How to reduce inequalities in access to WASH - Rural water and sanitation in Nepal
Moizza Binat Sarwar and Nathaniel Mason
In this study, we identify and analyse successes and challenges to providing equitable access to quality water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in rural areas of Nepal. We do this with the purpose of identifying entry points for change that can support government and non-government agencies in their efforts to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’ in meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which aims to provide access to water and sanitation for all by 2030.
This report is part of a global study commissioned by WaterAid UK, aimed at understanding plausible pathways of change to promote broad-based and equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. We conducted a political-economy analysis exploring the incentives, constraints and opportunities, with a focus on the poorest fifth of the population. Two other country case studies and a synthesis report are available.
We find that despite modest growth, Nepal has experienced notable poverty reduction in both income and non-income indicators in the last two decades due to an increase in government attention and donor funding for sectors such as health, education, water, sanitation and agriculture, as well as an increase in remittances from Nepalis working abroad. Using the international poverty line of $1.25 per day, the incidence of poverty has declined from 68% in 1996 to 53% in 2004 and 25% in 2011 (ADB, 2013). Not only did Nepal meet its target on halving poverty by 2015 under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but also met targets on infant mortality, under-five mortality and on increased coverage of water supply.
Progress in the expansion of WASH has been linked to Government commitments to international agreements such as the MDGs and the UN Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-1990), which drew finance and expertise to the WASH sector. Additionally, the slower progress on sanitation access compared to water has stimulated the Government to focus on sanitation through the open defecation free (ODF) movement. The dominance of approaches such as community led total sanitation and local water and sanitation user committees are emblematic of a wider push towards devolving WASH service development, implementation and maintenance to the community level – a tactic that appears to have supported increases in average levels of access.
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