Regional workshop on linking WASH and food security in Surkhet, Nepal


ENPHO and RUAF Foundation collaborate in Nepal on the development of innovative linkages between WASH and Food Security (funded by WASTE for the Dutch WASH Alliance). ENPHO is Nepal WASH Alliance (NWA) member and has longstanding experiences with green technologies. RUAF Foundation is thematic partner on the issue of productive use of wastes in an urban setting. RUAF and ENPHO also collaborate with UN-Habitat on the role of urban and peri-urban agriculture and forestry in adaptation to climate change.

In 2011, both organisations organised an assessment and national workshop for WASH alliance on productive re-use of waste in Nepal. The regional workshop in Surkhet is the next step in this collaborative effort. The workshop brought together relevant and interested regional institutions. Some of them also participate in the government platforms on WASH at Regional, District and Municipal levels (RWASHCC, DWASHCC and MWASHCC, the latter being facilitated by ENPHO in Birendranagar, Regional center of Surkhet district). The Director for the Regional Monitoring and Supervision Office for Water and Sanitation opened the workshop, and after an introduction by RUAF and ENPHO on the topic and aim of the meeting, the District Agricultural Development Officers of Surkhet and Dailekh districts and several INGO/NGOs operating in these districts, like SNV, Helvetas, RVWRMP (Rural Village Water Resource Management Project funded by Finnida), NEWAH, Practical Action, and ENPHO and BSP shared their experiences and discussed a common agenda for Surkhet.

While mainly presenting rural MUWS (Multiple Use of Water Services) experiences, interesting new technologies and potential linkages came up to experiment or seek to come to scale with re-use of wastewater, urine separation and re-use (with different types of toilets), composted solid waste, biogas, and in developing organic fertilisers, using human and animal manure.

Important issues discussed were: the pros and cons of subsidies for sanitation (as part of the ODF 2017 campaign) and for chemical fertilisers; the need to involve communities and cooperatives in addition to private enterprise development; the existing prejudices against using human faeces and urine and how to deal with this; actively using the existing multi-stakeholder WASH platforms at Regional, District and Municipal level; and the multiple values of waste.

WASH members visit the vocational training centre in Surkhet to discuss their work with Ecosan, photo by René van Veenhuizen

Continues innovative work on MUWS and on productive sanitation is agreed in a draft work plan of the participants for Surkhet and Dailekh districts. This will be further elaborated by ENPHO and BSP and agreed in the next WASH platform meetings.

Noteworthy is that ENPHO and BSP (with RAIN Foundation, WASTE and RUAF Foundation), will collaborate in Surkhet on integration of Rainwater harvesting, Biogas, EcoSanitation and Productive use in rural and urban areas, amongst which with the Surkhet Junior Technical Agricultural School. This provides interesting opportunities for further outreach, awareness, and training of future extension its and NGO staff.

RUAF and ENPHO agreed on a work plan for 2012 and 2013. In this work they will closely work with other WASH partners and other stakeholders in Surkhet through the WASH Platforms, and with the municipality scenario’s and monitoring will be developed to assure that sanitation systems fit within sustainable development of the city and its surrounding in Surkhet.

Households put in own labour and resources in building their toilet, photo by René van Veenhuizen

The work on sanitation in 2011 (partly funded by WASTE) has been focused on ODF target 2017 of the Nepali government. There is a strong promotion for any kind of sanitation and full coverage, which challenges the discussion on future sustainability (especially in a rapid changing environment as the municipality of Birendranagar). Although households on average provide 50% of total costs (mainly digging and building the super structure of the toilet), the municipality (20 %) and ENPHO (30%) still subsidise the construction considerably. This is inevitable for the poorer sections of Surkhet, and in the light of the enormous impact lack of hygiene can have on food security and economic development. But it also poses challenges to the development of businesses and local financing. This needs strategic discussion on how to combine finance streams to sanitation: from government, local banks and own contributions.

Suman Shakya, ENPHO
René van Veenhuizen, RUAF