Scaling up lessons for better water and sanitation programming in Nepal

students washing their hands with soap

WASH SGD Consortium partners SNV in Nepal, Plan International Nepal, and WAI Nepal working together to support Government of Nepal’s WASH SDG 6 ambition.

WASH SDG Consortium partners held their first national-level learning and sharing workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal in March 2022. Participants from government, INGOs, NGOs, and the private sector came together to reflect and share ideas and lessons learnt. The one-day workshop was organised in four sessions, completed by a panel discussion with insights on:

  • The municipal WASH plan development process

  • Improving the functionality of water supply systems

  • WASH in schools and health facilities

  • Delivering WASH services

WASH SDG learning event in progress

WASH SDG learning event in progress

The municipal WASH plan development process session explored Nepal’s WASH challenges related to limited technical expertise, insufficient resources, geographic terrains, and data quality and availability on gender equality, disability, and social inclusion (GEDSI). Based on the collective’s analysis, the following recommendations were offered:

  1. Implement capacity strengthening activities on WASH planning and formation at local levels.

  2. Develop a multi-stakeholder memorandum of understanding that sets the terms for co-financing and technical support, in addition to delineating roles and responsibilities.

  3. Designate a focal person within municipalities and set-up a separate WASH unit.

  4. Collect GEDSI data during focus group discussions and when engaging in other relevant research methods, adding local level indicators identified as needed.

Asset management tools presented by Mr Serish Dhital from Smart-Tech

Asset management tools presented by Mr Serish Dhital from Smart-Tech

HealthCare Waste Management – approach and outcomes shared by HECAF 360

HealthCare Waste Management – approach and outcomes shared by HECAF 360

To initiate an effective WASH planning process, it is important to assess gaps in local government in terms of institutional capacity, investments and managing the information.

Mr Raji Ojha, Senior Divisional Engineer, Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management and National Director, Nepal Water Supply and Sanitation Training Centre

With a focus on improving the functionality of existing water supply systems in Nepal – most of which were not fully functional – participants identified the challenges of lack of ownership, weak technical capacity, and financial constraints as critical impediments.

Improvements in asset management, such as tariff determination, record keeping, risk identification and financial planning, were presented to prevent water systems from falling into disrepair. Tools to facilitate asset management were demonstrated, including through a mobile app, an online dashboard, and an e-learning module.

The WASH in institutions session highlighted progress in schools and healthcare facilities’ (HCFs) access to basic water, sanitation, handwashing facilities, and waste management thanks to the WHO-developed WASH facility improvement tool (FIT) tool in HCFs and the SMART schools’ approach.

HECAF 360, an innovation partner in Nepal, shared issues related to healthcare waste management, such as the reuse of syringes and the unsafe disposal of hazardous waste. Stakeholders learnt that safe and sustainable healthcare waste management is an emerging need in Nepal, which requires increased focus.

Importance of Fecal Sludge Management shared by Raju Shrestha, SNV in Nepal

Importance of Fecal Sludge Management shared by Raju Shrestha, SNV in Nepal

During the sustainable delivery of WASH products and services session, WAI Nepal shared their approaches in strengthening public-private sector linkages to enable WASH service delivery. Other presenters described the features of operating and maintaining a faecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP) and how to best monitor and assess performance. Finally, SNV in Nepal summarised the challenges of urban sanitation, raising critical issues for attention including the occupational health and safety of sanitation workers, on-site faecal sludge management options at the household- or community- level, and the investments needed to upgrade pit latrines that complement FSTPs.

The workshop provided an important space for participants to share insights, challenges and solutions across the WASH SGD Consortium and learn from each other. Similar events are needed in the future to bring stakeholders and agendas together and keep the momentum toward WASH SDG targets.

Writer: Manima Budhathoki, Inclusive Change and Behaviour Change Advisor, SNV in Nepal
Photos: SNV Nepal