Local residents join hands to end water woesPeople volunteer labour for free to repair and maintain decade-old water pipelines to ensure an uninterrupted supply.
Locals of Phidim Municipality have joined hands to repair and maintain a decade-old drinking water supply project to overcome the shortage of drinking water.
The drinking water supply project was inaugurated in the fiscal year 2014-2015 by the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management. But the 22-km pipeline sourcing water from two natural springs—Aatwa and Titawa—to Phidim bazar needs constant repairs and maintenance to ensure a smooth supply of drinking water to around 2,500 households in wards 1, 2 and 4 of the municipality.
Since the authorities always cited a lack of budget for pipeline maintenance, the locals under the coordination of the Phidim Drinking Water and Sanitation Consumer Committee came together to contribute labour.
Surya Rai, a 45-year-old man from Phidim Bazar in ward 1, has been spending his free time since June 2023 helping repair the pipeline when needed.
“Like me, dozens of my friends and neighbours also donate their labour. Phidim Bazar is the district headquarters where the water shortage problem is decades old,” said Rai. “We will do everything to ensure that this water supply project does not fall into disrepair.”
According to Rajendra Adhikari, a local man of Phidim ward 4, the hard work of the locals has started to bear fruit. Earlier a household would have running water on the taps for half an hour in a day. “The water supply was never enough for the residents of the three wards. Due to frequent landslides, the pipes would lay buried under the debris; pipes would lay broken disrupting the water supply,” he said. “But now the locals ensure that the pipeline is safe and take immediate action to repair damages.”
Prakash Gurung, chairman of the Phidim Drinking Water and Sanitation Consumer Committee, said that the budget provided by the government was insufficient, so the consumer committee decided to request the locals to donate labour.
“We started the labour donation campaign from May last year. Security personnel from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police, and Armed Police Force have also contributed labour in the past year,” said Gurung. “So far, around 5,000 locals have also volunteered their labour to the project. As a result, we have managed to build foot trails along the pipelines and have also found five additional natural springs 500 metres from the Aatwa and Titawa springs. The new five springs have also been connected to water supply pipes. Chairman Gurung said that five new springs were found 500 metres up from the previous location while cleaning and working in the area.”
Sapana Tumbapo, a local woman from ward 4 of Phidim who runs a local eatery, said that the locals showed great dedication towards the labour donation campaign in the hope of finding a long-term solution to the water shortage problem.
“We have always been suffering from a shortage of water. However, after the labour donation campaign, there has been no disruption in the water supply. I was on the verge of closing down my eatery due water shortage, but now my business is doing well,” she said. “We get running water on the taps for almost three hours a day which is enough to take care of my household needs. Since there is no shortage of water, now I have even started a kitchen garden where I grow winter vegetables.”
According to Gurung, water supply is regular in all three wards. Taps in ward 1 have running water 24 hours a day while wards 2 and 4 receive water for at least four hours a day. “We are working to supply water round-the-clock in wards 2 and 4 also,” he said. We have improvised by using only stones, timber and other local materials to support the pipeline. We plan to reinforce the support structure once we stabilise the water supply pipes from all seven sources.”