Govt plan stresses need for wastewater treatment plants

Kathmandu, March 12

Nepal has come a long way in improving basic sanitation services with coverage doubling to 62 per cent in 2011 compared to 30 per cent in 2001, says Nepal Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector Development Plan (2016-2030) released by Sector Efficiency Improvement Unit of the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation.

It has already surpassed Millennium Development Goal target of 53 per cent, but only 30 per cent of urban households have toilets connected to sewer systems, while 48 per cent have septic tanks.

However, many of the septic tanks are not designed properly, and there are no systems as yet for faecal sludge management.

“Wastewater management is a major issue as much of the excreta and other wastewater is disposed of without treatment. None of the municipalities have properly functioning waste water treatment system. Only Kathmandu Valley has a few municipal wastewater treatment plants. Of them, three are non-functional and one is functional but is unable to withstand the current load,” says the plan.

There is a wide disparity in the sanitation situation among municipalities. Larger municipalities have better access to toilets but access to sewerage is very low in most of the municipalities.

Hygiene is being gradually mainstreamed as a key component in water and sanitation programmes to maximise public health outcomes, keep people and their environments clean, reduce stigma, prevent spread of diseases, reduce under-nutrition to enhance dignity and improve status as well as well-being of the people.

Most of the urban centres are unplanned, densely populated and are already water and sanitation stressed. Poor environmental sanitation services and highly degraded urban environments are the most visible consequences in the municipalities. Due to lack of effective regulation, untreated sewerage, septage and faecal sludge contaminate groundwater and empty into rivers, polluting water sources and jeopardising public health.