Integrated Water Resources Management experiences in Nepal-Finland Projects
Before Nirajan Shresta left RVWRMP he gave an interview in which he shares his experiences while working in the Project. I started my career as a short term consultant in RWSS-WN project of Nepal-Finland Cooperation) bilateral in Parbat District. I was responsible for overall management of the project activities including planning, coordination of the implementation, monitoring & reporting. Personally, I was going through a difficult time due to the loss of beloved family members. It was a challenge to focus on the project activities and targets but I managed.
“During the assignment, I drafted a technical guide for disabled friendly public-, institutional- and school toilets”.
Improving sustainability and functionality of water schemes
After that consultancy I applied and got a job as post construction officer in RVWRMP II. I made some important changes to the post construction Step-by-Step procedure. My main concern was how to improve the sustainability and functionality of water supply schemes. I co-organized and represented RVWRMP in different workshops and conferences with the Federation of Drinking Water and Sanitation Users Nepal (FEDWASUN) in Dhangadhi and Dadeldhura. The manuals and the conferences, at the same time, also promoted the Project and increased visibility of the project in the field. I have contributed to the development of several different project manuals, the Step by Step guidelines and scheme books.
“The manuals and famous Step-by-Step guidelines are important RVWRMP tools to train and guide the users in the implementation of the water schemes and sanitation activities”.
We frequently visited the field for monitoring the quality of the work and maintaining the staff disciplined and sharp. My task was to give on-site advice, correct designs and work modalities to improve performance and quality of the construction. After the devastating earthquake in Nepal on 2072 BS, I, together with other colleagues was requested by the Embassy Finland in Nepal to participate in Post Disaster Need Assessment (PDNA) in the affected districts Dhading, Gorkha & Lamjung.
Later, I also became responsible for project visibility of the project activities at National and International Level. We that time we also worked on several needs assessments as a first step to plan new implementation. Then, I briefly worked as Water Resources Officer in Baitadi’ responsible for overall technical management of the project activities including technical planning, coordination of the implementation, monitoring & reporting. Then, the project was going to be end very soon, so I left the project.
Multiple use of water for drinking, irrigation and energy
I designed and supervised six Multi Use Schemes (MUS). The MUS combines several water uses in one design. For example drinking water is combined with irrigation, water mills, drinking water for cattle or hydro power energy generation.
“My interest for the Multi Use Schemes (MUS) has grown over time when I saw the impact in the community”.
With small adaptations in the scheme design it is possible to operate a water mill which is of great benefit for the users. I learned so much from working in the integrated water management and developed a great interest for the agricultural production. It is very interesting to see how people use the water for agricultural production. We oriented the users in drafting production plans and they took it into action.
“The water users formed groups to discuss and make joint production plans for the market”.
“The schemes have often a mixed private and collective ownership of the irrigated lands”. Some parts of the schemes are group-owned and managed. I saw that the shared property motivates people to develop agricultural production proposals together. Paringal, for example, is a scheme were you see growing group activities to produce for the market. The group of users also operate a multi-purpose nursery.
“In the nursery they reproduce trees for the bioengineering to protect the water works and for soil conservation in the catchment.”
In, I joined in the project third phase of RVWRMP as a Water Resources Engineer for Bajhang on Dec 26th, 2016.
My mission was to improve the quality of construction and services provided in scheduled end date. This was done through technical back stopping to boost capacities among all technicians across the projects. After the elections the Project changed its mode of operation to support the new local level governments to provide services to the residents (see box on the RMPMC)
Room for innovation
I always had keen interest to innovate and seek new technical interventions to solve problems. I am proud of having contributed to improved design of the schemes. For example the soil cement tank adaptation helped to make more optimal use of water in dry and wet season. I also want to mention the simple river training works to protect the intake, the canal and the irrigated lands against erosion and flooding by the river. In my experience, RVWRMP was an open channel for transferring knowledge to- and from all staff.
I remember how we were the first to pilot a RM-Level Climate Change Adaptation-Disaster Risk Reduction workshop for newly elected RM executives for climate resilient WASH structures in Talkot Rural Municipality, Bajhang.
I advocated the use of water quality testing mechanism, I made structural improvements in de designs, and was involved in drafting the Water Safety Plan manual. In my District we were the first to establish a basic level water quality laboratory at RM level. Now, all core RMs In Bajhang, have their fully operational basic level water quality testing laboratory. In my last position we worked on an incredible integration of diverse ideas and issues;
“Bajhang was leading the alignment with government policy “One house One Tap stand” by introducing the private yard connections in the water supply systems”
Solar Lifting Water Supply Schemes and the Typical “Paringal” MUS scheme in Bajhang are considered best practices in the project and have been replicated in other districts.
I have many good memories of the trainings and support to the newly recruited staff and the monitoring visits in the field.
“As an Engineer, I have done so much more than design and cost estimating works. It was a really comprehensive experience into all aspects of the implementation of integrated water development plans”.
Continuing the RVWRMP experience in the future
It is not easy for me to leave this Project. I’ve been working with the people for a long time and developed many relations. The bonds in the project are also strong because we are so far away from the family and the social life. Last but not least, all RVWRMP staff is highly qualified and experienced in each sector.
“I liked it that there are no barriers for expressing oneself and learn in the best rural friendly project of Nepal. Its unique branding on national and international level is worth preserving.”
The Finnish Consulting Group (FCG) should definitely strategically think how to continue this experience in Sudurpashchim in the future.”