Binaya Raj Shrestha


Binaya Raj Shrestha is Project Manager in Practical Action Nepal Office under the theme Urban Water Sanitation and Waste.

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Posts by Binaya Raj

  • Water is life, only if it’s safe!

    Bardiya, Nepal,
    March 22nd, 2013

    The recent (2011) census in Nepal revealed that 82.78% of people have access to improved drinking water supply. The figure is satisfying as it indicates crossing the MDG target and approaching the national target of universal coverage. However, there is a big question mark in the quality aspects. Water is a good solvent; it’s often called a universal solvent as many substances are easily dissolved in. Therefore, there is always risk of water contamination. It’s thought that most people are not aware about impurities in water and just judge water with their senses like sight or smell.

    Water chocking around the tube-well

    Water chocking around the tube-well

    A survey conducted by Practical Action in six urban poor communities of mid-western Nepal (Bardiya) in 2009 showed that drinking water is contaminated  chemically (ammonia, phosphate, iron and arsenic) and biologically (presence of e-coli). Nevertheless, 89% of respondents in the survey were happy with the quality of drinking water. It was also found that 98% of people didn’t practice any water purifying methods before consumption.

    Many people in the developing world – 35% of people in Nepal (census 2011) – rely on tube wells or hand pumps for drinking water. Mostly tube wells extract water from the first aquifer or ground water up to 20 feet. It’s seen that ground water sources in such cases are easily contaminated because of the lack of appropriate management. In many cases in Bardiya, a small pond of stagnant water forms near tube wells. In such cases how can quality water be expected? Further, it is found that water handling and storage is also an issue.

    No doubt, water is life, but we need to consider both quantity and quality. Some simple steps like education on water quality, low cost household water treatment options, platform improvement for tube wells, grey water management and proper water handling can make a big difference in water quality that ultimately leads to a healthier life.

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  • Clean hands for healthy life

    Kathmandu 44600, Nepal, Kathmandu
    October 11th, 2012

    Let us get involved on Global Hand Washing Day on 15th October

    A study performed by Practical Action Nepal Office with its partners in 2009 in peri-urban areas of Gulariya municipality in mid-west revealed that most of the people wash their hands before eating food and after going to toilet.

    The survey performed in six poor communities with more than 5,000 people showed that 99 and 93 percent people wash their hand before eating food and after going to toilet respectively. It shows that still there are some people who do not wash hands in critical times.

    Another figure is even scarier: only 12 percent people wash hand with soap water before eating food; mostly (85 percent) wash hands just with water. More than 50 percent people do not wash hand with soap water after going to toilet. It is also interesting to know that there is a misconception that the excreta of breast feeding children is not harmful; thus people do not wash their hand after touching it. More than 40 percent people admitted not washing their hand after anal cleansing of their children.

    Each year 1.5 million people mostly children less than five years old die because of diarrhea globally. Proper hand washing with soap is the most effective intervention in order to reduce such losses. It is more relevant in case of Nepal as most of the people use hands for anal cleansing as well as eating food creating high risks of fecal oral transmission. Looking at the importance of hand washing, global hand washing day has begun to celebrate since 2008 on every 15th of October. This year on 15th of October more than 100 countries are celebrating hand washing day with a theme on “Help More Children Reach Their 5th Birthday”.

    Similar to other developing countries, water sanitation related diseases are amongst the top killers in Nepal. 14700 people are dying each year because of unsafe water, lack of sanitation and unhygienic behaviors. An another estimate shows that 12700 children under five die because of acute respiratory infection (ARI) and diarrheal disease annually due to poor hygiene and sanitation. There is about 10 billion Nepalese Rupees (£7.4 million) loss each year in terms of health expenses, loss of productivity and negative effect in tourism because of poor hygiene and environmental sanitation.

    To overcome this situation awareness raising on the importance of hand washing with soap water in critical time is very important. Capacity building of existing local change agents like female community health volunteers (FCHVs), school teachers and students then their mobilization in raising awareness can accelerate better health outcomes.

