Resilience and Integrated Natural Resource Management for Communities in the Himalayan Hills of Nepal
This “Rain Communities” project is designed following the implementation of nine Blue Schools in the Kaski district, which intended to improve access to safe drinking water and hygiene as well as to raise awareness on the link between water and environmental conservation. During the implementation of these blue schools, potential rainy communities were identified and the need for an integrated rainwater management emerged. Communities identified their water needs and developed initial plans.
The International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA) and Kanchan Nepal seek to promote Rain communities in the Kaski district of western Nepal. The objective is to improve the capacity of the communities to collect rainwater, as well as to increase their resilience towards natural hazards and climate change.
Establishing a global action plan for managing the water resources is particularly important, since it has been forecasted that the Kaski district will be impacted by climate change (UNFCC, 2014). The number of rainfall events is expected to increase and monsoons to intensify, and this combined with longer dry periods. A greater variability in the occurrence of events and an increase in the hazards intensity is also projected. These predictions will undoubtedly have negative impacts on marginalized communities in the Himalayan mountainous regions. In addition, the water cycle has been severely disrupted due to intensive deforestation in some areas, which no longer encourages infiltration, increases runoff and destructive lowland flooding. As a result, natural recharge is reduced and unused volumes are high, which reduces the aquifer levels as well as dries up springs and resurgences during longer periods of drought.
Improving rainfall management and a better anticipation of variability (too much rain / too little rain) is fundamental to increase the resilience of the communities. It is necessary to develop rainfall anticipation, to optimize the retention, to improve the use of collected rainwater volumes, and to enhance communities understanding of these processes. It is crucial to rethink the management of water resources, and to set up all the necessary conservation measures at the different levels of the watershed. This will allow to rehabilitate the natural processes of the water cycle, to promote the recharge and to increase water availability in the rural environment. Rainwater harvesting is a resource that is currently undervalued and underused in designing responses for improving water supply in rural communities. The good management of this resource is an option that is relevant and effective in meeting the basic needs of marginalized communities in the heights of Pokhara.
Therefore, over the implementation of this project, IRHA-Kanchan Nepal and the communities will develop an integrated water management plan, and jointly build:
- Water storage tanks
- Community water storage tanks
- Rainwater harvesting systems in local schools
- Local tree nurseries
And they will undertake:
- Rehabilitation of the Pokharis
- Reforestation of barren slopes
- Planting grasses on steep slopes
- Water system management and maintenance
- Health and hygiene training
The implementation strategy for such a project in rainwater resource management will be carried out in an integrated manner by developing different components:
- Erosion control, soil maintenance and improvement,
- Water resource management and runoff, and
- Strengthening the management capacities of local communities and agricultural practices.