Until six months ago, 45-year-old Mamata Bhandari used to fetch water from the nearby Sharda River every day. She had been doing so since she was 15 years old.
But now, with the initiation of a lift drinking water project, she, along with many other villagers, gets water on her doorstep.
“A water project had been initiated in our village during the Panchayat era but it was never completed,” said Bhandari, a resident of Chotre in Kalimati Rural Municipality-1, Salyan. “But now, most households in my settlement have their own water supply line. Our struggle for water is finally over.”
Chotre and Hingbare, two remote villages in Salyan that had been reeling under acute water shortage for 35 years, have finally been connected to the water supply line after the launch of a lift drinking water project in 2019-2020.
The project, which was initiated by the District Drinking Water Office at the budget of Rs 5.5 million, has come as a relief for the 68 households of Chotre and Hingbare in Kalimati Rural Municipality-1.
Previously, a drinking water project had been initiated at Chotre in 1986-87 but the project did not receive any budget after the first year.
“The project received only Rs 50,000 during the first year. That was the one and only time a budget was issued for the water project,” said Babita Oli, another resident of Chotre.
“Since we did not have water supply in the village, we would wake up in the middle of the night to fetch water from the river. It would take us hours to fetch water every day,” said Oli. “I have spent all my life with back pain from carrying so much water for all household needs.”
Fifteen-year-old Purnima Bohara of Chotre said she had to fetch water for the household even before the day began.
“If we did not fetch water on time, we would have to miss school,” the ninth grader said. “But now, we don’t have to worry about that. We can even use the toilet in our house. It has become easier to maintain hygiene and sanitation after the drinking water project came into operation.”
According to Ward Chairman of Kalimati Rural Municipality-1 Ravilal Basnet, the villagers had to suffer for a long time because of the acute water shortage.
“Almost two dozen families migrated from the area because of the water crisis,” he said. “It took us a long time to solve the drinking water problem in Chotre and Hingbare because these settlements lie atop a hill and it was difficult to take water supply lines there.”
The Covid-19 pandemic also caused delays in the operation of the water project, said Padma Raj Devkota, chief of the District Drinking Water Office.
“If not for the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, the project would have been completed much earlier,” said Devkota. “Our plans and efforts for the ‘one house, one tap’ campaign could not materialise earlier due to the pandemic. So far, 40 houses in the villages have water supply connections. In the next two months, all 68 houses will be connected to the water supply line.”