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Sustainably improving water supply, sanitation and hygiene behavior in rural areas of Nepal

by Public Health Update

Prasharam BC

Access to safe drinking water supply, sanitation services and improved hygiene behaviors are fundamental for improving public health. Safe water and sanitation facilities are fundamental human rights but many people in Nepal don’t have access to them. Many people both in rural and urban areas, are affected by water borne and water related diseases due to use of unsafe water, poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation facilities. According to UNICEF, “10.8 million people in Nepal don’t have access to improved sanitation and 3.5 million don’t have access to basic water services.” Particularly rural people have lack of access to these essential basic services which contributes substantially to the high burden of diseases.

The Sustainable Development Goals addresses the urgent need to improve water and sanitation standards throughout the world with SDG 6 calling for access to water to clean water and sanitation for all. The Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management (DWSSM) under Ministry of Water Supply, with responsibility of planning, implementation, operation, repair and maintenance of water supply and sanitation systems throughout the country, is the lead implementing agency of the WASH sector whereas the Ministry is the lead executing agency.

Key issues to be addressed with regard to water supply include the need for improved management and maintenance of water points. In most of the areas the lack of water is a key constraint for improving sanitation and hygiene behavior, so that at first the access to water should be improved and it should be followed by promotion of improved hygiene and sanitation practices. The activities and programmes should be conducted in a manner that takes into consideration the socio-cultural factors (lifestyles, taboos and beliefs), economic and physical constraints that people are facing.

The following activities and programs can be conducted for sustainably improving water supply, sanitation and hygiene behaviors in rural areas of Nepal:

  1. Raising awareness on the importance of water resources management, sanitation and hygiene behaviors in the communities through community leaders and local administrator.
  2. Renovating, upgrading and constructing appropriate drinking water infrastructure.
  3. Finding and promoting locally appropriate and feasible methods for water treatment at household level.
  4. Conducting community based sanitation and hygiene promotion programs with maximum community participation.
  5. Conducting school health education and hygiene promotion programs.
  6. Supporting sanitation related small businesses and enhancing coordination and collaboration among different sectors.
  7. Conducting sanitation and hygiene promotion program utilizing local resources with participation of local people of the community.
  8. Supporting and strengthening the actions of Non-government organizations (NGOs) and International Non-Government Organizations (INGOs) in WASH sector.
  9. Strengthening the Monitoring and Evaluation of the WASH related programs.


  • Water and sanitation, unicef.org.np
  • National water supply and sanitation sector policy, 2014

Prasharam BC, BPH 7th semester

National Academy for Medical Sciences (NAMS), Purbanchal University

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