Nepal’s Water Woes
- By Sahisna Suwal
is a landlocked nation with the current population of over 27 million
people. As reported by the World Bank, Nepal is one of the poorest
nations in the world with an estimated GDP per capita of US$470.
With a staggering 42 percent of the population
living below the poverty line and only 27 percent
with improved access to sanitation, there are quite a number of issues
facing Nepal. Some of these significant challenges are related to water
pollution and water scarcity.
Water is one of the
basic human necessities but a large proportion of the Nepalese
population is devoid of access to safe and adequate drinking water.
According to the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage in Nepal, even
though an estimated 80% of the total population has access to drinking water,
it is not safe. Those belonging to poor and excluded groups in rural
areas have limited to no access. Many in remote areas have to rely on
small brooks running from the mountains and spend hours traveling to get
water. Still the drinking water available is not always safe as supplied water is often polluted
One of the reasons for this is due to the fact that the surface and
ground water in the Kathmandu Valley is deteriorating by natural and
anthropogenic contaminations. The surface water is polluted by industry and domestic waste along with discharge of untreated sewage
from tightly packed residential neighborhoods. It is without a doubt
that the domestic sewage system is deemed one of the top sources of
water pollution that seeps into rivers and lakes, which are the primary
sources of drinking water. The capital city of Kathmandu is estimated
to produce 150 tons of waste
daily and almost half of this is dumped into rivers and 80 percent of the wastewater
is generated by households. In addition, due to the increasing
population and establishments, surface water sources alone has become
inadequate to service everyone.
In some of the rural
regions of Nepal communities still rely on getting their drinking water
from tube wells. Recently, one of the major concerns in these regions,
especially in the region of Terai, is groundwater contamination from arsenic
The Terai Region contains sedimentary layers of sand, gravel deposits
interlocked with flood plains carried by rivers and is extremely
vulnerable to arsenic contamination.
only 27 percent of the population has access to basic sanitation, those
without access rely on local surface water sources like rivers for
bathing and washing clothes. At the same time, the establishments of
water treatment facilities throughout the urban and rural regions are
limited. As a result, Nepal faces a high number of water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, gastroenteritis and cholera.
with the dry season in the month of March to the end of the rainy
season in September, one is extremely vulnerable to waterborne
illnesses. Coupled with the unhygienic environmental situation, the risk
of food and water contamination is increased. Children under the age of
five are the most affected with an estimated 44,000 children dying
every year in Nepal from waterborne diseases.
demand for water is increasing significantly in Nepal and access to
safe and adequate drinking water is crucial. The public lacks awareness
and education on proper sanitation issues and domestic and industrial
wastewater treatment plants need to be widespread. Nepal struggles to
overcome this obstacle and needs solutions to eradicate this so that its
citizens can live healthier lives.
For more information, contact Sahisna at: