Nepal is not usually considered a water scarce country, enjoying an average annual rainfall between 1500mm to 3000mm. However, many parts of Nepal do experience water shortages. Its mountainous character, with very steep active slopes, makes the country increasingly vulnerable to environmental degradation. Deforestation and overgrazing trigger soil erosion and increased surface runoff, causing springs and small rivers to be blocked and not replenished by rain. Due to climate change rainfall is more erratic, exacerbating soil erosion and runoff. Natural springs are the main source for drinking water in the upper hill areas of Nepal. Those springs are located in the lower valleys and often at a long distance. Especially during the dry season, the springs are drying up. This results in serious scarcity of drinking water.
The main governmental actors in water supply are:
Water supply and sanitation policies are in place, as is a National Water Plan to address environmental concerns. Rainwater harvesting is included in these policies and plan, just like it is part of large programmes supported by the government – such as the RWSNN-II. Nevertheless, central planning, policymaking, implementation and monitoring by the Nepalese government are still insufficient. Indeed, policies are hardly implemented, if at all, and to the extent that they are, they often do not reach decentralised levels.
Over the course of many years, rainwater harvesting has been taken up by many organisations (like UN-Habitat, Wateraid, Helvetas SI Nepal, and many more – including RAIN and its partners). It’s being promoted both in rural and urban contexts. Although Nepal is one of the poorest countries in South Asia, there is a strong drive of the people to be self-sufficient. Past rainwater harvesting projects have demonstrated the potential for income generation through MUS (Multiple Use Services) of rainwater harvesting, as well as the willingness of people to take up a micro-credit.
After the implementation of a successful pilot, RAIN and its partners are now working on the business case development of rainwater harvesting. Thanks to the well-developed (micro)-finance sector, as well as the growing interest from the private sector, there is a great potential to mainstream rainwater harvesting in Nepal.
RAIN and its partners promote a variety of technologies, including 6.5m3 jars, but also larger (up to 40m3) above or below ground tanks, open ponds, etc. The focus is mainly on the implementation of roof top water harvesting for domestic use as well as on surface runoff harvesting for MUS: domestic use, biogas production, small scale irrigation and cattle watering. To guarantee the availability of (drinking) water for all these uses, it is now important to concentrate more on the potential of 3R (Recharge, Retention and Reuse of rainwater) at the sub-catchment scale, whereby excess water is buffered to be used and reused during dry periods.
Learn more: contact RAIN at email@example.com.