From where I stand: Sita Shrestha
For as long as I can remember, I have been walking miles every morning before school to fetch water for my family. Many in the village [Chilaune, near Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu] had to walk for hours to get water for cooking and cattle. Water shortage has always been one of the biggest problems of my village. Post-earthquake, as the spouts started mysteriously drying up, the need for a solution was more urgent.
After [attending] a two-day training on leadership, I knew I wanted to find a solution for the water shortage problem in our village. There was one particular natural spout that everyone had been using since the others dried up. But the way the community was using it was chaotic; there was dirt everywhere, the floor was slippery and people had to wait hours for their turn.
We fundraised in the village, took a small loan and bought cement, sand, concrete to be carried all the way down from the main road. The earthquakes had destroyed the walking paths, so we had to first build proper paths so it was safe for those carrying the loads. We even brought in a tank from the town to store water. We have built a little canal so that the used water can be recycled for irrigation. Now no water goes to waste here. In the next phase, I want to build a few rooms near the tap so villagers can take a bath in privacy. But most importantly, I want to supply water to more households in the village. Nobody, especially not women and school-going children, should have to walk for hours for water. We have the ability to take the water to more homes—and that is what we will do next.
The training and this project have been a life-altering experience. I have become more confident, have started thinking about how else I can help my community and plan for the future. I am graduating from high school this year. I want to study social work. There is a lot of satisfaction in helping others, I want to be able to continue to do that in the future.”
Sita Shrestha, 19, took part in a two-day training on leadership organized by the UN Women local NGO partner SAATHI, in Nepal, following which she helped construct a tap and organize villagers to turn a natural water source into a public space they could share. Sustainable Development Goal 6 seeks to ensure universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.