    On the other hand, there are other significant proportions of people who know about the importance but not practicing accordingly. There is a proverb that it is very difficult to wake a person pretending to be sleeping – because behavior change is complex. People normally do not easily accept the new habits although it is beneficial for them. One of the effective ways is to train people since their childhood. House and school can be a good platform to gain healthy habits.  Generally, hand washing facilities like wash basin and soap case are kept in such a way that it is very difficult to reach by children. Thus, there is also a need to consider child friendly facilities in schools where children spend a significant proportion of time. Children can be effective change agents. There are several examples that children have changed the habit of adults.

    There is no doubt that proper hand washing with soap water saves life. Washing hands with water alone is significantly less effective than washing with soap no mater of any type. Other personal hygiene along with integration of safe drinking water and better sanitation further reduce environmental health risk. Prevention is always better than cure; thus let us join hands for creating healthy homes through healthy habits and leaving unhygienic behaviors.

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  • Integration of water sanitation hygiene and indoor air for healthy life

    Kathmandu 44600, Nepal, Kathmandu
    October 9th, 2012

    Each year 1.5 million people die because of diarrhea and another 1.6 million people die because of indoor air pollution (IAP) globally.  Water sanitation related diseases and indoor air pollution (IAP) are amongst the top killers in Nepal. 14700 people are dying each year because of unsafe water, lack of sanitation and unhygienic behaviors. There is another estimates that 12700 children under five die because of acute respiratory infection (ARI) and diarrheal disease annually due to poor hygiene and sanitation Similarly, 7500 people are dying each year due to IAP, a kitchen killer. Among these deaths, more than 50 percent are of age under 5. WASH (water, air, sanitation and hygiene) related diseases attributes for more than 10 percent death each year in Nepal. There is an estimate that about 10 billion Nepalese Rupees loss each year because of poor hygiene and environmental sanitation. Similarly, there is another estimate of about 10 billion Nepalese Rupees annual loss due to IAP.

    The project SWASHTHA (Strengthening Water, Air, Sanitation and Hygiene Treasuring Health) is therefore designed to contribute in reducing such losses through integrated WASH interventions in some urban and peri-urban areas of Nepal.  SWASHTHA project focuses to improve the health and well being of the urban and peri urban settlements of Bharatpur, Butwal, Gulariya and Tikapur municipalities. The project is working in 19 communities in these four municipalities and 2 Village Development Committes (VDCs) of Chitawan district.  The project also focuses on the few urban environmental problems of some neighboring municipalities and small towns like Ratnagar, Ramgram, Sidharthanagar, Sunawal, Bardaghat and Kawasoti. The four year (2009 – 2012) project is funded by European Union under its Non-State Actors in Development (NEPAL) programme and co-financed by UN-HABITAT’s Water for Asian Cities Programme. The project’s implementing partners are Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN), Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) and Practical Action Nepal Office as Non State Actors (NSA) and respective municipalities and VDCs as State Actors. The overall objective of the project is to improve health and wellbeing of vulnerable population especially, women and children residing in urban and periurban communities of project areas. The expected outcomes of the project are to reduce health cost through preventing WASH related diseases, creating clean environment and improved hygiene practice.

    An integrated approach of SWASHTHA project

    Safe water is the first component of the project. Water should not only be safe in source but it should be safe till it is consumed. It is therefore important to deliver safe drinking water from its catchments to consumers (“in Nepali Mul Dekhi Mukh samma”). Low cost household water treatment options like boiling, chlorination, filtration and SODIS (solar disinfection) methods are promoted in project communities. Concrete platforms are constructed to avoid ground water source protection. Better sanitation is the second major component, where sanitizing faeces is a key facet. The project promotes low cost toilets as per the choice of households including single pit pour flush, wet ECOSAN, dry ECOSAN and bio gas attached toilets. Alongside, dish washing platform (Juthelno), dish drying rack (Chang) and cattle shed improvement are also promoted to better health outcomes. Use of local resources has been encouraged while promoting such interventions.

    Hygiene is the third component of the project. Local change agents like Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs), teachers and students are trained and mobilized to aware beneficiaries for safe hygiene practices. Kitchen management is the fourth component of the project. Major project interventions to reduce IAP are promotion of improved cooked stoves (ICS), ventilation improvement, bio gas and kitchen space management. Fifth and the last component of the project is waste management. The project has promoted 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) principle in managing solid waste of project communities. Household and community composting are some of the major interventions under this component.

