Home Biratnagar Water Crisis empties a village in eastern Nepal (Photo Feature)

Water Crisis empties a village in eastern Nepal (Photo Feature)

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In Picture: A woman fetches drinking water from the Tamor River in Kurule Tenupa, one of several trips she makes daily.

Dhankuta, June 3, 2016: The cool blue waters of the Tamor flow tantalisingly past the parched village of Kurule Tenupa here in Dhankuta district in eastern Nepal, but villagers have to make multiple trips daily to carry the water up the mountain on their backs.

The village got its first drinking water supply 30 years ago. But the 18 km pipe from a faraway spring requires repairs and barely meets the needs of the village clinging to mountains that rise from the river bank at 730 m to a high ridge at 1,500 m.

For the Dalit and Majhi communities living along the river to the Tamang settlements above, the scarcity of water is now yet another hardship they have to cope with. This year, the drought and erratic weather have left the region parched and brown. Springs and ponds have dried up.

“It takes up to 20 minutes to make a single trip and we have to make at least 10 trips a day,” says Som Maya Majhi. In the past two years 154 families have left the village, and there are only 38 households left. One of the main reasons is the scarcity of water.

“If I don’t get to the well by 3 o’clock in the morning it takes hours to fill my water jar, there is only one well left and even that is drying up,” says Buddhiman Bishwokarma.

Although villagers are worried that more neighbours are locking up their homes and leaving, they have a faint hope some of them will return one day. Says 80-year-old Padam Prasad Ghimire: “If there was a project to bring back water, I think people will return.”

Supported by the 2015 photo.circle grant program

Man Kumari Tamang, 24, with her daughter Srijana, 4. Srijana has a congenital heart problem, and when Man Kumari is not taking care of her she is fetching water up from the river.
Man Kumari Tamang, 24, with her daughter Srijana, 4. Srijana has a congenital heart problem, and when Man Kumari is not taking care of her she is fetching water up from the river.

 

Although the Tamor is nearby, because there is no pump most villagers spend the entire day fetching water.
Although the Tamor is nearby, because there is no pump most villagers spend the entire day fetching water.

 

Phulmaya Tamang, 73, has to carry water because the only tap in the village doesn’t have enough water.
Phulmaya Tamang, 73, has to carry water because the only tap in the village doesn’t have enough water.

 

More than 150 springs in Kurule Tenupa have dried up, and even the Bhale Pokhari pond has no water.
More than 150 springs in Kurule Tenupa have dried up, and even the Bhale Pokhari pond has no water.

 

Even near the river, farming is entirely dependent on rain water. Villagers in this parched land wait eagerly for the monsoon rains.
Even near the river, farming is entirely dependent on rain water. Villagers in this parched land wait eagerly for the monsoon rains.

By Kishor Sharma