Access to Sanitation and Hygiene for All (ASHA)

Nepal is categorised as one of 48 Least Developed Countries in the world. It ranks at 145 out of 188 in the Human Development Index, and about one-fourth of the population lives below the poverty line. The per capita GDP is 752 USD . In 2014, population distribution was projected at 62% rural and 38% urban, and the country has been urbanizing rapidly at the rate of 3.62%. The country has a strategy to graduate to a Developing Country status by 2022, but the 2015 Earthquake and political turmoil have been significant set-backs. The effects of climate change in Nepal vary widely and are difficult to predict, due to its varied topographic conditions. Increasing resilience is thus the only answer, plans exist but implementation is lagging.

Regarding WASH, Nepal has become famous for its “sanitation movement” in South Asia. By 2011, the country had met its MDG target of 53% sanitation access, and further progressed to 88% of the population now, and 41 of its 75 districts having achieved universal sanitation coverage. A key success factor has been the 2011 National Sanitation and Hygiene Master Plan that aligned all stakeholders towards achieving 100% sanitation access by 2017 through a zero-subsidy policy and area-wide coverage. Water supply coverage has improved from 73% in 2000 to 86% in 2015. Albeit the success, significant challenges need to be addressed. WASH associated diseases remain among the top ten causes of child morbidity and 41% of the under-5 population has severe stunting. Inequities remain in access to and levels of services and adoption of hygiene practices amongst minority and low-caste ethnic and religious groups, and vulnerable populations such as the disabled, poor, and women-headed households. Water sources are under stress due to climate change, environmental degradation, and over-extraction. Sustainability is a key issue as only 25% of water supply schemes are fully functional, WASH facilities in schools and health facilities are often inadequate and public toilets are also lacking or not operational. The lack of sanitation facilities and awareness also calls for menstrual hygiene management improvement.

The districts of Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk located in Province 3 were highly affected by the massive earthquake with a magnitude 7.8 righter scale on April 25, 2015. The earthquake had damaged more than 80% of the water supply systems in the project area. In close collaboration, the IHHWI project* and the Safaa Paani Project** have been working to support rural communities to restore and improve WASH infrastructure and improved hygiene practices. Data*** indicates that in June 018, 82.25% people at Sindhupalchowk and 83.75% at Dolakha have now access to water supply nearby.

SEBAC conducted a need assessment at the programme area. The outcomes of this assessment will be feed into the design and implementation of the programme. The main challenges that are identified are:

  • WASH Behavior such as handwashing practices, child feces management and solid waste management – especially plastic – is still a problem;
  • More than 30% people did not have access of safe water in the project areas and have to carry water at 20-30 minute walking distance;
  • Filtration system of water for drinking purposes at schools is not always available
  • People are using direct water from tap without adopting treatment options – which are needed to prevent water-borne diseases such as diarrhea;
  • The capacity of WASH-Coordination Committees at ward/community level need to be enhanced in order to establish a sustainable governance system;
  • To sustain the status Open Defecation Free zone, a number of toilets needs to be constructed in the public places;
  • The hard to reach areas in the districts are still left behind and still have no access to safe water.

Research reveals a gender disparity in access to water in Nepal, and that access to water sources are inclined to benefit men more than women . A similar picture is sketched for the participation of women in WASH governance. Women are often restricted from participating in social and community work due to household activities and responsibilities. The patriarchal system embedded in Nepali culture also limits women’s agency and participation in WASH related policy and practice. Women are not involved in the planning, operation, or maintenance of drinking water supply in Nepal. Although the Government of Nepal and its development partners have prioritized. Gender and Social inclusion (GESI) in policy, its implication in practice is often constrained by patriarchal culture. Women are by regulation to be included in positions in Water and Sanitation User Committees (WSUCs). However, assigning the positions is often done without their consent or the women lack the skills to effectively do their jobs. Women are interested in participating and attending meetings, but they are restricted by social norms that also often prevent them from speaking out.****

*This programme was funded by Dopper, and implemented in close collaboration with Simavi
**This programme was funded by USAID
***Source: DWSSO Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha
**** WaterAid 2009
continue to objectives

To enhance access for quality of drinking water, improve sanitation status and hygiene behavior, local governance and maintenance of WASH facilities, and empower local women and socially excluded groups.

This objective will be reached through the following sub objectives:

  • People using the water services that are constructed;
  • Improved WASH governance;
  • Improved hygiene behavior in communities and schools;
  • Women empowerment in the involvement in (the development of) WASH facilities;
  • Increased knowledge of community people on WASH.
continue to approach

Sustainable improved WASH practices can be achieved by combining enabled access to infrastructure with ensuring the continuous effort of all WASH stakeholders, and synergizing the activities with government counterparts. In the new ASHA programme, Simavi and SEBAC will build upon the lessons learned and expertise gained in the past years.

The programme has a few key pillars to achieve its objective:

People using the water services constructed: improved and equitable access to drinking water

The programme focuses both on the construction and renovation of new drinking water supply schemes of those people most left behind. Within the programme, new drinking water supply schemes will be constructed and older ones in will be renovated on rehabilitated*. The communities, and especially the women, will be actively involved in the development of the water schemes. Before the planning, a needs assessment will be done, and the community members will be active in the governance through the participation in a water users committee. Also, a public audit will be done after the construction to ensure transparency and accountability. Under this activity, schools will also be provided with water filters, as it was found that schools do not treat water and school children are therefore using unsafe water which causes WASH related problems.

