On Friday 17.3.2023 over 100 stakeholders and development partners of the Sustainable WASH for All, SUSWA project, gathered in Birendrangar, Surkhet, Karnali.
In Karnali, many do not have basic public services that allow citizens to be healthy and to thrive, such as water, sanitation and hygiene access. SUSWA, or Sustainable WASH for all, is a collaboration between the Governments of Nepal, Finland and EU to ensure sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene in 42 municipalities in Karnali.
The high-level event was attended by delegates from the Nepal Ministry of Water Supply, the Embassy of Finland, the European Union, the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management, representatives of the Karnali provincial government, local governments from Karnali, development agencies and journalists. The event served an opportunity for the ambassadors of Finland and the European Union to Nepal to discuss with federal, provincial & local government officials in Karnali, as well as for development partners in Karnali to get together and discuss innovation and solutions for safe water supply and inclusive sanitation and hygiene. The event was also an opportunity to kick-off celebration for World Water Day, with commitments to working together for WASH and #beingthechange made by Nepal government at all levels.
The SUSWA Project Support Unit wants to thank all partners, stakeholders and colleagues for making the SUSWA event successful on 17 March, as well as the strong commitments to achieve sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene in Karnali that were expressed.
The session started with breakfast at 7.30 and a Technical session 9-11:30.
The Technical session was attended by Karnali development partners, local government representatives and journalists. The session started with a presentation on inline chlorination, improved sanitation products and sensors by Govinda Rokaya and Narayan Singh Khawas from SUSWA. It was followed-by small group workshops on 1) Safely managed water supply services, 2) Inclusive sanitation & hygiene services, 3) Dignified Menstruation Management, 4) School WASH and 5) WASH Governance. The discussion and group work was facilitated by development partners Karnali Water Activity, Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) , Kopila Valley school, Helvetas Nepal as well as Anita Gyawali from the Ministry of Social Development. Key take-aways were shared at the end of the session as well as during the Formal session, and included for example the following shared targets:
Formulation of WASH Policy (State Level) Management of Subject Manpower (Province Level) WASH Policy Act Formulation, Update and Implementation (Local Level) Institutional Communication Formation Reorganization, Capacity Development and Establishment of WASH Units (Local Level) One house one tap policy and water quality measurement Maintenance of water supply schemes to ensure sustainability and efficiency
During the Technical session, the ambassadors of Finland and the European Union met with the Provincial and Central government and the SUSWA Project Support Unit for a quick meeting discussing SUSWA project during the first 6 months of implementation.
The Formal session was opened by SUSWA Master of Ceremonies, Susmita Giri. The welcome speech was given by the Project Coordination Office representative Devendra Kumar Jha. The Chief Technical Advisor Mario Milanesi of the Project Support Unit (PSU) shared greetings from Niras Finland. PSU specialists Bimal Sharma, Narayan Singh Khawas, Govinda Rokaya and Raju Tirwa shared on current progress for SUSWA outcome areas on Governance, Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene and Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion.
Her Excellency Riina-Riikka Heikka, Ambassador of Finland to Nepal, shared remarks on the continuation of Finland’s long-term support for the WASH sector in Nepal, which started in 1989, over 30 years ago. See a short one-minute clip of the speech below, on the importance of including persons with disabilities, menstruating women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, as well as the importance of ownership among all levels of government and cooperation among development partners.
See a short clip here:
These remarks were followed by Her Excellency Nona Deprez, Ambassador of the European Union to Nepal, and the Director General of DWSSM Ramakanta Duwadi; MoPIEWR Secretary Devaraj Niraula and the Principal Secretary of the Office of Chief Minister and Council of ministers, Gopi Krishna Khanal.
The event was chaired by the Secretary of Ministry of Water Supply, Maniram Gelal, who also closed the session. In his closing speech he highlighted the importance of climate change and disaster risk preparedness in water supply scheme construction, as well as the important role of Provincial government in WASH support for local government and SUSWA. See the end of speech here:
SUSWA innovations and pilots on inline chlorination, water tank sensors, and sanitation solutions were displayed and discussed at the event. More on these in the coming days!
In an effort to also bring rightsholders to the high-level meeting, the images of Stories of SUSWA / WASH were displayed on the walls. Stories of SUSWA is part of SUSWA approach to sharing baseline information about SUSWA working area qualitatively, by sharing stories (and images) told by rightsholders in the municipalities. Videos and images from the International Women’s Day events organized the week before were also projected throughout the event.