    Access of safe water is increased to the beneficiaries. Two communities have been declared as safe water community (SWC). The project with the support of local stakeholders are able to declare open defecation free (ODF) in 14 project communities out of 21. OD is significantly reduced in other remaining communities too. People have expressed that awareness on hygiene has increased and adopted safe hygiene practices accordingly. More than 300 FCHVs are trained on each component of the project and are mobilized in the project communities. Pollution level of indoor air in intervened households has reduced significantly. Similarly, awareness of waste management has also increased. Further, a community in Chitwan has been declared as SWASHTHA (Healthy) community after satisfactory interventions of all project components.

    Changing behavior of people is complex as change might be discomfort even it is better. Project has applied ignition participatory rural appraisal (IPRA) tools to trigger behavioral change. Despite of successes, it is to be mentioned that 5 to 10 percent toilet are still not being used properly, some water filters are already defunct, still some people do not wash hand properly, some installed ICS are not used and waste is not being managed properly. However in overall, there are visible positive changes in health of people in the project communities. It can be concluded that improvement on these five components definitely help to create a healthy home and with these healthy homes, a healthy community will form.

    There are some visible changes like reduction of diarrheal and smoke related diseases. FCHVs have expressed that use of rehydration medicine (Jivan Jal) has reduced significantly in project communities. Communities are cleaner because of reduction of OD and better waste management. Exact mapping of the outcomes will be revealed by health impact study being performed by an independent consultant. The study result will be measured against the baseline data taken before the project interventions in order to measure the success of the project and will be available by November 2012.

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  • First ‘healthy community’ declared in Nepal

    July 3rd, 2012

    In June, Bagbazzar in central Nepal was declared the first ‘healthy community’.  This village in the Sharadanagar area of Chitwan district now has safe water for drinking, improved sanitation facilities and better hygiene practices as well as managing waste properly.

    Improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene have reduced the incidence of water borne diseases especially diarrhoea.  Sharadanagar was declared ODF (open defecation free) area in June 2010, following Practical Action’s SWASHTHA project, which is being implemented with financial support from the European Union and UN Habitat and in partnership with ENPHO (Environment and Public Health Organization), MuAN (Municipal Association of Nepal) and the local authority.

    Chitwan was the second district in Nepal to be declared ODF but still more than half population of Nepal defecate openly. The government of Nepal has set a target of 2017 for universal basic sanitation. In August 2011, the Government launched a sanitation master plan based on this national target, emphasising that improvements in sanitation alone cannot provide better health.

    The SWASHTHA project team has developed a set of criteria to assess total sanitation in a community or area.  The whole community should have fulfilled the following requirements to declare a healthy community:

    1. Proper use of toilets with access to water
    2. Hand washing with soap or a cleaning agent at critical times(before eating, feeding children, cooking and serving food, after using the toilet and waste handling
    3. Safe handling and treatment of drinking water
    4. Maintenance of personal hygiene (regular nail cutting, bathing, clothes washing, tooth brushing etc.);
    5. Proper solid and liquid waste management inside and outside the home
    6. All households should have toilet and  hand washing facilities
    7. Availability of cleaning equipment at the toilet
    8. Covering food and water
    9. Regular cleaning of rooms, yards, and household compounds
    10. Managed animal sheds
    11. Covered waste water pit
    12. Availability of improved cooking stove/bio-gas and improved kitchen management;
    13. All public institutions should have hygienic toilets with hand washing and proper waste management facilities shown on a map
    14. Community committee message/slogan for healthy community.

    The project team prepared a detail checklist to map the community, which was approved by the district committee. A community that obtained a score of more than 80% could be declared a healthy community. An independent survey performed in Bagbazzar secured 84.75%.

    10,500 children die each year in Nepal from diarrhoeal disease and 10 billion rupees are lost each year in Nepal through health expenses, loss of productivity and adverse effects on tourism due to poor hygiene and environmental sanitation. The global scenario is even worse; 1.6 million people die each year due to poor water, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources. Each minute three people are dying because of poor WASH conditions. It is therefore urgent to work on integrated WASH improvement and prepare healthy communities not only in Nepal but worldwide.

