Wake up call

Nepal’s performance on a variety of projects, development exercise, policies, water supply and health services, among others, have time and again skewed far short of targets. For example, parts of the capital city such as Kalimati, Tahachal, Baphal and Baneshwor are reeling under acute shortage of drinking water. The authorities are happy to blame it on poor rainfall and a large floating population whose numbers and water needs are unascertained. Nepal Water Supply Corporation meets slightly above half the total demand of around 21-crore litres per day. Similarly, only eight patients have so far benefited from an anti-retroviral drug programme, which, at the time of its launch nearly three months ago, was hailed as a groundbreaking therapy for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the deadly HIV. In yet another case, a large number of people in the foothills are forced to consume arsenic-laced water, which has a toxic effect on human health. There is very little to cheer about.

It is impractical to expect a project to be implemented without encountering hitches. Usually, a sensible idea withstands the most rigorous field condition. But that seldom happens in Nepal, thanks to poor pre-implementation tests. To blame a floating population for the city’s acute water shortage is to be indifferent to pilferage, leakage and official tardiness. Water harvesting as an idea is an old one, but only a paltry few have embraced it in Nepal. The toxic effect of arsenic has been the subject of discussion for seminars but precious little has been done to mitigate the problems of those forced to drink arsenic-laced water. Anti-retroviral drug therapy launched without proper groundwork has exposed failed enterprises in raising public awareness. Melamchi is a pipe dream and it has just remained that for eons now. Donors have been funding myriad projects but lack of sincerity in execution have made most of them merely an exercise in self-deception. Also, at the heart of it all lies the diminishing values of sharing and caring as self-centric ethos have tended to dominate people’s lives. This is a malady worse than the selective amnesia the government is chronically afflicted with. Government initiatives must not be devoid of edge as many of them are at the moment. It is time for the authorities to wake up to the challenge in all aspects of services offered to the people.