Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

The right to sanitation in Nepal: what's the verdict?

During a recent visit to Nepal, researchers from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development Mary Ann Brocklesky and Rebecca Scott shared their verdict on the state of the right to sanitation in Nepal.

During their stay, the researchers met with a range of civil society organisations to discuss the right to sanitation in Nepal in order to understand their work, their partners, the sector and assess the state of sanitation in Nepal. They went on various FANSA member field visits to get an idea of whether the government's policy has had any impact on the ground.

They also held focus group discussions with sanitation leaders of five municipalities in the Kathmandu Valley along with the water and sanitation utility authorities to understand the sanitation scenario and challenges faced by municipalities providing sanitation facility to the Kathmandu dwellers.

The final research findings will be prepared in early 2011 and be made available through the FAN as well as through DFID UK.

The verdict

Right to sanitation debate has been won

At policy level, the debate on the right to sanitation has been won and only remains to be incorporated and translated into action.

Challenge now is action

However, despite a state commitment to the right to sanitation since 2008, the rights are not widely applied either by government or non-government service providers. Thus, in Nepal, the major challenge at this time is reaching the 100 per cent sanitation coverage goal by 2017.

National Sanitation Master Plan doesn't address all rights standards

The researchers pointed out that National Sanitation Master Plan has not addressed all aspects of the right standards such as quality, sustainability, complain and penalty systems, although it is increasingly providing evidence of availability and access.

Consensus on what sanitation means in building

The study showed variation in the definition of the right to sanitation. There is inconsistent definition and understanding about what sanitation means from households to government level and there is a consensus building around the definition within the National Sanitation and Hygiene Master Plan.

DFID field visits


The first project they visited was a LUMANTI project in a marginalized and underprivileged squatter Dalit community in Narayan tole near Kanti Children Hospital. LUMANTI Support Group works to improve the condition of squatters' settlements and their living environment and gave training on health and hygiene which brought significant behavioural changes in the community.

Society of Urban Poor

The group also visited Society of Urban Poor (SOUP) Project site Teku in Kathmandu Metropolitan City Environment Department premises to conduct community interaction on sanitation facilities to a poor migrant community of rag pickers. SOUP provides scholarships to urban poor community children and also encourages women's groups to save money to improve their economic condition. This community does not have proper sanitation facilities.

Centre for Integrated Urban Development (CIUD)

Then the researchers visited the Dalit community in Nala. Nala is a traditional newar community village. Water and sanitation is one of the most serious problems of this village who do not have toilets in their households or sewage pipelines. FANSA member Centre for Integrated Urban Development (CIUD) is working for improving the sanitation facility in Nala village with the support from UN HABITAT Water for Asian Cities Programme.


The researchers attended the premier of a television series called 'Dhalamati'. The premier was inaugurated by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Physical Planning and Works Bijay Kumar Gachhadar. The tv serial's objective is to draw the attention of relevant policy makers towards the deteriorating condition of the holy Bagmati River due to direct discharge of toilet waste and mixing of septic tank sludge in the river. This film was produced by Guthi, a FAN Nepal national member, in association with UN Habitat supported by National Trust for Nature Conservation and High Powered Committee for Integrated Development of Bagmati Civilisation - Government of Nepal.