Dakshin Sahipur, a small village near the bank of Karnali River gets flooded every year. Most of the residents here are former bonded labourers, freed after the Government of Nepal abolished the bonded labour system in 2002. The government provided five kattha of land for each family for their sustenance. However, the land provided was prone to flood during monsoon and drought during rest of the year.

Phoolbashni Chaudhary, 45, one of the residents, shared “Every monsoon, our land gets flooded, we lose our crops and more often we are devoid of clean drinking water.” She added, “Our hand pumps get submerged in flood waters for more than a week. Even after the flood recedes, small water beetle like insects come out with water for a month.”

a. Common hand-pump in Phoolbashni’s house. b. Phoolbashni Chaudhary carrying water from raised hand-pump

Hand pump is a major drinking water source in the area. However, due to smaller height it gets submerged during floods. Flood water enters into the hand pump and contaminates the water. After the flood recedes, small water beetles come along with water from the pump and people use the water after filtering through cloth.

The government provides water purification tablets as a relief material after the flood recedes. But due to incomplete information on the use of these tablets, people used to put all the tablets directly into the hand pumps. Khadananda Jaishi, a neighbour of Phoolbashni shyingly said, “We had no idea about the use of the water purification tablets so we used to put the tablets directly in the hand pumps and simply filter the water to remove the insects.” With a smile he added, “Now we understand, why we used to fall sick after flooding.”

Now, the situation of residents in Dakshin Sahipur is different. The community members have constructed an eight feet tall raised platform for the hand pump along with deep boring system for irrigation. They use the hand pump for drinking water during monsoon and irrigation in other seasons. Nepal Flood Resilience Project (NFRP) supported 60% of the cost to build the raised hand pump. Further, NFRP’s Practical Answers Service (Knowledge service of Practical Action) is supporting the communities to develop knowledge and skill in different livelihood sectors by providing relevant training.

With deep boring facility and training, community people have started growing vegetables commercially. Khadnanda Jaishi was able to earn NPR 40,000 (100NPR equals to 1USD) by selling sponge gourds and pumpkins within three months’ time (March to May 2018).

Khadananda and Phoolbashni busy in their vegetable garden

Phoolbashni happily said, “We don’t need to worry about drinking water during monsoon and we are making the best use of it in other months of the year as well.” She added, “We had never thought we will be able to grow vegetables in this dry and sandy soil but now we are making profit of at least NPR 5000 a month. It has really changed our daily routine and life.”