Improved WASH Governance

To address the challenges with non-functional WASH infrastructure, the programme will focus on the good WASH governance – a critical issue in the WASH sector. This will be done through the anchoring of roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved and the establishment of water user committees that will invite active women members to participate. The identified stakeholders will be trained on construction standards, operation and maintenance, financial management, sustainability, participatory development of climate-resilient water safety plans**, environmental compliance, record keeping and leadership development.
To ensure long-term functionality of the water schemes, a insurance for the water systems will be introduced (paid by the community). An operation and maintenance fund will be established – which is 50% funded by the community itself at its establishment. Additionally, a link will be made with community level saving groups – to manage the savings in a good way, and possibly apply for loans in the future – if needed for operation and maintenance.

Increased knowledge of community people on WASH & Improved hygiene behavior in communities and schools

In order to address the existing challenges on hygiene – a comprehensive hygiene promotion strategy will be developed. This strategy will focus on the promotion of the achievement of the Sanitation and Hygiene Master plans which promotes total sanitation. The water user committees will play a key role in promoting hygiene. Part of the activities are the promotion of handwashing stations, the mobilization and capacity building of female health volunteers who will promote hygiene – for example via mother’s groups and adolescents groups. Within objective, awareness for WASH will also be done through the celebration of WASH-related events***, household visits, school visits and health post visits. The health post will also be trained in taking up their roles and responsibilities in promoting sanitation and hygiene.

In the delivery of the hygiene promotion, local leaders will be actively mobilized and women will be given a prominent role within the whole programme design and implementation. It is assumed that the increased knowledge will directly lead to improved hygiene behavior in the communities.

Women empowerment in the involvement in (the development of) WASH facilities

To ensure that the needs and wishes of women are being addressed in the programme, they will be invited to participate in the design of the programme. Also, women will be trained on leadership, and in each water user committee – the aim is to have (at least) 50% of women members, who are involved in the actual decision making. Women networks will be established/strengthened/activated to advocate for the right to WASH, and women leadership and participation.

Furthermore, the ASHA programme hosts a local Young Expert candidate; the local programme coordinator. Having talented (young) people is key to achieving Simavi’s objectives – and driving sustainable change from within Nepal. The participates in batch 19 of the Young Expert Programme will support the personal development of Kumar, but also be a key in Simavi’s integrated WASH/SRHR approach to ensure a healthy life for all.

* This activity will be done in cooperation with the Safaa Paani programme (that is extended until mid-2020), and on a cost sharing basis with the government.
** In the water safety plans, the profile of the water system is developed and the risks are identified – followed by the definition of mitigation strategies and responsible persons.
*** Examples of these days are: world toilet day, water day, sanitation week, global handwashing week
continue to result


Activities Direct BeneficiaryNo. of people
Formation/reformation/Activation of WUSC’s27
New water schemes (3)660
Renovated water schemes (33)7.260
Rehabilitated water schemes (20)4.400
WASH capacity building training to the local government16
WASH training of health staff16
Women leadership and WASH training16
Engage ward committees on WASH and ODF strategies51
Training Female Community Health Volunteer459
Review and reflection meeting with the local government30
Establishing/Strengthening local women network51
WASH promotion specifically targeted to mothers groups and adolescents girls9.180
Scholars who benefit from water filters1.000
Coordination meetings with WASH stakeholders180
Joint Monitoring Visits (6)36
Community visits (households, schools, etc.)15.000
Total people reached:            38.382
Situation Approach Result

Programme information

  • Simavi Budget

    € 406.591

  • Overal Budget

    € 406.591

  • 3 years

  • Location

    Access to Sanitation and Hygiene for All (ASHA) project increases the sustainable access to WASH in the two earthquake-affected districts. About 90% housing construction is completed in the project areas and the access of water in the working areas is 82%.

    ASHA project operates in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha Districts, where the 2015 earthquakes damaged many of the water supply systems and public infrastructure, resulting in widespread hardship and challenging conditions for public health and socio-economic development. The ASHA project will work in 7 municipalities and 16 wards in Dolakha and 9 municipalities and 35 wards in Sindhupalchowk.

    • Sindhupalchowk
    Sindhupalchowk District is a part of Province No. 3 and one of the 75 districts of Nepal, with an area of 2,542 sq. km. The district's headquarters is in Chautara. Although this district is close to Nepal's capital Kathmandu, it is one of the least developed districts in Nepal. The district is mountainous and rich in natural resources.

    • Dolakha
    Dolakha, the mountainous district of Janakpur Zone is situated in the central Development Region of Nepal. The total land area of Dolakha district is 2,191 sq. km. adjoining Solukhumbu and Ramachhap to the east, Ramachhap and Sindhupalchowk to the south, Sindhupalchowk to the west and Tibet to the north.

  • Target groups

    The most left behind Dalit and Janajati communities who still lack access to water will be supported in the development of adequate infrastructure. Therefore, the programme targets the most left behind communities in Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk, with a focus on women and girls. Note that different people are targeted per activity (this is specified in the expected results).

  • Alliance partners


  • Implementing partners


  • Donors


  • Role of Simavi

    Programme management

Do you want to know more about Access to Sanitation and Hygiene for All (ASHA)

Please contact our colleague Selma Hilgersom

+31 (0)88 31 31 586

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