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  • Cashing the trash

    Butwal, Nepal, Butwal
    May 31st, 2012

    Globally, urbanisation is accelerating at an unprecedented scale. In 2007, the proportion of people who lived in urban areas exceeded the people in rural areas. In Asia, the similar situation will happen by 2030.

    In this context, the problem of solid waste management is escalating hand in hand with urbanisation.  In most of the urban centres of developing countries, waste management is often limited to street sweeping and disposing waste into open areas like river bank, low land or in any open spaces.

    Urbanisation in Nepal is not an exception, with an urban population of 3 per cent in 1954 and increased by more than 6 fold in 2012. Municipalities who are responsible for the waste management often blame on unavailability of landfill site when the question comes on effective waste management. In fact, a decentralised waste management system is more favourable than a centralised system in terms of socio-economic aspects.

    A compost plant of Ramnagar 12, Butwal Municipality is an example of decentralised waste management. The plant is developed according to the principle of household centered environmental sanitation (HCES). The main two principles of HCES are considering waste as resource and solving environmental problems as near as it creates.

    The compost plant has demonstrated how waste can be treated as a resource. A community of 400 households separate waste as organic and inorganic. Organic waste is converted into compost and most of the inorganic waste is sold to scrap dealers. In this way, there is income from waste as well as contributing to a cleaner environment. It also reduces the cost for the management of waste to the local authority.

    The scheme handles about 1 per cent of the waste of whole municipality. However, scaling up of such practice will definitely reduce a huge amount of the expenditure of the local authorities in managing waste. At the same time, it will cut off a huge amount of greenhouse gas (methane) into the environment contributing to the climate change. Further, it will significantly reduce environmental pollution including surface and ground water pollution, as waste is generally disposed in the bank of river Tinau.

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  • Low cost toilet promotion

    Nepal, Parche
    April 16th, 2012

    Still more than 50 per cent of people in Nepal defecate in the open.

    When asked why they hadn’t built a toilet, people blamed financial constraints.

    That is because people think only about costly cemented toilet blocks – even though their houses are built using straw, timber and mud. People think they need a corrugated galvanized iron roof for a toilet, even though they are living under hay roofs. They are not aware of low cost options for toilets.

    Normally, the cost of simple toilet up to pan level or sub structure is around NPR 3,000 (£23). Actually, the part which increases toilet cost, discouraging poor people towards building toilet, is types of costly structures. That is why when working with communities to improve sanitation, Practical Action promote a ‘7 B’ approach while constructing low cost toilets. 7 B stands for the 7 different toilet structures that can be built with locally available materials:












    Bag (Jute or plastic bags)











    Bush (Hay)






















    Boulders (stone masonry)






















    Blend (mixture of two or more materials)











    The core concept of reducing the cost is the use of locally available resources, including material and human resource. It also ensures ownership, sustainability and easy promotion. The other main concept is to ensure people get into the habit of using the toilet. Improving the condition of toilet then comes in the second phase.

    Among the 7B options, normally bricks, blocks and boulders are more expensive. However, it is not always true. First class brick is not required for building toilets; it can be built with second class or even built with brick bats. Blocks with higher cement sand ratio can be used for making toilets cheaper. Also, if boulders are locally available, it can also be a cheaper option.

    You can find more information about the work we do in Nepal here and on water and sanitation here.

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  • Ecological sanitation for sustainable sanitation

    Chitwan National Park, Bharatpur 110 085, Nepal, Bharatpur
    February 4th, 2012

    2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to improved sanitation facilities. Most of them are from South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

    In the race of accessing the facilities, a lot of pit latrines or improved pit latrine have been constructed behind they are cheaper ,thus easy to promote in low income areas. However, there remains a high potential risk of contaminating the ground water which is source of drinking water for millions.

