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Published on: 13/03/2024

Participants of the training of trainers (ToT) workshop on WASH system strengthening

Photo caption: Participants of the training of trainers (ToT) workshop on WASH systems strengthening in Nepal. Credit: IRC

Co-written by Towhidur Rahaman and Ruchika Shiva, Director of IRC's Regional Asia Programme

Agenda for Change is a collaboration of like-minded organisations, which support national and local governments to strengthen water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems. IRC WASH provides technical assistance and capacity building to Agenda for Change partners in Nepal to ensure that strong WASH systems are in place. It led a training of trainers (ToT) 4-day workshop on WASH systems strengthening from 19 to 22 December 2023 in Nepal for four Agenda for Change partner organisations CARE Nepal, Helvetas Nepal, WaterAid and Welthungerhilfe.

A total of 27 participants from 20 different organisations attended the training. Through group discussions, the participants identified the levels of influence and interest of the main WASH sector actors in Nepal (see fig. 1 and 2 below).

Levels of influence and interest of main water sector actors in Nepal

Fig. 1. Actors in the Water Sector

Levels of influence and interest of main sanitation and hygiene sector actors in Nepal 

Fig. 2. Actors in the Sanitation and Hygiene Sector

Key WASH institutions in Nepal

Nepal has several key institutions involved in the WASH sector within the three tiers of government as shown in table 1. These institutions play vital roles in policy formulation, planning, implementation, and oversight of WASH-related activities in the country.

Key WASH Institutions in Nepal

Tab. 1: Key WASH Institutions in Nepal

Nepal's WASH challenges: coordination, capacity, and monitoring gaps

Despite progress, Nepal faces challenges in delivering WASH services effectively. These include:

Coordination and Institutional Issues:

  • Fragmented institutional structure with unclear roles and potential duplication
  • Difficulty in coordinating between federal, provincial, and local governments after the federal system transition
  • Limited capacity of local governments, especially in rural areas, hinders project implementation and monitoring

Service Delivery and Infrastructure Challenges:

  • Many Water Supply Systems (WSS) require repair or upgrade, with only 28% currently functional
  • Discrepancies between national data and reality regarding access to basic water services
  • Weak regulations, unclear water source ownership, and climate change impacts strain infrastructure development and maintenance
  • Insufficient data on WASH indicators and inadequate monitoring systems hinder informed decision-making

Monitoring Challenges:

  • Reaching and monitoring facilities in remote areas is difficult due to Nepal's diverse topography
  • Ensuring data accuracy and securing resources for long-term monitoring pose challenges
  • Political instability and changes in leadership can disrupt WASH program prioritization
  • Complex coordination among various stakeholders leads to inefficiencies

Addressing these challenges requires strengthening coordination, building local government capacity, improving WASH infrastructure, and establishing robust monitoring systems.

IRC believes that strengthening the capacity of both government and non-government organisations in Nepal leads to better WASH outcomes. We look at the WASH system as a whole, through the lens of nine critical building blocks (see fig. 3). A WASH system is strongest when all these building blocks are in place and working effectively together at local, national and global levels.

WASH System building blocks

Fig 3. WASH System Building Blocks

IRC developed a customised version of the online WASH System Strengthening course for Nepal, which all the participants from the ToT workshop completed. The participants also used IRC's building block assessment tool, which is designed to identify strong or weak WASH systems through participatory scoring.

Group work on systems strengthening

Photo caption: Group work on systems strengthening. Credit: IRC


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