Watch a news segment of the event from Sungava TV (in Nepali, speech segments in English) here:
Please see more news articles on the event here:
- सुस्वाले कर्णाली प्रदेशको खानेपानी र सरसफाइ क्षेत्रलाई दिगोपना दिदै, ४२ पालिकामा ३१ मिलियन युरो लगानी गर्ने – WASHKhabar
- कर्णालीमा दिगो खानेपानी, सरसफाई तथा स्वच्छता सम्बन्धी कार्यशाला सम्पन्न – Nepal Press
- कर्णालीमा खानेपानी समस्याको हल सुस्वाले गर्ने, दशवटै जिल्लामा कार्यक्रम लागु हुदै (karnalinews.com)
- सुर्खेतमा दिगो खानेपानी, सरसफाई तथा स्वच्छता सम्बन्धी कार्यशाला सम्पन्न – AKSANCHA
- खानेपानी सरसफाई तथा स्वच्छता आयोजनाको कार्यशाला हुँदै | Jwala Sandesh
- कर्णालीमा सबैका लागि दिगो खानेपानी सरसफाई तथा स्वच्छता आयोजना – Karnalisamaya
We want to thank all participants!
The 20+ representatives of the central, federal and provincial government from Ministry of Water Supply (MoWS), Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management (DWSSM), Federal Water Supply and Sewerage Management Project (FWSSMP) Surkhet, Provincial Ministry of Physical Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources and Provincial Ministry of Social Development, as well as Surkhet District Coordination Committee, Municipality and Rural Municipality Association representatives (DCC, MUAN, NARMIN) and NGO Federation Karnali Province.
The 30+ local government chairpersons, CAOs and officers from 22 municipalities and rural municipalities in Karnali; Hima, Sinja, Kanakasundari, Jumla; Sarkegad, Namkha, Karpunath, Humla; Mugum Karmarong, Mugu; Naumule, Bhwaghwatimai, Dailekh, Bheriganga and Birendranagar, Surkhet, Kumakh, Baghchaur, Darma, Bangad Kubinde, Tribeni, Kapurkot, Siddhakumakh and Kalimati, Salyan; Nalgaad, Jajarkot.
The 20+ representatives of development partners from Karnali WASH Cluster and Karnali Alliance for Dignified Menstruation Management, such as Helvetas Nepal, KIRDARC, UNICEF, SNV Nepal, SAC Nepal, ENPHO, USAID-TAYAR, PLGSP, CAED Nepal, Kopila Valley, OCMC/PCGG, Sundar Nepal, Mid West University, HRDC, CCR Karnali. Thank you also to those who attended online – Niras, iDE and MHM PA!
Also a big thank you to the several journalists who attended, as well as our Master of Ceremonies, Susmita Giri, and everyone else who made the event successful.
A note from the organizer of the event at PSU, Field Specialist:
In the end, 100+ participants attended from the 160+ that were invited, with less than 20 women participants all in all. Of the 12 speakers at the event, 2 were women (and neither were Nepali). Only 10 of the participants were Dalit, Janajati or Thakuri, with the majority (62%) aged between 30-49.
Despite an effort having been made on SUSWA’s part to invite women (e.g., inviting two people from each municipality so that vice-chairpersons could attend), and sending separate invites to WASH Cluster and KADMM members (many of the organizations are the same, but more women staff representing in KADMM), the event and the speakers were heavily male oriented. This is unfortunate as the event also showed division following ‘traditional’ gender lines, with the representatives and specialists from Nepal government, Embassy of Finland, the EU and development partners, as well as the speakers from the SUSWA PSU, all being men, with women having more event-facilitatory roles such as MC, event organizing from PSU and communication (e.g., journalists, photographers). The ambassadors of Finland and the European Union to Nepal were the exceptions to this, and having a young woman from Karnali be the MC of the event is hopefully a clear sign of the direction SUSWA aims to support.
As SUSWA aims to ensure women participation at local government and community level, SUSWA PSU must also look inward and ask ourselves what efforts we must make now to ensure that a similar event 5-years from now will be closer to gender parity, especially when it comes to speaking/expert positions. This can include training and empowering of women vice-chairs and municipality officers, building stronger networks among women working in development organizations in Karnali, but also require SUSWA PSU to look at it’s own staff and e.g., choosing to invite women specialists on topics instead of speaking on them ourselves. A rule to implement for SUSWA staff should be to never participate in all-male panels, and see it as our responsibility to know when we should use our specialist or advisor position to invite a woman expert to take our place at an event.
Efforts made from an environmental perspective was working with Suva Hotel, where the even was organized, to not have any single use plastics (water bottles, cutlery), ensure recycling and to only serve plant based food, apart from one fish dish at lunch. These actions fall short, however, when nearly 20% of the participants flying to and from the event from Kathmandu and the majority of participants using private vehicles to attend the event. SUSWA did already now provide online participation as an option, but during the coming years, we can work harder to make events hybrid so that participants feel they can truly participate (not just listen) online.