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14 Dec 2015 | News

Expanding Efforts to Revive Koshi’s Drying Springs and Ponds

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Local community leaders from village development committees (VDCs) gathered  2 Decem-ber 2015 in Bhakunde Besi, Kavre for a one day workshop on upscaling the findings of par-ticipatory action research on springs and ponds. The action research was jointly carried out by Nepal Water Conservation Foundation (NWCF) and the International Centre for Integrat-ed Mountain Development (ICIMOD) by mobilising the local communities of Darauni Pokhari and Panchkhal. For the last two years, the research focused on understanding the relation-ship between rainfall, ground water recharge and spring water availability and its implica-tion to rural livelihoods.

The workshop’s objective was to share preliminary findings and to pave a path forward to broadcast findings to the adjoining VDCs of Darauni Pokhari — Chhatre Banj, Purano Gaun and Shyam Patti. Over sixty participants representing municipalities, district development committees (DDCs), VDCs, Nagrik Manch, local leaders, pond conservation committees, women’s groups and local people contributed to the workshop.

Locals from Darauni Pokhari reported the period of drinking water shortage was reduced significantly after the construction of a recharge pond. With the availability of a water tap nearby, the time for fetching water for domestic use was reduced significantly leaving more time for women to care for their children, to work in their homes, or to pursue other income generating activities. There was also an increase in water availability for livestock.

One health benefit that was noticed was in women. There had been an increase in cases of uterus prolapse problems due to women carrying 40 litres of water jar. A reduction in the distance to drinking water sources reduced the problem significantly.

Each ward plans at least one pond per ward in upcoming ward-level planning with at least 30 percent of their budgets dedicated to water conservation projects. It was recommended that the DDC should prepare an inventory of all public ponds and springs.

Local awareness on drying springs and conservation needs is high. Local FM has played a key role in awareness building. The technology in this action research is simple and easily understandable to local people and easily replicable.

Challenges remain in upscaling. With a high demand for pond construction, neither ICIMOD nor NWCF can reach every area. It was agreed the government should take responsibility to replicate the outcomes in neighbouring areas. NWCF and ICIMOD are only able to provide technical know-how and direction for the initial period of out-scaling.

There is a high demand of polyethylene (PVC) pipe and sheeting from the DDC office in Ka-vre. PVC pipes are mostly being used to divert water from springs to individual households and PVC sheeting is used to make individual plastic ponds that are not recharge friendly. It was recommended that the DDC cut such expenditures and use it instead for public pond construction and conservation activities which are sustainable.

Public structures such as a school, a football field and private houses were built on land that were prime sites for public ponds because the importance of ponds was not realised in the past. The acquisition of public land remains a challenge to expanding ponds.

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