| 16-04-2019

Access to Water Changes Lives of Chepang

Shyamedanda (Dhading)

Kul Bahadur Chepang first time earned Rs. 20 thousand rupees selling his vegetables which was beyond his imagination. Other members of the Chepang community are also engaged in vegetable farming and generating income. Their livelihood transformation has been possible when the community people able to claim and access right to water in the mid of 2018.

The community people used to face water scarcity, spend many hours fetching from far, school going children dropped their education and were living without adequate supply of water for many years. Now, they are enjoying their right to water for daily needs. Rest of the water after daily use is supporting the livelihood of the community through vegetable farming. The time spent to fetch water is now saved for income generation activities. The community able to afford basic needs like food, clothes, health, etc. School going children continued their education. They are experiencing changes in their lives along with limitless happiness.

“We are able to access adequate water and started cultivating potatoes, cilantros, garlic, seasonal vegetables and most of us earning from the cultivation”, says Resham Chepang. “Our children attending school which they missed in early days seeking and fetching water for daily use”, he continues.

“FIAN Nepal raised awareness and understanding of unity to claim our right to food. We are able to organize in a group with strengthened capacity for advocacy actions”, says Lal Bahadur Chepang. “We are delighted with the changes in our village. There is sufficient water for everyone and thus vegetables in our kitchen gardens”.

The scarcity of water in the village was a year-round problem. Most village dwellers waking up before sunrise every morning and spending hours walking and standing in queue just for a bucket of water. Even though, the water does not last for all family members for all needs. Ms. Sangita Chepang, one of the member of the community and elected ward member of local government of Gajuri Rural Municipality, actively engaged for advocacy to address the issue. “There was continuous stress among us for how to get water easily”, remembers her struggle for water. “Because of FIAN Nepal, we gained knowledge of our rights, advocacy skills”.

FIAN Nepal initiated working with the community and initiated casework in 2015 through case documentation, capacity strengthening activities like orientation, training, advocacy, institutional development, leadership, etc. to make them able to lead their issue and claim their rights. This helped them to establish linkage with the government and non-government organizations. “We started to put our demands in front of local to central level government and line agencies to facilitate and solve drinking water issue. Honorable Member of Federal Parliament Mr. Rajendra Pandey visited us and sincerely listened our problem”, says Ramhari Chepang, Secretary of the community RtF Group.

Community Leader Ms. Bimala Chepang submitting demand letter to Hon. Member of Parliament Mr. Rajendra Pandey and Chairperson of Gajuri Rural Municipality Rajendra Bikram Basnet

Leader of the group Ms. Bimala Chepang says, “We are illiterate and poor people lack adequate understanding. FIAN Nepal built confidence in us. We could not speak enough in front of new people, now we can talk, discuss our problem and seek appropriate solution. We shared our problems to media people and our story was published”. The community people are grateful Satya Sai Sewa Organization who came forward to support them after their issue raised in media. The organization initiated drinking water project where the villagers also contributed free labor to accomplish the project. “Now there is sufficient water supply for the villagers but there is still more to do. We need to end malnutrition in our community, sustainable use of water supply system, earn money from vegetables for standard living and we are continuous discussing within our community”, says Bimala Chepang.

Community members contributing free labor to complete water tank

Ms. Sabitra Sunar, Member of District Coordination Committee suggests the members of the community to eliminate hunger and malnutrition from optimum use of water through increased vegetable cultivation. Ms. Urmila Regmi, member of District Coordinator Committee is also happy to see positive changes in the Chepang community through right base approach and suggests appropriate use of water.

Mr. Rajendra Bikram Basnet, Chairperson of Gajuri Rural Municipality acknowledge FIAN Nepal’s role in capacity strengthening of Chepang community and praise the efforts of the community. He says the local government initiated “one house one water tap” program to support the Chepang community to ensure their right to water and also willing to provide further support to the community for their better livelihood.

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