As A Rapporteur in Opening Ceremony of NEPAL NATIONAL WATER WEEK (NNWW) 17-23 March 2013
The opening ceremony of Nepal National Water Week (NNWW) 2013 was held on 17 March, 2013 at the Nepal Tourism Board, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu. Around 150 people including government officials, students, water experts from NGOs, INGOs, journalists, etc. participated in the event. Ms. Sucheita Shrestha, a Master of Ceremony (MC), gave a short brief about the celebration of World Water Day (WWD) and the NNWW. She further highlighted on the theme of the WWD 2013 – “International Year of Water Cooperation”. “Looking far behind, water cooperation is very important factor to maintain global peace and gender equality, to enhance economics and for the protection of water resources as well as for the conservation of the environment.” said Ms. Shrestha. The gathering of different stakeholders in the event and NNWW team was a good example of cooperation that has been doing different activities regarding water issues with joint efforts.
The program was then started with a warm welcome by Er. Mahendra Bahadur Gurung, Vice-Chairperson of the NNWW 2013, to the dignitaries, participants and supporters of the event. Mr. Gurung also highlighted on the objectives and evolution of NNWW. Honorable. Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was the Chief Guest and Mr. Bishwa Prakash Pandit, Secretary, Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS), was the Chairperson in the program.
Hon. Mr. Ghimire inaugurated the opening of NNWW 2013 by watering a plant. The major highlights in his opening remarks were on the three main topics: Integrated Management Approach, Water Resources Conservation and Water Use. He said that the challenge for integrated management of water is the lack of implementation of the policies and action plan made so far due to political issues. He said, “We should concentrate more on conservation of water resources as there are 80% of our interventions on water use”. He stressed on the need of prioritizing the water use as the state is heading towards the Federal states. There is increase in water consumption but less use in agriculture should see the human position on the ecological hierarchy. “It is like a chicken and hen issue, Human for Nature or Nature for Human.” said Hon. Ghimire. Rural area water management is much easier than that in urban areas. Urban area needs high expenses whereas, rural areas need the balance in the different interventions of water and its multiple use. “How to increase the multiple uses? And technology is another dimension” said Hon. Ghimire The Urban areas should be more concerned about water availability and focus on waste water use.Last but not the least, the Chief Guest, Dr. Ghimire stated that the Water is the economy of the country. We should end treaty concept and go for economic development concept. This is only the starting, as government cannot do it alone, NNWW needs to make a systematic framework to enhance its value.” He further committed that government will surely consider the outcome of the discussions and activities during NNWW 2013.
Following the inauguration, Dr. David James Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, delivered the keynote speech. He highlighted on importance of mountains and the role of mountain people specially women and farmers for water resource management in upstream. “One of the major challenges in Mountains is migration of the people, who have to take care of the water resources in the mountain regions. The changing global phenomena such as climate change, increasing carbon level, shifting ecology, shifting monsoon change in temperature and radiation has resulted in glaciers meltdown, glacial lakes outburst and different impacts in water, agriculture, ecosystem, biodiversity and entire livelihood of people living in upstream to downstream.” said Dr. Molden. He urged to take the message from Nepal to Global level and thanked the NNWW team for acknowledging the regional cooperation.
On his remark, Dr. Shirish Singh, Program Head, Urban WASH, Practical Action said, “It is good to see diverse fields of organizations working together for the safety of water resources and freshwater. Yet it lacks the concerns on water/health and quality of water. Indoor air pollution and water borne diseases are the main killers and sanitation is far behind in Nepal.” He urged to focus on the indoor air pollution, hygiene behavior and water resources management.
Dr. Luna Bharati, office head at the Integrated Water management Institute (IWMI), in her remarks stated, “Positive responses from other country can be used for discussing water treaty with neighboring countries. In context of Nepal, though we have high availability of water, many areas still lack access to safe drinking water.” She also highlighted on the history of water treaties and water wars. Nepal’s irrigation system is somehow good as it is well implemented by the farmers without the help of outsiders and any donors.
Mr. Ashutosh Tiwari, Country Representative at Water Aid, said that there is no lack of water but, lack of strong governance in Nepal. “If we go to high hills, most of the schools are made on the height where the water accountability is a big problem. We should take Water as a natural resource with a price and value which needs a regulatory management and balance.” said Mr. Tiwari. He further added, “When talking about Groundwater, who is going to manage it?”
Dr. Ghan Shyam Gurung, Conservation Program Director at WWF Nepal, highlighted on the importance of water security, as it plays a vital role for the security of biodiversity, food and energy. “It should be the major concerns of the organizations which are working for the development. There must be a change in attitude of the people and they should be more conscious about the uses of water.” said Dr. Gurung.
Mr. Andreas Knapp, Chief of WASH section, UNICEF Nepal, told that he was inspired by the former speakers as it has shown a big hope for the achievement of the big motto. “Years back, Nepal has poor sanitation, but now Sanitation Social Movement has brought all the stakeholders together as they have realized that if they work alone, there will be no change at all.” said Mr. Knapp. He further added that Nepal can prosper a lot if the multi stakeholders work under one governance with common objectives. He also urged for the need of Sanitation Social Movement at the borders of the country.
Mr. Sudarshan Rajbhandari, Vice president of The Small Earth Nepal and Secretary of NNWW 2013, delivered his sincere appreciation and thanks to all the supporters, organizers, stakeholders and the audiences for making the program success.
The chairperson of the program, Mr. Bishwa Prakash Pandit, Secretary of WECS, gave the closing remarks. He urged for the importance of water, food and energy security. The change in monsoon can bring disastrous consequences in coming days. The melting of the snow in the Himalayas is visible as we can see the difference in the past and present. “It is very crucial to conserve the water resources; manage the water use to insure the water availability.” said Mr. Pandit. With the announcement of the closing of the program, he thanked the chief guest, guests, audience, journalists, supporters and the organizers and wished for the success of the upcoming events of NNWW 2013.