Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


UN: Forget Foreign Aid, Nepal Needs a Good Plumber

• January 03, 2013 • 9:08 AM

toilet-and-handwashing-stand-nepal-300x224

Handwashing stand, Nepal image: endtheneglect.org

Via IRIN:

The United Nations reports that hundred of millions of dollars invested to provide clean water and sewage in Nepal haven’t budged disease rates for water-related illness in children one bit. What went wrong? Citing statistics from Nepal’s water authority, the world body claims that the number of kids with serious water-related illness remains exactly the same as it was ten years ago: 14 percent. That sounds low, but intestinal problems and dehydration are among the most serious threats to children under five in Nepal, as is true in most countries with sketchy water systems.

Where’d the money go?  A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene officer with the UN office in Kathmandu, Madhav Pahari, argued it all went to a few places, rather than generally through the country.

If a water tap built by one agency stops running, instead of repairing it, locals will request a different agency to build a new water supply system. As a result, some village development committees (VDCs) are saturated with water supply schemes, while others have none, said UNICEF’s Pahari.

That sounds absurd. Why did they do that? Sudha Shrestha, another UN official in Nepal, whose job appears to be to get pissed at the local government, argued it was about the need to show quick success against a thorny problem.

Water and sanitation projects too often target communities most easily reached by road or air, which are already better-off, said Shrestha at UN-HABITAT. “If I go to a district for an intervention, I will choose a place where I can get quick results.”

OK. But what’s with all the shouting now? The report from IRIN—the UN’s news service—reads (see link above) like somewhat of a messaging exercise, designed to express the world body’s frustration with the failure of aid programs, at the hands of the local bodies. Nanda Bahadur Khanal, an engineer in the Kathmandu urban development department, seems onboard, and is pretty specific about why. We’ll see if Khanal’s still getting invited to work tomorrow.

Officials have only recently identified that in addition to last year’s $43.3 million WASH budget, another $19 million was funneled by donors to water and sanitation projects, but not in collaboration with any government agencies and, therefore, did not appear on any official expense statements. “Externally channeled money makes up about 30 percent of investment in the sector, but its geographical coverage is not even 5 percent,” calculated Khanal at the MoUD. “That money has not been used effectively.”

 

Marc Herman

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

October 21 • 4:00 AM

She’s Cheating on Him, You Can Tell Just by Watching Them

New research suggests telltale signs of infidelity emerge even in a three- to five-minute video.


October 21 • 2:00 AM

Cheating Demographic Doom: Pittsburgh Exceptionalism and Japan’s Surprising Economic Resilience

Don’t judge a metro or a nation-state by its population numbers.


October 20 • 4:00 PM

The Bird Hat Craze That Sparked a Preservation Movement

How a fashion statement at the turn of the 19th century led to the creation of the first Audubon societies.


October 20 • 2:00 PM

The Risk of Getting Killed by the Police If You Are White, and If You Are Black

An analysis of killings by police shows outsize risk for young black males.


October 20 • 12:00 PM

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they’re motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.


October 20 • 11:00 AM

My Dog Comes First: The Importance of Pets to Homeless Youth

Dogs and cats have both advantages and disadvantages for street-involved youth.


October 20 • 10:00 AM

Homophobia Is Not a Thing of the Past

Despite growing support for LGBT rights and recent decisions from the Supreme Court regarding the legality of same-sex marriage, the battle for acceptance has not yet been decided.


October 20 • 8:00 AM

Big Boobs Matter Most

Medical mnemonics are often scandalous and sexist, but they help the student to both remember important facts and cope with challenging new experiences.


October 20 • 6:00 AM

When Disease Becomes Political: The Likely Electoral Fallout From Ebola

Will voters blame President Obama—and punish Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections—for a climate of fear?


October 20 • 4:00 AM

Coming Soon: The Anatomy of Ignorance


October 17 • 4:00 PM

What All Military Families Need to Know About High-Cost Lenders

Lessons from over a year on the beat.


October 17 • 2:00 PM

The Majority of Languages Do Not Have Gendered Pronouns

A world without “he.” Or “she.”


October 17 • 11:01 AM

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.


October 17 • 10:00 AM

Can Science Fiction Spur Science Innovation?

Without proper funding, the answer might not even matter.


October 17 • 8:00 AM

Seattle, the Incredible Shrinking City

Seattle is leading the way in the micro-housing movement as an affordable alternative to high-cost city living.


October 17 • 6:00 AM

‘Voodoo Death’ and How the Mind Harms the Body

Can an intense belief that you’re about to die actually kill you? Researchers are learning more about “voodoo death” and how it isn’t limited to superstitious, foreign cultures.


October 17 • 4:00 AM

That Arts Degree Is Paying Off

A survey of people who have earned degrees in the arts find they are doing relatively well, although their education didn’t provide much guidance on managing a career.


October 16 • 4:00 PM

How (Some) Economists Are Like Doomsday Cult Members

Cognitive dissonance and clinging to paradigms even in the face of accumulated anomalous facts.


October 16 • 2:00 PM

The Latest—and Most Mysterious—Player in the Nasty Battle Over Net Neutrality

As the FCC considers how to regulate Internet providers, the telecom industry’s stealth campaign for hearts and minds encompasses everything from art installations to LOLcats.


October 16 • 12:00 PM

How Many Ads Is Too Many Ads?

The conundrum of online video advertising.


October 16 • 11:00 AM

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.


October 16 • 10:00 AM

The False Promises of Higher Education

Danielle Henderson spent six years and $60,000 on college and beyond. The effects of that education? Not as advertised.


October 16 • 8:00 AM

Faster Justice, Closer to Home: The Power of Community Courts

Community courts across the country are fighting judicial backlog and lowering re-arrest rates.


October 16 • 6:00 AM

Killing Your Husband to Save Yourself

Without proper legal instruments, women with abusive partners are often forced to make a difficult choice: kill or be killed.


October 16 • 4:00 AM

Personality Traits Linked to Specific Diseases

New research finds neurotic people are more likely to suffer a serious health problem.


Follow us


Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.

Advice for Emergency Alert Systems: Don’t Cry Wolf

A survey finds college students don't always take alerts seriously.

Brain’s Reward Center Does More Than Manage Rewards

Nucleus accumbens tracks many different connections in the world, a new rat study suggests.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.