In Jhalakpur, sweating it out for water

- BASANTA PRATAP SINGH, BAJHANG

Dec 14, 2018-

Anita Jagari hasn’t had a good night’s sleep for the past two months. Every

night before going to bed, she sets herself the target of waking up earlier than everyone else and be the first to reach the water spring, located about 30 minutes’ walk from the village. She doesn’t always succeed.

Water is precious in Jhalakpur, a remote village in Bungal Municipality-6 of Bajhang district, where residents compete for fetching water from the spring. The race for water begins well before dawn.

 “Some nights I wake up four or five times in my sleep to check if the birds are chirping. If you are the first person to reach the spring, you can start your day early. Feed your children, send them to school and run your daily errands,” said Anita.

But with the entire village scrambling to fill as many jars and pots, the spring is crowded with men, women and children from early morning.

“Some mornings you have to wait for up to six hours to fill your pot, even if you have reached the spring at 4 in the morning” said Puni Gurdhami.

Most children in the village help their parents in the water fetching duty and, as a result, miss their school for three or four days a week.

Dipesh Ghurdhami says Jhalakpur has been reeling under water scarcity for as long as he can remember.

“Even my parents and grandparents used to drink from this spring, and they, too, had the same trouble. No one has taken any step to address the problem,” he said.

For a brief period of time during monsoon, Jhalakpur villagers get to forget their water woes, when a water spring emerges near the village. Every household gets plenty of water for about three months before the trouble returns.

“Maintaining personal hygiene and sanitation is difficult when water is scarce for nine months of the year. We cannot always walk for hours to the river to bathe and wash our clothes daily because we have other works to do,” said Anjana Bohara.

Villagers say they have made numerous requests to the authorities to set up a small water project for their settlement, to no avail.

Shiva Bista, technician at the municipal water management project, said the crisis in Jhalakpur could be addressed by setting up a solar lifting pump. “There is a water source just 45 minutes down the village where we could install a solar pump to lift the water,” he said.

Published: 14-12-2018 07:27

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