Mr Parikshit Shrestha looks back at his experience with RVWRMP in this farewell blog.
Starting as a Water Resources Advisor
I joined RVWRMP phase I on 12 Aug 2007 as a Water Resources Advisor in Darchula and Bajura Districts. My first task was to get the project implementation on track and to speed up the pace of implementation. In 2010 I also became responsible for implementation of projects in the Doti district.
At that time the field work was done under severe conditions, we lacked the modern communication and the project sites where only accessible by foot. During those days, one had to travel from India to reach Darchula and from Sanphebagar Achham it was more than 2 days walking to reach Bajura headquarters. We used to have public phone booths and we waited in the queue for making or receiving a call.
Staff security was a major concern in those days. The project VDCs were far away from the district headquarter and our feet were the only means of transportation. Public services was lacking everywhere. There were no toilets or safe drinking water let alone hygienic hotel facilities. When we started the people had a bad attitude of “lets make some money from project implementation”. They looked at the project staff as taking their share of fund.
RVWRMP is the most rural friendly project...
Even under these adverse conditions I executed my duties and achieved the project targets entrusted on me. I was driven by a desire to give the population access to safe drinking water, sanitation practices and hygiene practices. I remember how I had to overcome all type of barriers and obstructions in Bajura to reach the WASH targets.
Promotion to Technical Specialist of RVWRMP
My performance apparently drew the attention of the people because I was selected as the Technical Specialist in phase II. I had a strong vision to improve the quality of construction and services provided. When I led the WASH I established the “Technical Coordination Meeting” (TCM) to boost the capacity for project implementation. The meeting was a great moment for disseminating, sharing, capacitating, replicating, solving issues and learning among the technical staff. Hands-on skill training was our mode to capacitate the technical staffs practically.
" I used the word “Rvians” to renown ourselves. Whenever something good is done by PSU staffs, we used to say Rvians. It’s a mark and brand of our work. "
During my tenure we improved the quality of construction and increased capacity-building of the technical staff. I am proud that this project is now famous for the quality of the works. Our work ethic was self-discipline, pro-activeness and high moral: discipline always starts from oneself. Due to this behavior, misuse of funds and corruption was not seen in the project. We worked hard on team building and a team spirit of mutual respect and supporting each other when necessary. This led to open discussions on issues where everybody could participate.
Continuous learning and innovation
Structural improvement of our approach over the years included the animal troughs next to the water points, 3R systems of Recharge, Retain and Reuse, the integration of Climate Change Adaptation /Disaster Risk Reduction in planning implementation and post construction, water quality testing mechanism, source improvement and springshed protection.
I am happy to see that the integrated water projects especially have led to reduced drudgery and hardship of rural women. Frequent field monitoring was necessary to maintain the staff motivated and involved and to keep an eye on the quality of the works. I travelled a lot these times to give on site advise, solve organizational and technical issues and to coach the staff in the field.
The people have been capacitated in such a way that now they feel confident to demand their rights in different forums, communicate their viewpoints and can meaningfully participate.
We continuously tried to innovate and grow as professionals and water users building our capacity for safe and sustainable WASH services. Operation and Maintenance training, risk reduction and climate adaptation and income generation from the livelihood sector extended the life of the service. I saw how safe drinking water have
reduced diarrhea among the population.
Drudgery and hardship of the female members have been reduced through water related interventions. The image of the project as a mark of “Quality” has been established. The people have been capacitated in such a way that now they feel confident to demand their rights in different forums, communicate their views and can meaningfully participate.
What are the key ingredients to become a WASH guru?
There is no secret in becoming a WASH leader. It’s the discipline and respect of each other in both ways whatever the positions. All technical staff is bound together through discipline and our work ethic of serving the remote communities. I motivated the staff to continuously improve and pinch and challenge them to become better. I like to coach others and they considered me as a teacher not as a boss. We treated each other with a lot of humanity. If you are fair, open, and wish well and are good to others, then there is no way that the others will let you down.
RVWRMP project is the most rural friendly project, serving a population still fighting for their basic needs as clean drinking water. Now I found another interesting professional challenge that allows me to be more time with the family but I know that I will miss this RVWRMP integrated water resources project renowned for transparency, quality and on the spot service facilitation. And once an Rvian always an Rvian.