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Call for private investment in drinking water and sanitation sector

Experts have called for attracting private investment for expanding the service of pure drinking water which is so far accessible to merely 20 percent citizens.
Surya Bahadur gurung, drinks water lifted by solar powered system, Siddhathani CFUG, Dharam Pani VDC, Tanahu (Image for Representation) Image Courtesy: WWF Nepal

N24 Staff Writer, KATHMANDU: Experts have called for attracting private investment for expanding the service of pure drinking water which is so far accessible to merely 20 percent citizens.

The Nepal Constitution Clause 35 has specified that every citizen has the fundamental right to access pure drinking water and sanitation service. However, the work progress is sluggish towards expanding the reach of the service as five years have already elapsed since the constitution was promulgated.

In this connection Regional Representative of Banker and Global Alliance of Banking on Value Asia Pacific Upendra Poudel said there is a dire need of alluring private investment by exploring alternative measures so as to provide pure drinking water to the remaining 80 percent population.

Banking investment would come if the government put the drinking water and sanitation in the priority area, he said. The banks of Nepal even did not think for investment in the hydropower sector till the decade of 1990 but the sector has received a considerable amount of investment after the government kept it in the priority area.

Banks would spur their investments in the area of drinking water and sanitation if they were assured of getting back principal amount and interest of the investment. Experts noted that the individuals with business repute should first come to invest in such projects.

The banks and financial institutions are also exploring different areas for investment. The backs which spurred their investment in carpet and garments gradually shifted to hydropower, hotel, cable car, agriculture and cement in the later days.

Though there has been no direct investment of banks in drinking water projects, the size of their investment in solar pumping and pumping component of housing and hotel seems remarkable.

Secretary of the National Planning Commission Kewall Bhandari also highlighted the need of alternative programmes in a way to support the government’s ongoing efforts to provide the drinking water and sanitation service to the entire Nepali citizens by attaining the goals stipulated by the Nepal Constitution, 15th Periodic Plan and SDG Goal-16. He said that the small banks could flow their investment in micro projects.

Smart Water Director Suman Shakya presented an example that they took the initiative in 140 schools to provide pure drinking water to the public on their own and demanded a policy to incentivize the actors promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the new areas of drinking water.

Founder of the Asia Water Council Dr Bindunath Lohani stressed on the economic cooperation and investment in the design and implementation of feasible drinking water projects.

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