Gender equality and social inclusion in community-led multiple use water services in Nepal

The Constitution of Nepal 2015 enshrines everyone’s right of access to clean water for drinking and the right to food. The common operationalization of the right to water for drinking is providing access to infrastructure that brings water for drinking and other basic domestic uses near and at homesteads. Challenges to achieving this goal in rural areas include: low functionality of water systems; expansion of informal self supply for multiple uses; widespread de facto productive uses of water systems designed for domestic uses; growing competition for finite water resources; and male elite capture in polycentric decision-making. This paper traces how the Nepali government and nongovernmental organizations in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), irrigation and other sectors have joined forces since the early 2000s to address these challenges by innovating community-led multiple use water services (MUS). The present literature review of these processes complemented by field research supported by the Water for Women Fund focuses on women in vulnerable households.