Village declared ‘open-defecation free’ notes alarming number of dysentery patientsMany villagers in the area have been frequently suffering from dysentery, as the water they drink is feared to have been contaminated
Guddu Rana of Matena in Bhimdutta Municipality-9 doesn’t remember the last time she suffered from dysentery. She was, therefore, taken by surprise when she was recently bedridden for a week due to the illness.
The mother of two said that although this was the first case of dysentery for her, her children were stricken with the disease several times this past year.
And it is not only Rana’s family who has been suffering from the ailment.
Rana’s neighbour Seeta Damai and her family too is suffering from the same disease. Sita’s son Amit has been hit by the disease multiple times. “At first, the disease was cured within a week after some medication,” Sita said, “but as time passed and the disease returned frequently, it took longer to cure and that too only after heavy medication.”
Matena village has around 45 households, but none of them had proper latrines until three years back. But when the villagers finally built one in each house, they were compelled to build it close—less than five metres—to the springwell. Due to lack of enough land, they were compelled to construct latrines close to the water pumps.
Villagers assume that this proximity of the two water bodies has brought about the rapid spread of dysentery in the village.
“No such cases were seen before,” said Rana. “But now we occasionally even see worms in the water.”
According to Kiran Acharya, chief of project at Federal Drinking Water and Latrine Management Project Mahendranagar, drinking water is considered safe to drink only when the wellspring and septic tank are at least 30 metres apart. “Otherwise, it’s likely the water gets contaminated
and carry germs of diseases such as jaundice, hepatitis and dysentery,” Acharya said. “The water is not safe to drink.”
Even though the locals are aware of the unsafe water, they do not have any other option for they have limited land and water sources. Moreover, since most of the families are impoverished, it’s unlikely they will be able to move either the well or the latrine.
The locals, however, have proposed to the ward office that they help them build water taps in the village from the Brahmadev Drinking Water Project, which distributes rainwater stored in its overhead tank.
Kamala Badi, coordinator of the Himal Women Empowerment Centre, said that families are expected to pay Rs 7,000 to bring water from the Project and build water taps, but that is impossible. “We toil hard every day to make a living for our family,” Badi said. “It’s impossible for us to pay that amount. We’d be grateful if the ward office could help us out.”
Ram Nath, ward chair of Bhimdutta-9, said that the ward office is concerned about the problem and has already sent correspondence to stakeholders to make water facility available in the village via Bhramadev Project.
“The budget for the current fiscal year is already spent,” Nath said. “But we are discussing if we could find a solution by making the locals pay the amount on installments.”