Nepal is one of the richest country when we talk about water resources. Our country has over 6000 rivers with abundant water, often flooding the northern parts of our neighbor. However the reality when it comes to supply of water is very different. Tens of thousands of people in the rural area walk for kilometers to fetch a bucket of many times dirty water, while in the urban areas the challenges are altogether different.
Nepal is one of the fastest urbanizing nations in South-Asia. As the rural population migrates to the cities like Kathmandu, we have massive problems to tackle to meet the increasing water demand for the urban population. Kathmandu Valley’s official population is almost 2.5 million and growing at the rate of 4% every year. The existing infrastructure is far inadequate to support this growing population. The valley is facing a chronic water problem. The demand of water of the valley is 360 MLD compare to the supply of 90 MLD in dry season and 105 MLD in the monsoon (KUKL-2014). To add to this higher degree of leakage, lack of treatment of wastewater and poor quality of water rises more concern about the supply of water.
The ever changing climate is going to have even more adverse effect on this issue. Nepal is ranked 4th in vulnerability to climate change and 30th in vulnerability to water induced disasters. These facts should open our eyes!
While the government has been executing Melamchi and a lot of hopes lie with the project, it will still take several years meaning interim action is required. By the time it is finished, it still will not meet the supply-demand gap, until future phases (more tunnels) are implemented. Because of this ongoing delay and supply-demand gap, groundwater levels are also decreasing daily and quality is getting worse.
Amidst the gloomy picture, we need to find hope, we need to take it in our hands, and we need to take the right actions. Water conservation should be a motto for every individual. Water has no substitution and there is no life without water. The gap between the demand and supply is widening by the day and the greater challenge for the coming days will be to fill these gaps.
We as an individual level need to understand the importance of water and the reality about it. We need to explore ways, technologies and initiate action to meet this gap and to save our lives. Opportunities for conservation and innovative ways of reusing water and treating wastewater are abundant, let’s seize the moment and pave the way for a sustainable water future in Nepal today!