For Nepal’s pint-sized citizens, new kids’ taps deliver hydration, hygiene & funCorinne Reilly · June 29, 2017
Kids are short.
Pretty obvious, right?
Also undeniable: They need water, just like grown-ups.
So why are most water taps here – especially in rural areas, where hydration can be particularly hard to come by – built far above little ones’ reach?
It’s a good question, and it’s why Pact is helping change that.
In 2015, shortly after two massive earthquakes struck Nepal, Pact began working in five hard-hit districts to help communities rebuild. With funding from USAID, we’re using a unique model that puts Nepalis in charge of their own recovery. Community members decide together on their most pressing small infrastructure need, and then with Pact’s support, they implement the project.
So far, Pact has helped rural communities in Lamjung, Gorkha, Dhading, Dolakha and Ramechhap complete 50 infrastructure projects, with 140 more underway. While they’ve also included community centers, road improvements and micro-hydro power systems, most communities have chosen new drinking water systems as their greatest need.
Most of the Pact-supported systems are in remote, mountainous areas. From a natural source, the water is usually fed by gravity to a large concrete tank. From there it travels through underground piping – sometimes for miles – to outdoor tap stands near communities’ homes.
And on all of those stands, there are two taps rather than the traditional one. One is at the usual, adult height, with another a bit lower.
Little hands need washing too.
“It makes so much sense,” says Suresh Thapa, who oversees Pact's recovery efforts in Dolakha and Ramechhap districts. “Yet in so many places, all the knobs are too high for the kids to reach.”
In Rainas, in Lamjung district, where community members recently completed a new, earthquake-resistant drinking water system, all 12 of the system’s tap stands include children’s taps – something they’d never had before.
They’ve helped the village’s smaller residents enjoy better health and hygiene, community members say.
Kids in Dolakha district wash up using a Pact-supported water system.
“The children all love it,” says Shyam Khanal, who chaired the community committee that led the construction. “They can drink and wash their hands and faces whenever they want.”
Parents here tend to stay very busy with work and household chores, adds Sharmila Shrestha, the committee’s secretary.
“So it is very good when the children don’t have to wait for their mom to have water,” Shrestha says. “They just do it themselves now.”
Khanal says the lower taps have also given more independence to a local woman who stands hunched because of a disability; before, she needed help to get water.
And other adults use the kids’ taps when traditional ones are occupied, adding to the system’s capacity.
With the taps, Pact and USAID are also contributing to the implementation of projects that are consistent with the government of Nepal’s guidelines for development.
Two adults in Gorkha district get water at the same time, thanks to a children’s tap.
In a nearby village that also recently finished a Pact-supported water system, kids displayed another of the taps’ side benefits: fun.
A little girl who was washing her hands squealed with delight as her brother snuck in and splashed her and then ran.
She quickly filled her cheeks with water before dashing after him for revenge.
Photos by Brian J. Clark for Pact.