Family leadership steps up government WASH efforts

Pahadi family in Nepal recognised for their WASH leadership

Shanti Pahadi’s family, residents of Ward 5 in Birendranagar municipality, Nepal is a community celebrity. Through the family’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) mobilisation efforts, a settlement of landless labourers, including the dalit habitation Shree Nagar_Tole_ (hamlet), was awarded Model Tole. This is their story.

Shanti complimented her entire family for their meaningful support: her partner, Lila Pahadi, and child, Usha Pahadi. ‘I could not sleep after I promised to take the lead,’ said Shanti. Elaborating on how her family members supported in the campaign’s tasks, Shanti shared that Lila was key to the campaign’s mobilisation efforts in Shree Nagar Tole, and Usha managed the special sanitation campaigns at ward level.

Change started at home

The Pahadi family – all daily wage labourers – started from their own home, cleaning their yard, their toilets, segregating waste, and improving their management of menstrual health and hygiene. At the workplace, the family spoke of the benefits of domestic WASH practices to colleagues and shared the immediate impacts of applying simple changes to daily practice.

Not so long ago, Shree Nagar Tole in Ward 5 was the most vulnerable hamlet in the municipality, with high levels of poverty and poor sanitation conditions. Garbage was strewn all over the area. Solid waste management was almost non-existent.

Pahadi family recognised for their WASH services in their village

Pahadi family recognised for their WASH leadership in their Nepali village

A family that led

As soon as the Ward WASH Coordinating Committee (W-WASH-CC) in Birendranagar – co-chaired by Shanti – was reanimated by SNV and its partner Sundar Nepal, a community-led tole-level complete sanitation action plan was drawn up for the ward and Shree Nagar Tole. Beyond the Pahadi family’s participation in the planning exercise,

  • Lila coordinated with SNV and Sundar Nepal on BCC and provisioning of WASH supplies.

  • Shanti encouraged more affluent members of the community to provide materials for constructing toilets for neighbours who needed more support.

  • Usha was invited to chair the Tole Sudhar Samiti ([TSS] Hamlet Improvement Committee) in recognition of her efforts in the community and as a committee member.

WASH behavioural change communications campaign in a village

Village-level behavioural change communications campaign presented by Lila Pahadi

The efforts of the TSS and the Pahadi family had been instrumental in making the tole a WASH-secure place. Every household now has access to WASH services and materials. Households keep their toilets clean, observe good hygiene practices and menstrual hygiene. Improvements in community handling of drinking water are observed. The community now takes care to treat (drinking) water before consumption.

A family that inspired

Inspired by the fast-paced changes he observed at ward level, W-WASH-CC Co-Chair Raj Bahadur Gurung reiterated his committed to support efforts and declare the ward as a complete sanitation-oriented ward during his tenure.

In 2021, the municipality formally recognised the Pahadi family’s efforts in driving the complete sanitation campaign within the municipality.

Contributors: Sabitra Dhakal (Gender Advisor) with Sunetra Lala and Parwati Dangal, SNV in Nepal
More information
[1] Shanti Pahadi serves as an inspiration for transformative change to many of her peers. In addition to demonstrating that women can lead, Shanti’s family is dalit. Dalits are found in the lowest stratum in Nepal’s caste system – which although abolished legally in the 1960s – continues to restrict the spaces for involvement, participation, and social mobility of some people.
[2] This article was written as part of the WASH SDG Prorgramme in Nepal funded by the Dutch government.
[3] For more information, contact our Water team in Nepal by email.