| Aug 22, 2023
How sustainable behavior change in a remote community is introduced through NEWAH’s Water Safety Plan
- by Basundara Gharti Magar
P.K still remembers those dark days of the past when she had to walk at least an hour to fetch just a pot of water. She is still wondering how she had spent those days when there was neither adequate nor safe water to collect at the nearby village. This is the case of all the inhabitants of Nakkaletar, a small village situated in the Rural Municipality of Tinpatan in Ward 1 of the district of Sindhuli. The memories of P.K reveal the pain and sorrow that the communities have been facing earlier in life in shortage of clean drinking water.
The issue was even more prevalent during the monsoon season in Nepal, when floods troubled the region and turbid water flooded the springs and wells, making their water even more inedible and dangerous. But as they didn’t have any other alternatives the communities were still compelled to drink this turbid and contaminated water; incidents of diarrhea, cholera and worms were common.
All this changed last year. With financial support from ‘charity: water’ and technical and administrative support from Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH) the 74 households of Nakkaletar now have personal water points. Already always having had a hard life, they finally got rid of the additional pain induced by drinking water scarcity. The availability of water in each household has made daily life easier and more comfortable for the villagers. In addition, the training delivered by NEWAH according to the Water Safety Plan has changed their health, sanitation and hygiene behavior dramatically.
After the completion of the water project in June 2022, training on safe drinking water was conducted at community level. The participants learned the techniques on how to keep drinking water safe from the point of its origin up to consumption, from the water source up to the water points. They learned about the risk of water contamination and in which part of the water system a higher predominance of contamination lies and what the domestic ways for water purification are.
Additional in-depth discussions on how to assure water quality made villagers realize the importance of safe water management for a healthy life. They were also taught why to be careful with even clean and transparent water, because it might contain microscopic organisms that might cause different diseases.
According to P.K, the aspects of the training, provided by NEWAH, focusing on methods for domestic purification of drinking water included sharing the knowledge on the methods of boiling, chlorination, SODIS and silver chloride filtration. While boiling has proven to be the best way for domestic purification, the other methods are also effective. Discussions were also held on the differences between normal and silver chloride filters. Even though from the outside silver chloride filter may look similar to normal filters their inner bottom of the upper segment is coated with a layer of sliver chloride, which has the capacity to filter and kill microscopic organisms and therefore lead to water purification. This way, when filtered down through candles and reaching the lower segment, the water, now free from organisms, becomes more hygienic and safer to drink.
P.K added, that the silver chloride filter is now used by each household in Nakkletar. According to her, investing in silver chloride filter initially seemed expensive, but has proven cost efficient because it becomes much cheaper on the long run due to the longevity of the filter’s lifespan.
“After the training no cases of diarrhea have been reported in the entire community and those who have received training only drink filtered water.”, P.K added.
The water availability has brought a significant behavior change in Nakkletar and it is seen that the Water Safety Plan has had an immense influence in making the behavior change more effective and sustainable.