KATHMANDU : Experts have called for attracting private investment to expand pure drinking water services that as of now are accessible to merely 20 percent Nepali citizens.
The Nepal Constitution Clause 35 has specified that every citizen has the fundamental right to access pure drinking water and sanitation service. However, with five years already having elapsed since the constitution was promulgated, work progress in expanding the reach of the service has been sluggish.
In this connection, Regional Representative of Banker and Global Alliance of Banking on Value Asia Pacific Upendra Poudel has said that there is a dire need to attract private investments by exploring alternative measures in order to provide pure drinking water to the remaining 80 percent.
Banking investments will pour in if the government lists drinking water and sanitation as one of its priorities, he said. The banks of Nepal had not thought about investment in the hydropower sector until the 1990s, but the sector has received a considerable amount of investment after the government prioritized it.
Banks will spur their investments in the area of drinking water and sanitation if they are assured of getting back principal amount and interest of the investment. Experts noted that individuals with business reputations should be the first ones to invest in such projects.
The banks and financial institutions are also exploring different areas for investment. Backs that used to pour in their investments in carpet and garments have now gradually shifted to hydropower, hotel, cable car, agriculture and cement.
Although 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 for alternative programmes that support the government’s ongoing efforts to provide drinking water and sanitation services to the entire Nepali citizens, as per the goals stipulated by the Nepali Constitution, 15th Periodic Plan and SDG Goal-16. He said that the small banks should invest in micro projects.
Smart Water Director Suman Shakya presented an example where they took the initiative to provide pure drinking water in 140 schools on their own and demanded a policy to incentivize the actors promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. Founder of the Asia Water Council Dr Bindunath Lohani stressed on the need for economic cooperation and investment in the design and implementation of feasible drinking water projects.