International Women’s Day – empowering women like Deepa
Deepa Sayangtang is 40 years old.
She lives with her parents and her daughter in a small village in the Chitwan district of Nepal.
When we visited Deepa’s village to announce a new water source, she was keen to get involved – not just for the benefit of her village, but also to learn new skills.
“I used to work in agriculture land as I had to provide financial support for my daughter’s education. Last year I attended every meeting that The Gurkha Welfare Trust provided.”
She explains that their existing water set-up is far from ideal.
“It is very hard to manage drinking water in our village. We have to depend on electricity to pump the water.
“During the dry season (March-May) it is very chaotic, as we have to dig a well separately to collect the water. During the monsoon period (June –August), there is a presence of mud, earthworms, frogs and insects in our water, which is very hard to purify. Til now, we are using potash (Potassium permanganate) to purify water for drinking purpose.”
Water and Sanitation issues in Nepal
In Nepal 10.8 million people still do not have access to improved sanitation, and 3.5 million lack access to basic water services. Where existing communal taps exist, functionality and water quality remains poor with 71 per cent of all water sources contaminated with E. coli.
Shockingly, open defecation is still practised by 16 per cent of the population.*
Our water projects
Last year we brought clean water to over 30k people’s doorsteps in Nepal. Our projects, delivered in partnership with UKAid, install individual tap stands and toilets for all households within a village.
Once a new village has been identified as a water source recipient, we work closely with the local community to educate them on the importance of good sanitation and teach them about the dangers of infected water
To do this we operate a ‘trainer of trainers’ style scheme for their community, during which we put together a ‘sanitation committee’ which is made up of local residents. Within the committee, we appoint ‘village maintenance workers’ and ‘village hygiene promoters’.
Throughout the building of the new water systems, the team help with construction efforts. Then once we leave it is their responsibility to ensure that the system is well-maintained and that the new sanitation standards are being adhered to.
Our water programme puts emphasis on female involvement in village committees. Women are the prime beneficiaries of these schemes, with dramatically reduced labour hours.
“During the selection process for water committee members, women were encouraged to apply. I was very excited and put forward my name and everyone in the community accepted me to be one of the maintenance workers.
I did not have any experience in masonry or plumbing. I only used to work on farms and was always engaged in household activities. Now, I have developed new skills and I’m learning every day.”
Deepa is especially happy that women were appointed in key roles within the committee and hopes it will set a positive example to her daughter into the future.
“I believe that by learning and gaining new experiences I can overcome the challenges that I have faced in my life.”
“Work should not be gender-focused. Anything is possible if women or men are willing to work actively and equally. I feel proud, privileged and happy about all these achievements, my livelihood and my independence. I think I have been giving something to my community and we will finish this project very soon. Everyone will have access to clean drinking water and there will definitely be marked improvement in sanitation and health status. I feel every woman should be motivated”