUCs, time pressure as reservoir tanks and piping work should be complete before start of the monsoon and the risks that roads would become impassable after the rainy season started. Aliza, WASH engineer, explained to the team how to conduct the water quality test to make sure that the water-sources are providing clean and safe drinking water for the communities.
Rudra ‘sir talked about the importance of every member in the team and that the OJTs should take this opportunity to learn from their more experienced supervisors and the technical team. To keep the work going smoothly the whole team should coordinate properly and work together in mutual respect. A discussion with the logistic team took place to discuss the complicated logistics of supplying materials to the more remote villages.
We returned back to Kathmandu around 4pm in the afternoon. On both sides of the road between Jalbire and Balife (around 10 kilometre), I noticed the green fields of corn. Though the situation is still harsh in the Jalbire and most of the people are still living in temporary shelters, at least they were able to plant the fields so there will be corn to feed the families. Corn is an important part of the diet in the middle hills in Nepal, as well for people as for livestock. The corn is grounded to flour and made into bread or eaten as “dhindo” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhindo). Corn and corn stalks are also used to feed livestock in winter.