Bheemdatt Municipality in Sudurpaschim Province of far western Nepal and Lamahi Municipality in Province 5 of western Nepal have become the third and fourth municipalities (out of total five in Nepal) to join Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN) ’s “Municipalities Network Advocacy in Sanitation in South Asia” project in Nepal. Amid formal MoU signing ceremonies held separately on 23 December 2018 in Bheemdatt and 25 December 2018 in Lamahi, both the Municipalities are now on board with MuAN in collaboration with United Cities and Local Governments Asia Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) and Environment & Public Health Organization (ENPHO) to, among others, develop and implement national policy and strategy on sanitation with focus on Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) and non-sewered sanitation system in line with SDG 6.
“The project could help develop some kind of sister-relationship between cities as the issue of fecal sludge management itself is the problem faced by all developing cities. There is urgent need to collaborate and be more cost effective in our efforts on waste management,” said Surendra Bista, Mayor of Bheemdatt Municipality at the MoU Signing Ceremony and Orientation in his municipality. The Mayor of neighboring Dhangadi Sub-Metropolitan City and MuAN’s Working Committee Member, Nirpa Bahadur Odd, who was also present in the event, said Dhangadi and Bheemdutt could be model cities and teach other municipalities the learnings from the UCLG project. He also lauded MuAN and UCLG ASPAC for coming up with a project that is more people-need focused in the current context.
Similarly, MuAN’s Co-Treasurer and Deputy Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Hari Prabha Khadgi Shrestha, the Chief Guest of the event in Bheemdatt, said the MuAN project in Nepal could provide a platform for locally elected representatives to showcase their collaboration for development despite the country facing years of violent conflict and local elections taking place after a period of over 18 years. Nepal re-wrote its Constitution in 2016 that restructured itself into a federal state holding the local elections in May 2017.
Likewise, the second MoU signing ceremony took place in Lamahi Municipality on Christmas Day (25 December 2018). The project’s technical partner in Nepal, Environment & Public Health Organization (ENPHO) provided an orientation on fecal sludge management in both the MoU signing events.
“The (MuAN) FSM project has been like food to the hungry… Our Municipality already has a vacuum truck but still do not know how to manage the (fecal) waste,” said Mayor of Lamahi Municipality, Kul Bahadur KC, at the MoU signing ceremony in his municipality. “I urge the project to go beyond policy building and knowledge transfer. You (the project partners) have to be with us to help us implement the project so that we can set an example to other growing cities,” he added.
Speaking at the event in Lamahi, MuAN’s Treasurer and Mayor of Tulsipur Sub-Metropolitan City, Ghanshyam Pandey, also the Chief Guest for the Lamahi event, urged municipalities to prioritize and unite for a more cost effective sanitation management. “The elected representatives also need proper media coordination in the process for a more effective outcome,” he said. Another MuAN Board Member and Deputy Mayor of Kohalpur Municipality, Sanju Kumari Chaudhary, said the issue of fecal sludge management is very useful for growing cities in the current context.
Speaking at both the events, MuAN’s Executive Director, Kalanidhi Devkota, highlighted the need for Municipalities to share their learning experiences as well as collaborate to manage waste cost effectively, including fecal sludge management that is posing as a growing health issue in developing cities. “We will also work towards collaborately developing a sanitation policy that could be tailor made to suit other interested municipalities even not covered by the project,” he added.
UCLG ASPAC’s “Municipalities Network Advocacy in Sanitation in South Asia” project is being implemented in Nepal with MuAN and Environment & Public Health Organization (ENPHO) as its technical partner. In Bangladesh, the same UCLG ASPAC project is being implemented by Municipalities Association of Bangladesh (MAB) with SNV as its technical partner.
Bheemdatt Municipality in Sudurpaschim Province (Far Western Nepal), Lamahi Municipality in Province 5 (Western Nepal), Waling Municipality in Gandaki Province (Mid-Western Nepal) and Lahan Municipality in Province Two (Eastern Nepal) are now among total 10 pilot Municipalities (with five in each country) in the network in Nepal and Bangladesh that the project is going to cover. In Nepal, the five municipalities were chosen based upon a rapid sanitation assessment of 42 Municipalities using KOBOCollect Application for data collection.