Fastflow's WaterAid project in Nepal - Day 3
Fastflow Chief Executive Neil Armstrong is in Nepal to see what a difference his company's £68,000 donation to WaterAid has made to the people of Biratnagar.
Here is his blog about the third day of his six day visit.
A busy schedule today, beginning with an early meeting with members of the local municipality. They are trying hard, with limited funds, to support LUMANTI and WaterAid in their efforts to provide residents of these removedalised communities with basic access to clean water and sanitation.
Their funds are so limited that they can only offer financial assistance covering between 10% - 20% of the cost of the work. They seem like people who genuinely care but are caught up in a complex and bureaucratic political system. They seem as frustrated as we are!
The meeting goes well and we have managed to persuade them to commit to a straight 20% over the next year. A good result!
Following this we visited public toilets located next to a busy bus station in the centre of Biratnagar. Until recently, these toilets were badly run down and not in use. The sewer/septic tank system had deteriorated to a point where it no longer functioned properly and the stench of raw sewage was unbearable.
Through a public/private partnership, advised and facilitated by LUMANTI, a biogas plant was installed and the toilets renovated. They are now again in full use, serving all in the vicinity. The gas generated as a by product is piped to local businesses for cooking and heating purposes. This new local innovative initiative is being held up as a real success and other similar sites are already in the planning and construction stages.
Then we were off to visit the nearby Shree Adarsha Balika Secondary School for girls. From the 625 students, 490 adolescent girls are directly benefiting from the construction of a latrine with an incinerator. Before the installation, the girls were often absent from school during their menstrual period due to the lack of adequate facilities. But now after the construction of a girl friendly latrine and incinerator, together with adequate water access, school drop out rates have reduced significantly.
The incinerator is not a very sophisticated piece of kit. It is basically a crude hole in the wall where the girls place their used sanitary towels, which then drop through to a roughly constructed shed type burner. The burner is lit every couple of days by the caretaker by means of hay and straw. All very basic but nevertheless, effective.
To put things into perspective, the total cost of the rehabilitation of the toilets and the construction of the incinerator was just £600. Very little money for such a big result!
These young girls were absolutely wonderful to meet and gave us a very warm welcome. They were dressed immaculately, in stark contrast to their school, which seemed very basic and run down in comparison to UK standards. They were confident and proud of their achievements and again full of joy and happiness. I think this demeanour is pretty typical of Nepali people.
In the afternoon it was off to visit more communities to see their progress in achieving ODF (open defecation free) status and in the building of new latrines and water points. At each community the welcome was the same, with flower garlands and bunches upon bunches of flowers gifted to us.
Again a deeply humbling experience. The very evident pride and joy worn on the faces of these wonderful people gives us confidence that real progress is being made with these worthy initiatives.Neil Armstrong