Siddhipur community constructs eco-friendly future
Updated - Wednesday 28 February 2007
Siddhipur, a sleepy town outside the bustling city of Kathmandu is full of excitement. People are digging drains, laying down pipes, building ecological toilets and -most important- crafting their own future. This peri-urban settlement, with just over 6,000 people in 1,308 households, is converting itself into a model eco-community that demonstrates a sustainable and eco-friendly water supply and sanitation system.
The old water system was able to meet less than half the total demand for water and, because of the poor quality, many people, especially children, suffered from water-borne diseases. For ten years, Siddhipur residents knocked on many doors at the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) and District Development Committee to get their system fixed. Now, they have decided to do it on their own, with a little help. The help comes from UN HABITAT Water for Asian Cities Programme (WAC), a local NGO Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), and Water Aid Nepal.
The Siddhipur Integrated Water and Sanitation Programme was launched in September 2005 with support from WAC to demonstrate a fast track approach to community-based water and sanitation. The programme includes a water supply with treatment, improved sanitation, solid waste management and capacity building.
In order to ensure that the system is pro-poor and sustainable, a tariff system has been designed with different rates for private and community taps. The project was prepared with a detailed analysis of the current situation, including gender assessment and poverty mapping, and preparation of technical designs. The local Water and Sanitation User Committee led the project implementation and the community has been actively involved throughout and will be fully responsible for operation and maintenance.
So far, local people have completed construction of the new intake at the Godavari river, laid down the pipe network for transmission and distribution of water, and started constructing the treatment system consisting of tube settlers, slow sand filters and a chlorination unit. Siddhipur residents are also building ecosan toilets that collect faeces and urine separately and starting to recycle them as organic fertilizer. Siddhipur now has more than 100 ecosan toilets, including a few indoor ones, about 150 home composting systems and a plastic waste collection system. Work is under way to construct community toilets and communal septic tanks for people who do not have enough space in their houses or who cannot afford a private toilet. The community also plans to purchase a septic tank sludge cleaning unit to provide a local faecal sludge management service at an affordable price. The sludge will be taken to a treatment facility in Kathmandu for treatment.
Photo: IRC/Dick de Jong
When WAC expressed its intention to offer support, Siddhipur residents demonstrated their commitment to public participation, local ownership and environment quality. They formed a User Group, wrote to DWSS to hand back the old system and purchased a piece of land on which to establish a water treatment facility.
The 11 members of the Siddhipur Water and Sanitation User Committee include three women, one of whom is vice chairperson, and representatives from all major political parities, traditional guthis (socio-religious associations) and the Village Development Committee (VDC). For the past year, the group has been meeting twice a week to discuss progress and plan future activities. Members keep local communities informed about progress and address concerns. Within a week of being offered the opportunity, more than 900 people submitted applications for private water connections, a clear indication of the popularity and reach of the programme. The Committee is raising funds locally for the water supply system (about US$ 75 per household) and encouraging people to construct toilets.
School children are also involved. Nature clubs have been formed in the local schools and the students spread messages on hygiene and sanitation through street plays, rallies and competitions. UN-HABITAT is now joining hands with Water Aid Nepal and other partners, including local government, to replicate this model in other communities in Nepal.
UN-HABITAT Water for Asian Cities/ Dick de Jong, e-mail.
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