25-Year Journey Towards Creating Eco-Societies

25-celebration

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Indeed, as this well-known proverb by Lao Tzu states, every short or long journey requires a first step. Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) in its journey on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) took its first step on 4 November 1990. Envisioning to “Creating Eco-Societies” and touching the lives of millions, ENPHO continued its steps to take initiatives and actions in the areas of environment and public health. Research, innovations and promotion of the innovative WASH technologies have been a core priority of ENPHO. In 2015, ENPHO completed its 25-year journey that has benefitted more than 3.76 million people (2,142,698 on safe water; 493,410 on sanitation, 393,102 on integrated WASH and 308,357 on DRR and Emergency Response, and building capacity of 424,376 people on WASH).

 

Since its inception, ENPHO has succeeded in initiating at least one milestone each year. Starting from water quality monitoring of Bagmati River in 1990, ENPHO today has been able to establish itself as a pioneer in various areas of water, sanitation and hygiene. During its 25-year journey, it has completed more than 300 projects. It has footsteps in all 75 districts of Nepal through various programs. ENPHO has also reached out to various countries like Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Vietnam and Pakistan.

 

ENPHO was the first in Nepal to initiate air quality monitoring in Kathmandu valley in 1992. Later, in 2008, it developed and promoted innovative WAPIC technology (Water Pasteurization through Improved Cooking Stove) as a solution for both indoor air pollution and unsafe drinking water. ENPHO has a well-equipped Laboratory, which since 1990 has been unceasingly providing services on research, monitoring, analysis and testing of water, wastewater, urine, air, soil and faecal sludge. The Laboratory has developed a range of water quality field test kits that are being used by various National and International agencies in Nepal and abroad. It developed FRC (Free Residual Chlorine) Test Kit in 1993, ENPHO Water Quality Field Test Kit in 2001 and ENPHO Body Belt Incubator in 2014. ENPHO introduced Piyush (0.5% chlorine solution for disinfecting drinking water) in 1994 as a solution for household water treatment. In 2010, Piyush Plus (0.7% chlorine solution to treat large volumes drinking water) was introduced.

 

Some of the key innovations of ENPHO include introduction of constructed wetlands for the wastewater treatment system in Nepal (1997), construction of faecal sludge treatment plant (1998), development of Kanchan™ Arsenic Filter (2003), introduction of EcoSan toilets (2002), and promotion of rainwater harvesting system (2005).

 

ENPHO’s initiatives and innovations contributed significantly to the government’s promotion of WASH programmes in Nepal. ENPHO assisted government agencies in accelerating ODF campaigns and total sanitation campaigns stimulating people to become ‘agents of change’ in the community and live a healthy and dignified life. ENPHO has assisted in declaration of ODF in five municipalities and 15 VDCs. This benefitted 187,137 people. Considerable focus has been put on issues such as school WASH, capacity building, youth mobilization, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), gender and social inclusion. ENPHO has provided WASH services in more than 550 schools in 20 districts, built the capacity of 7,543 professionals, technicians and implementers on various WASH interventions and innovative solutions through ENPHO Water Expertise and Training Centre (WET-Centre), mobilized more than 1500 youth volunteers in WASH campaigns and trained 4,695 people on DRR and emergency WASH.

 

The devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015 aggravated various challenges. Despite the difficulties, ENPHO took a leadership role in the production of Piyush and to train and mobilize youth volunteers in WASH response activities. Altogether 308,357 people directly benefitted from WASH intervention activities in 11 earthquake affected districts.

 

ENPHO has been constantly working in close coordination and collaboration with government agencies, relevant stakeholders and community people in order to substantially contribute in achieving the national target of providing drinking water and sanitation to all by 2017. ENPHO’s evidence-based advocacy on WASH has significantly contributed to the formulation and reformation of related policies and guidelines. For example, arsenic testing by ENPHO helped the government to initiate blanket arsenic testing programme in 20 Terai districts. ENPHO contributed in the formulation of National Drinking Water Quality Standards-2062. Likewise, ENPHO also supported the government in the formulation of Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Policy 2009 and Bagmati Action Plan.

 

For all these notable contributions in the WASH and environment sector, ENPHO received various national and international prestigious awards and recognitions: Award for Kanchan Arsenic Filter from the World Bank Development Marketplace (2003), Nepal Development Marketplace Award ‘Lau Na Aba Ta Kehi Garau’ (2005), National Environment Award (2005), Special Achievement Award (2009), 4th Kyoto World Water Grand Prize (2015) and the Humanitarian Water and Food (WAF) Award 2015.

 

To celebrate the completion of its 25-year journey, ENPHO organized a Silver Jubilee Week in March 2016 with special events. The celebration week commenced with inauguration of ENPHO WASH Centre followed by water quality testing in the valley, WASH campaigns, field observations, talk programs and a special closing ceremony. As a continuation to ENPHO’s momentum of initiating a new technology each year in the country, the first-ever faecal sludge treatment (FSM) plant in the country was inaugurated on 24 March 2016. The treatment plant in Lubhu is a demonstration of a prefab plant that can effectively treat faecal sludge from small towns and emergency camps while producing biogas, water and fertilizer but without polluting the environment.

 

Despite various hurdles and unpredictable circumstances, ENPHO continues its untiring exertions to serve communities and nation. ENPHO’s leaders with vision and the staff who worked untiringly are seeing their dreams come true. This was well reflected during ENPHO’s Silver Jubilee Celebration. But this is not the end of the horizon. Much work remains in the WASH sector and many communities are yet to be reached. The journey of ENPHO continues, uninterrupted.

 

By: Rosy Singh, Resource Centre Manager (ENPHO)