As usual, annual UN reports dealing with various sectors have been a source of disappointment for Nepal this year, too. Firstly, according to a November 10 report, Nepal has slid by two positions — from 136th to 138th — in the global ranking of human development. Secondly, as this year’s highlight of the UN Human Development Report 2006 is water crisis, Nepal lags far behind in this respect, too, by not being able to make available a daily minimum of 20 litres of clean water to each of its citizens. Regrettably, only 35 per cent of Nepalis have sustainable access to improved sanitation. This falls far short of the target of hitting 90 per cent by 2015.

Most of the child deaths due to diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases in the country could be avoided by making safe drinking water accessible to them and constructing low-cost toilets, which have become popular in Nepal’s neigbourhood. Reprioritisation is also required in terms of allocation of internal and external resources to meet the sanitation needs of the people. Cost-free technology like the Solar Disinfection System, which purifies water through exposure and aeration of drinking water in sunlight for 48 hours in plastic bottles, needs to be popularised. Then the bio-sand filters are equally cost-effective and handy for the poor communities. The National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Policy is crying for a shot in the arm if the government’s as well as the Millennium Development Goals are to be met.