Keeping the Water Flowing

One village in Nepal is working to implement a shared vision of the future.

Villagers of Lapilang, Nepal, lead the way to where the new water tap is located. Photo credit: Colin H.P. Buckley, USAID

When the citizens of Lapilang, a village in the northeastern region of Nepal, needed fresh drinking water, they would collect their buckets and set out on an hours long journey up a steep mountainside overlooking the foothills of the Himalayas.

Arduous and prone to danger from mudslides, the trip became necessary after the April 25, 2015, earthquake, which killed 9,000 people in Nepal. The devastation was followed by dozens of aftershocks that killed hundreds more while leveling buildings, rupturing pipes, destroying farmland and contaminating or shifting local water sources.

Almost overnight, clean drinking water for the village was hours away and difficult to access.

In spite of enormous logistical challenges, USAID and its partners mobilized in the following months to help villages like Lapilang. Last year, I went there as USAID staff to see if there had been any progress in returning their lives to normal.

What made USAID’s work in Nepal unique was the use of “Community Driven Development.” In this approach, an outside organization may offer to fund important small infrastructure projects, but it is up to community members themselves to identify, implement and maintain those projects. Instead of simply relying on outsiders to fund necessary improvements, the community will gain experience in democracy, local governance and demand greater accountability from leaders.

Photo credits: Colin H.P. Buckley, USAID