Bhirkot locals seek end to water woes

Kathmandu, October 7

More than a year into last year’s devastating earthquake, locals of Bhirkot, a village in Nagarjun municipality-10 of Kathmandu, have been struggling to bounce back with no help from the government .

For anyone visiting Bhirkot, its remoteness might be reminiscent of Karnali, which is one of the most remote districts of the country. Altogether 35 houses located in Bhirkot collapsed in last year’s devastating earthquake. Though donor agencies had been providing some succour, the government has almost forgotten the village.

In the wake of the quake, a team of Oxfam, an international non-governmental organisation, took stock of the situation in the village and launched drinking water, sanitation and livelihood programmes.

The programmes were carried out in partnership with Development Project Service Centre Nepal and Lumanti-Support Group For Shelter. Lumanti Support Group had assisted in the construction of drinking water projects and latrines in the village in the aftermath of the quake.

According to Sushan Maharjan, a social mobiliser of Lumanti, the group had provided one hygiene kit each to all 35 households in Bhirkot.

“Besides distributing hygiene kits, we also conducted various programmes to promote safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in the village,” Maharjan informed, adding that the group also installed three water tanks with 1,000 litre capacity and some 2,000-metre-long water pipe to supply drinking water to the quake-affected village.

According to Maharjan, Bhirkot has also been declared an open defecation free zone after the villagers built latrines in all households. “As for latrine construction, we helped some 692 households in Nagarjun Municipality,” he said, adding that each household was provided with the financial help of up to Rs 5,000 in cash.

Similarly, DEPROSC Nepal helped repair 1.8 km road from Darshankhola to the village that was damaged by the tremor. As per ‘cash for work’ programme, the organisation paid Rs 8,625 to each of 70 locals who worked for 15 days to repair the road.

A local, Krishnaman Syangtan, appreciated the help lent by the donor agencies. “At a time when the state has been oblivious to our plight, donor agencies have come to our aid and it is praiseworthy,” he said, particularly ruing the apathy of concerned authorities towards their plight.

“At least if the road was better, farmers wouldn’t have faced difficulties in taking their produce to the market,” he said, adding, “I’ve heard that the municipality has pledged Rs 5 lakh for road repair, but such a meagre sum is not enough,” he said, seeking government help for a permanent solution to the drinking water woes in the village.