20 km away from Pokhara Metropolitan City lies a traditional pond named Thuli Pokhari in Begnas, ward no 31. This pond used to have water all year around and fulfil the water needs of this area, especially for the cattle rearing. But now, there is hardly any water in this pond. The pond has dried up in recent years and not been as functional as it used to be in the past. The pond does not retain water as before. Water somehow leaks from the pond and what is left is little amount of water for the livestock. The community people shows concerns about this dwindling pond and have come up with several efforts to restore the pond.
“This pond was full of water. We used to swim in this pond and fetch water for our livestocks. Cows and buffaloes used to swim in this water but now there is not much water in this pond.” -Mr. Sukraraj Adhikari, Teacher, Anandajyoti Secondary School.
The declining pond water has become a growing concern for the community. Several attempts have been made in the rehabilitation of pond by different organisations. The pond was expanded and the lining of the boundary was done. But still the pond did not hold water as expected. Water leaked from the side walls and the pond started drying again. They have diverted the runoff from the roads in the pond. Still, it did not work out. Community people had the opinion that the road construction could be the reason for drying of the pond. Road construction had changed the land structure causing the runoff to flow in different directions as well as the leakage of water from the pond. Despite the efforts to restore the pond, no improvements have been seen so far. Water leakage is still a problem which has been observed from three different points in the pond, from the increased area of the pond. There is an ongoing construction of a playground above the pond and the community has plans to divert the runoff from the playground into the pond.
RAIN COMMUNITIES Resilience and Integrated Natural Resources Management for Communities in Mountains of Nepal is a project implemented by Kanchan Nepal (KN) in collaboration with International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA) with the support of Canton of Geneva, Puplinge and 1% for Development Fund. This project aims to improve the health, living condition and resilience of the rural communities as well as restore the ecosystem. Specifically, it focuses on improving the water availability by adopting an Integrated Water Resources Management approach to manage the resource at watershed level. Rehabilitating a traditional pond is a part of the project activities. Since Thuli Pokhari is within the project intervention area, this pond has been taken into consideration for restoration since the community has not been able to manage the pond. With consultation with community people, what they had practised earlier for pond conservation, similar techniques will be applied for restoring the pond. Community practised cleaning of the pond once in a year. They spread the slurry made from clayey soils and cow dungs on the bottom all over to make the pond hold water longer. They also allowed few people for fish farming in the pond to make it more valuable. In addition, the soil will be analysed by Soil Expert to determine the soil properties which will provide useful information for the conservation pond.
The project aims to construct a total of thirty Rainwater Harvesting Systems with ten of the systems in this area. For this, an assessment was done in the project area. Few households were interviewed during the visit. Based on the responses, it has been found that spring is the main source of water in the community. It takes more than an hour for a round trip in fetching water. During the dry season, it would take more time, since they have to wait for their turn.
Parbati Adhikari from Begnas said “I used to have cows at home earlier but now I have stopped rearing livestock because we don’t have enough water and it’s hard for me to go faraway to fetch water for animals.”
Since the monsoon has begun in Nepal, most of the households were using rainwater by collecting it in small tanks. Water collected from the spring wasn’t sufficient enough, some households used water transported from tankers while some households would make go far away sources for water collection. The existing lifting water scheme was dysfunctional/ not in operation due to technical problems. Having faced the water hardships for several years and seen the benefits of RWH systems from Blue School Project, Ananda Jyoti School in their own community, households were enthusiastic and interested in installing the system. They were ready to make contributions in the installation of the system as this would ease their life due to water access.