The Australian Ambassador to Nepal, HE Susan Grace, inaugurated the Dhaneri Water, Sanitation and Health project in Lekgaun VDC, Ward No 5, of Surkhet district, on Wednesday 7 September, 2011.
The Australian team included Nepal's Head of AusAID, First Secretary Ben Reese, Senior Program Manager, Nastu Sharma, and Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, Jessica Roberts. They were accompanied by the Director of NEWAH, Umesh Pandey, and the WaterAid in Nepal Country Representative, Asutosh Tiwari.
The Dhaneri project was completed at the cost of NPR 36 lakhs (AUD$48,000). NEWAH provided 85 per cent of the funds and technical support for construction of the drinking water scheme. In addition, 28 latrines were constructed and training was provided to local beneficiaries.
Inaugurating the project, Ambassador Grace said that this AusAID program was built on the principle that access to safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation was fundamental to human development and transforming lives in Nepal. It would help the Government's efforts towards achieving MDG 7, which aims to reduce by half the proportion of people living without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015.
Ambassador Grace expressed her hope that the Surkhet District Development Committee's plan to declare the district open defecation free by 2015 would be achieved. Currently, 71.5 per cent of the families have access to improved water. However, only 52.3 per cent of the families in the district have access to toilets. Diarrhea has been reported as the most common disease in the district.
The Australian team also visited the Baddichaur Sub-Health Post and held discussions with Female Community Health Volunteers, as well as the local Janajyoti Primary School where they met teachers and students.
AusAID has funded NPR 22.5 crore (AUD$3 million) for the NEWAH Program in Doti, Surkhet, Udayapur and Siraha districts. The 20-month NEWAH project, which ends in December 2011, will directly benefit 28,900 people.