Various livelihood opportunities are promoted to ensure that the communities make optimum use of the drinking water and sanitation services. Improved water access and sanitation services lead to a reduced incidence of water-borne diseases, decreasing the cost of health care and an increase in disposable family income. Additionally, the daily workload is reduced, saving time for productive activities. One of such activities is kitchen gardening. Users establish a kitchen garden in their homestead and cultivate seasonal vegetables and perennial crops, making use of wastewater generated from their kitchen to irrigate the garden. The kitchen garden not only provides the household with a continuous supply of seasonal vegetables but also helps address the hidden hunger known to cause malnutrition among children. Some households even manage to make extra income by selling surplus vegetables in the market. Commercial vegetable farming and livestock raising are other popular activities that user households have opted for. NEWAH provides technical, material and financial support, whenever feasible, for households to improve their livelihood and diversify the activities.
Many of the capital-intensive livelihood activities such as commercial vegetable farming and dairy processing are supported by saving and credit (S&C) schemes, established by utilizing the operation and maintenance (O&M) fund collected for the sustainability of drinking water supply and sanitation schemes. The S&Cs serve as an important microfinance center, providing mostly small loans for agriculture, micro-business development, and emergency household expenses, and collecting a nominal interest on the loans that are added to the O&M fund. S&Cs have been mainstreamed in several NEWAH supported water supply and sanitation projects.
As NEWAH’s President has been highlighting this very important challenge for the past few years, NEWAH is aware about climate change and its possible effects on WASH projects (past and future). NEWAH is building its capacity to deal with emerging challenges introduced by climate change and its effect on people’s lives, as well as water and sanitation systems.
The actions undertaken in relation to this are: the initiation of Disaster Risk Reduction Programme in two WASH projects in Lewa and Kapedada of Jajarkot district with the support of Concern Worldwide Nepal; NEWAH’s engagement in piloting for Local Adaptation Plans for Action (LAPA) to climate change to contribute to the local development planning. Based on the learning from the pilot NEWAH completed with the support of Climate Adaptation Design & Piloting – Nepal Project in 2010, NEWAH will gradually improve its policy and strategy to address such challenges in NEWAH supported water supply and sanitation projects.