The Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) under the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MPPW), the lead ministry for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Nepal has since 2011 allocated budget for Regional WASH Resource Centre (RC) in Surkhet and decided to establish Regional WASH Resource Centres in four other administrative regions of the country. Nepal is divided into five regions and 75 districts for administrative purpose.
How did the change come about?
At national level, the exchange of information is primarily taken care of by two institutions: the Resource Centre at DWSS and the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene-Resource Centre Network Nepal (WASH-RCNN). However, since Nepal consists of diverse administrative regions with remote districts, WASH coordination and the exchange of information within and among regions and districts were rather limited till recently. While doing a needs assessment for establishing regional resource centres in 2009, the WASH-RCNN concluded that this lack of coordination and information hampered both policy development at national level and WASH service delivery at regional and district level.
In 2009 the WASH-RCNN started discussions with national government and its regional office on establishing a Regional WASH Resource Centre in Surkhet. Although the senior officials at Surkhet Regional Monitoring and Supervision Office under DWSS were in favour of a Regional WASH Resource Centre, some of the other actors in the sector were not convinced yet of the importance of resource centres at regional level.
Not much later in 2009 though, a cholera epidemic outbreak took place in some of the districts of Surkhet. The national level was unable to guide and coordinate actions at local level since they lacked proper information and access to the area, while the local level was doing their best but had no proper platforms for coordinated action. It was only then that some of the regional and district actors realised that they needed better coordination and information to help control the outbreak, to stop the contamination and reduce the death toll.
In 2010 the Regional Monitoring and Supervision Office (RMSO), the WASH-RCNN, UNICEF, WHO and the Netherlands Development organisation (SNV) office in Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of the Regional WASH Resource Centre (RC) in Surkhet. The Regional WASH RC in Surkhet has also been acting as a secretariat of the Regional WASH Coordination Committee that ensures that all actions related to water, sanitation and hygiene are well planned, prioritised and coordinated within the region.
Now by 2012, it is still too early to say what the impact has been of the Regional WASH RC and the Coordination Committee on WASH service delivery. It is certain though that WASH governance has improved: actions are well coordinated and prioritised in the region.
The experiences in Surkhet have also contributed to the Sanitation and Hygiene Master Plan 2011 of Nepal. In this Master Plan, Coordination Committees are made mandatory for all administrative levels, from national to village-level. So it has grown from a regional initiative into a national official policy.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – Resource Centre Network Nepal (WASH-RCNN)
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