    Practical Action Nepal is therefore promoting ecological sanitation (ECOSAN) toilets in its EC supported project, Strengthening Water, Air, Sanitation and Hygiene Treasuring Health (SWASHTHA). The project is taking place in 21 communities targeting urban poor of four municipalities (Bharatpur, Butwal, Gulariya and Tikapur) in Nepal. The primary objectives of promoting ECOSAN toilets are:

    1. Reducing the health risks related to sanitation, contaminated water and waste

    2. Improving the quality of surface and groundwater

    3. Improving soil fertility

    4. Optimising the management of nutrients and water resources

    The collection system of ECOSAN toilet is different with the other conventional and modern flush cistern toilet. In this toilet, faeces and urine is collected separately.

    Ecosan toilet with different collection areas for urine and faeces

    Urine collection tank

    Nutrients in the urine are easily assimilated by plants and vegetables. However, the urine is diluted by adding water so it doesn’t burn the vegetation.

    Using diluted urine to provide nutrients to crops

    Similarly, faeces contains nutrients but there is a high risk of the presence of pathogens. Therefore, faeces can not be used directly as urine. Elimination of harmful pathogens in the faeces can be achieved by dehydration. That is why the importance of diverting the urine is dominant here. The entire process of dehydration of faeces takes about six months to one year. Then it can be used as compost.

    It was believed traditionally that faeces has more nutrient value. However, the analysis of urine and faeces reveals that urine has significantly more nutrients than faeces. Urine is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and can be used in agriculture as well as horticulture. The amount of urine collected from one person during one day is sufficient to fertilize one square metre of land. Urine collected from 30 persons for one year is sufficient to fertilize one hectare of land.

    Description Unit Urine Faeces
    Volume Litre per person per day 1.4 0.15
    Nitrogen Gram per person per day 11 1.5
    Phosphorus Gram per person per day 1 0.5
    Volume Litre per person per year 500 56

    Advantages of ECOSAN:

    1.It requires less water than in the flush cistern toilet, where flushing is necessary after each urination and defecation.

    2.It does not contribute to pollution. Both urine and human faeces are collected safely. It pollutes neither surface water nor ground water.

    3.Separately collected urine and human faeces can be used as natural fertilizer. These natural fertilizers can be easily assimilated by the plants.

    4.Improvement of health due to safe and hygienic sanitation.

    There are a few limitations in promoting ECOSAN, however:

    1.Users need to be aware how to use ECOSAN toilets. Faeces needs to be kept dry as far as possible.

    2.People have to handle faeces. Therefore, people need to be educated that faeces is not waste but is a useful resource. Further, people need to be aware of using the compost of faeces and the proper use of urine.

    3.The faeces compost needs to be handled carefully for health reasons.

    4.There is a cultural barrier in terms of handling human waste

    Material cost of an ECOSAN Toilet up to plinth level or pan level is about 8000 rupees (£64). The structure of the toilet can be built with locally available materials like bamboo, wood, boulders, mud etc.

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  • Making water safe

    Chitwan, Nepal, Royal Chitwan National Park
    January 24th, 2012

    Globally, a significant proportion of disease is due to unsafe drinking water. This accumulates further in absence of better sanitation and hygiene.

    In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that almost one tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources. The same report said that 10.6 per cent of deaths in Nepal are WSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) related. It also reported that 14,700 people die each year due to preventable diarrhoeal disease.

    Although the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage claimed that 80 per cent of total households in Nepal have access to improved drinking water (DWSS 2010), water quality is a major challenge. As more than 50 per cent of the population defecate in open spaces, drinking water contamination is a common issue.

    Water is a major medium for faecal oral transmission, causing millions of deaths globally and thousands in Nepal.

    A water safety plan is a tool that ensures the delivery of safe drinking water from its catchments to consumers (“in Nepali Mul Dekhi Mukh samma”).

    Water Safety Plans (WSPs) has been taken as a new concept and tool for managing risk in assuring water quality in water systems from source to the consumers. WSPs offer the most cost-effective and protective means of consistently assuring a supply of safe drinking water. WSPs operate through ‘catchment to consumers’ risk management approaches based on sound science and supported by appropriate monitoring. It can be applied across a wide range of situations from household solutions to community water supply schemes to large water supply utilities. WSPs identify the possible hazards in a water supply system with the level of risk, how it can be controlled and the actions required for hazard control.

    For further information on our work in Nepal on safe water, sanitation and hygiene, go to

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