Rainwater Harvesting in Nepal

Project Overview

Empowers a marginalized community in rural Nepal to tackle its water crisis and discrimination against young girls and women. 

Identifying the Problem

Numerous villages across Nepal suffer from acute water scarcity and contamination. Natural sources of water in the form of streams or rivers are often the only source of water available. Pumdibhumdi village is one of the wettest regions in the country, receiving both monsoon and winter rains with an annual precipitation of 147 inches. An unhygienic stream at the foothill was the only available water source in the village.

The villagers not only suffered from water crisis and contamination, but the problem also greatly contributed to the gender-based discrimination that is already rampant in rural Nepali societies. Each day, girls and women had to walk an hour and a half to collect water from the stream and carry it back to the village in buckets on their backs. Several young girls could not even attend the local school because of their interfering obligation to make several of these trips each day, a consequence not faced by their brothers.

Creating A Solution

Shweta wanted to develop a project that would simultaneously address the health problems and the gender-discrimination posed by the water crisis in Pumdibhumdi village. She decided to construct a locally based, sustainable water tank in Pumdibhumdi that would utilize the village’s rich rainwater potential so that the villagers could harvest their own water. 

During the initial phase of the project, Shweta consulted with engineers and experts at Biogas Sector Partnership – Nepal, which works under the RAIN Foundation. While Shweta did not partner with either of these organizations for the implementation of her project, they did provide invaluable guidance, such as helping Shweta develop a more technical understanding of rainwater harvesting and constructing the budget for the project. Shweta also worked with the Department of Water Supply for Nepal to develop the project.

Implementing the project also required a core team of motivated individuals who cared about the cause and impact of the project. The project required writing proposals that supported a locally-based, environmentally friendly, economical and sustainable solution to the water crisis. Shweta developed a budget, applied for grants, fundraised, connected with experts on rainwater harvesting, discussed the project idea with university professors, developed a team of motivated staff, visited and selected a site for the project, had numerous meetings with locals in Pumdibhumdi village, constructed the actual water tank, advocated against gender-discrimination and in favor of educating daughters, and finally, put together an informal evaluation of the project.

Lessons Learned

One of the biggest challenges during the initial stages of the project was to convince villagers that this was not yet another unsustainable "foreign-dollar project" in the country. Shweta found it incredibly important, as well as rewarding, to understand the villagers’ needs instead of forcing a rigid, pre-planned idea of the project on them. It was essential to gain their support and to make them feel like it was their own project and not an interventionist initiative. Finally, it really helped to have the local villagers' input every step of the way, from setting up a village council for the project oversight to receiving their help during the construction period. It made Shweta realize that a strong sense of community and their contribution were key to making this project a success and ensuring proper maintenance of the water system for years to come.

Get Involved!

Shweta intends on replicating the success of the Pumdibhumdi rainwater harvesting project. Once she is back in Nepal, the next step will be to revamp the campaigning and publicizing of the project, with a special focus on the positive impact it had on young girls. She also plans on creating a website where she can document the progress and post pictures and videos of the project. She encourages anyone who is interested to get in touch to see how they can visit the physical site, help in fundraising or find other ways to get involved.

Funding

This project required significant fundraising. By applying for numerous grants from her university as well as outside grants, Shweta raised $8,000. 

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About This Project

HIA Program:

France France 2012

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