To the credit of World Water Day, Nepal can be proud of the good results achieved. Through UNICEF, Finland is increasing the country’s support for the water programme.
Nepal has already achieved its goal concerning the availability of drinking water, and one third of the population has received better sanitation services.
The decision to celebrate World Water Day was taken at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and the special day has been observed on 22 March since 1993. The day emphasises that each person has the right to clean water.
Public hygiene, clean water, sewerage and hygienic latrines are focal points of Nepal’s Millennium Development Goals. Nepal aims to provide drinkable water to 90 per cent of the population and sanitation services to 70 per cent during the next three years.
In March, Finland made a clear increase in support for the water sector of Nepal by signing an agreement on 9.8 million euros in support to WASH, the UNICEF water, sanitation and hygiene programme.
Cooperation between UNICEF’s WASH programme and bilateral programmes strengthens comprehensive planning of the water sector in Nepal. This also includes close dialogue with non-governmental organisations. In addition, Finland finances the presence of a young Finnish assistant expert at the UNICEF office in Kathmandu.
Finland and Nepal have carried out cooperation in the water and sanitation sector for nearly twenty years. In Nepal, Finland is known as a skilled and reliable helper in developing rural water supply and sanitation services. Clean water supply and appropriate treatment of waste waters are important objectives in Nepal’s development plans.
Finland launched a new phase of the rural water supply and sanitation project in Western Nepal in summer 2008. The project in Western Nepal utilises the good practices embraced in six districts of the Lumbini Zone.
The arsenic removal programme is an important aspect of the water projects in the Terai lowland region. Groundwater arsenic levels in Kapilbastu, Rupandehi and Nawalparasi have been found to exceed the health norms. The project advises village communities about the health risks of arsenic and strengthens local people’s ability to build and maintain arsenic removal solutions adapted to local conditions. Ramboll Finland Oy is responsible for support services. The project has a total budget of about 12.9 million euros, of which Finland’s share is 9.7 million.
The rural village water resources management project started in ten districts of the Far and Mid-Western Nepal in 2006 is being continued. The project improves the livelihood and quality of life of the population in remote districts by promoting sustainable use of water. During the first phase of the project, 100,000 people received access to safe drinking water and sanitation services. Finnish support during the period 2006-2015 amounts to 25.7 million euros. FCG Finnish Consulting Group is responsible for support services.
UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is the oldest of the UN’s operative development funds and programmes. The organisation’s activities are based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF is the only organisation in the UN system that concentrates specifically on the affairs of children.
Finland gives UNICEF mostly general funding for the basic functions of the organisation. The general funding to UNICEF in 2010 was 16 million euros, and this year it will rise to 16.5 million. The intention is to increase this general funding moderately in the coming years.
Finland’s support for the organisation’s humanitarian aid activities came to over 5 million euros in 2009. In addition, support has been granted for UNICEF’s thematic funds and for some country-specific projects.