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About Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation

Effective, sustainable and quality service delivery is the expectation of the people. The duty of service delivery of various tiers of governments under federal system of governance has been constitutionally spelled out. Water and sanitation facilities have been recognized as fundamental rights of the people in The Constitution of Nepal.

Water supply and sanitation sectoral policies, acts, rules and formation orders are the legal basis for functioning of the Ministry. Water supply and sanitation related functions were seen as shared responsibility of the central and local levels as per the provisions of Local Self Governance Act 1999 where as incumbent Constitution has also vested this function in all of the three tiers of governments.

The Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) under this Ministry, with responsibility of planning, implementation, operation, repair and maintenance of water supply and sanitation systems through out the country, is the lead implementing agency of the WASH sector where as the Ministry is the lead executing agency. Apart from the Department, there are Boards, Water Supply Corporation, Committees, Project Directorate and Water Tariff Fixation Commission as regulatory body for the urban water and sanitation services delivery.

Nepal has already met the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) targets set in WASH sector as the result of the joint collaborative efforts of all sector actors and led by the Sector Lead Ministry during the last decade. The Ministry is now striving towards achieving the National Target of "Basic water supply and sanitation facilities for all by 2017".

Similarly, the Ministry is also engaged in finalizing a "15 year Development Plan of Nepal WASH Sector" aligning it with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as declared by the United Nation's General Assembly for coming next 15 year period. 

The Government of Nepal has instituted the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation on 24th. December, 2015. The establishment of the new Ministry has coincided with the moment when Nepal WASH sector is becoming vibrant day by day and Nepal is achieving and committed to put due efforts to achieve many national and international set goals and targets in water, sanitation and hygiene, intended towards betterments of peoples' living standards. Immediately after its establishment, the Ministry has initiated to draft new policies and legislations as well as revisions of existing sector policies and legislations in line with the recently promulgated Federal Constitution of Nepal.

As per the revised Work Division rules (BS 2072) of Government of Nepal, the scope of works vested in the Ministry is as follows:

  1. Water supply and sanitation related policy, formulation of plans and programs, implementation, monitoring, regulation and evaluation;
  2. Water supply, sanitation and sewerage;
  3. Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board;
  4. Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani (Valley Water Supply) Ltd.;
  5. Kathmandu Valley Water Supply & Sanitation Project Implementation Directorate;
  6. Nepal Water Supply Corporation;
  7. Melamchi Water Supply Development Board and Melamchi WS Project;
  8. Water Supply Tariff Fixation Commission;
  9. Administration of Sanitary Sub-Group/Civil Group of Nepal Engineering Services;

 

The recent surveys reveal that there has been a significant acceleration in sanitation progress both in terms of access to improved sanitation and, very importantly, a substantial decrease in open defecation. Still a good way to go, to ensure sustainability, move towards total sanitation, and take care of fecal sludge in urban areas. Embedding good hygiene behaviour will take time as well, but it is certainly improving.

The sustainability of drinking water systems is a priority concern for the sector. The underlying causes of the low rates of functionality can be attributed in part to inadequate management of operation and maintenance. It is reported that around one third of the schemes have a Water Supply and Sanitation Technician to take care of the scheme, alsmost same number of the schemes only have registered Water and Sanitation Users Committees, and less than 5% of the schemes have an O&M fund.

The safety of the drinking water is another issue that must be addressed. The issue of equity of access to water and sanitation services, which varies significantly according to location, wealth quintile, ethnicity, and level of education is also an issue to be addressed.

Reaching the unreached population is another issue in the sector. Though different sources have reported differently on the unreached, it is estimated to be in the range of 7-15%. They can be anywhere irrespective of ecological zone, and urban or rural area. No debate that there should be strong mechanism to reach to them. The future plans and programs have to focus on this aspect along with others. Budget planning is a must but all should also feel social responsibility to find unreached, analyze their situation and collectively apply their effort to provide their basic need of WASH. Only having addressed all of these issues, the dream of having "Sanitation and Water for All" by 2017 will come true.

 

Historical Background:

History of piped water supply system development in Nepal dates back to 1895 A.D., when the first Bir Dhara system (1891-1893) was commissioned in Kathmandu by then rana Prime Minister Bir Sumsher. The system also led to establishment of Pani Goshowara Adda (The office for water supply) and it provided limited private and community standpipes in few selected parts of Kathmandu. The water supply services were then gradually extended to few other prominent places like Amalekhgunj, Birgunj, Palpa and Jajarkot Khalanga where either the rana rulers themselves or their family/relatives resided.

Till then the sector started to receive a fair priority since the First Periodic Development Plan of 1956-61. But the sector activities were placed still under the Department of Irrigation for a long while until the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) was formally established in 1972. The Department itself was housed under the then Ministry of Water Resources. The sector was largely guided by the policies and programs as pronounced in the periodic and annual development programs of the Government. No sector policies and legislations were at place.

In mid eighties, the water supply sector was brought under the newly established Ministry of Housing and Physical Planning (MoHPP) which after few years was reinstituted into the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW). During this period the sector succeeded in developing essential policies and legislations. In the mean time sanitation also was given due focus along with water supply. Concept of integrated water supply and sanition projects (WatSan) was introduced and stand alonesanitation program was also launched. Later hygiene component was also started to consider as integral component part of water and sanitation interventions (WASH).

In 2011 the MoPPW was further splitup and the WASH sector was placed under newly formed Ministry of Urban Development. Even then WASH sector was seen as matter of secondary primacy. There was demand for dedicated Ministry for Water and Sanitation from the sector and was reflected through the resolutions of the Joint Sector Reviews (JSR 2011 and JSR 2014) of Nepal WASH Secor.