On February 18, 2015, ICIMOD, the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, launched a two-year research project on reviving springs and providing access to solar powered irrigation pumps (SPIP) through community based water use planning. Helvetas Swiss Inter-cooperation (Nepal) and ACWADAM (India) are partners in this project.
In Nepal it will be implemented in Sindupalchowk and Dailekh, while in India the activities will focus on the Nainital district of Uttarakhand.
Availability of water for human consumption and for agriculture is critical to a decent existence and livelihood in the hills.
To stem the decline in spring yields, the project will investigate options for recharge and retention of rainwater in the landscape through protection of natural infiltration zones and development of additional recharge opportunities.
The Water Use Management Plan (WUMP) [http://www.icimod.org/?q=10410] approach is used to make an inventory of sources and together agree on their use.
The research project aims to build on WUMP by promoting local solutions with flexibility to take the local situation into account.
In the last 18 months, ICIMOD and the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation Related undertook a study on the drying of springs, the outcome of which was published on February 19, 2015 through an ICIMOD Issue Brief [shortly available on the web].
It notes as key policy recommendations that empowered local regulatory institutions with authority to act are key to sustainable conservation, and the more local the unit, the more effective is local governance.
Similarly, experience is available from Sikkim, where the Rural Management and Development Department of the Government of Sikkim initiated the Dhara Vikas programme in 2009. The programme has revived some 55 springs in the last 5 years and greatly contributed to local recharge. The Department also produced a very nice handbook (27MB!)
The research project further aims to explore the use of solar pumps as a climate resilient and poverty alleviation solution for water lifting (in the Nepal Terai).
Conservation of local water resources in rural Nepal is important to sustain functionality of water supply schemes, and the WASH sector will be following the outcome of the study with interest.