“Water is life, save water.”
I always see these wall messages when I pass Nepal Drinking Water and Sewerage Corporation at Tripureshore. So much research and searching has been done in the name of water, billions has been spent in its name and where are the results? The catchword used is that the money is for: DEVELOPMENT. But where is the development? Billions of dollars have done nothing to improve the situation that a little common sense, a will to improve ones own situation and the initiative to do so, would have resolved a long time ago. The amount of leakage and water that is wasted is tragic. The respect for this resource is rare and education about conservation, pollution and sanitation very patchy. Our drinking water pipes are like sewerage pipes, so the name: NEPAL DRINKING WATER AND SEWERAGE CORPORATION seems somewhat appropriate. The top brass of this corporation seem quite incapable of coping with the problem, but enjoy occupying the top seats. Travelling abroad, attending seminars and meetings seem to be their brief but Nepal’s water problem remains unchanged. Life started from water and it will end if water is not available. I wonder when I see interest growing in this tiny country if it is primarily about how to divert our water. We have it in abundance but don’t know how to utilise it correctly and others need. Water should be shared for the well being of all, there is no doubt about that, but sharing does not mean snatching and depriving millions of citizens of their own resources. It means ensuring by correct use and conservation that there is enough for all.
Every human being and most forms of life on this planet need water. But the simple issue is: in providing water to someone, one must not snatch, steal or divert others systems. It seems however, that in the name of various development banks and projects this is just the kind of opportunity that is sought to make a profit from. Surely there is more to life than profit and loss. When your life is lost then what is worth winning. My whole view of development projects changed when I read a book called Confession of an Economic Hit man — by Mr. John Perkins. He was a career development consultant for various such agencies and was assigned to accomplish their interests. Once he understood the reality of what he was actually doing, his conscience got the better of him and he decided to write this book about the reality of development loans and aid.
Why are these agencies so interested in lending money to the underdeveloped nations instead of to a developed nation? The answer is simple. Developed nations can repay their loan, whereas underdeveloped nations are unable to pay back their loans most of the time. Here comes the big game, these countries are indebt and beholden to the donors and then all sorts of manipulation can begin. Many have established permanent offices here to understand the situation and pin point weakness of the poor countries and hit them there perfectly. Sometimes they are even ready to write off their capital sum amount if they can succeed in signing another agreement where their countries consultants and families in tow are engaged to sort out the problem. Once the agreement is signed they are all happy, parties in five star hotels are arranged, as most of the loan money will find its way back into the pockets of their own countrymen. This is all of a very dubious nature, but I don’t wholly blame the foreign agencies, for this to happen it has to be supported by the poor countries own policy makers and leaders. It Takes Two to Tango. When you allow it then others may cheat you and take advantage of you. The usual practice here for decades has been to sign anything, shake hands and take photographs smiling. That photo headlines in the next days media as if the policy makers and donors have done something great. In fact it’s another disaster and looser for Nepal and the only winners are probably the people in the photo. Sometimes it’s the water game, sometimes health or education sometimes this sometimes that but how long can this type of fooling continue. The relevant Nepali authorities must scrutinise all agreements vigilantly with only the whole countries interests at heart. Not their own, their families, their party or the agencies interests. They must be honest and understand each and every word or implication of what they are signing. Only then can we check this type of nonsense. Let us face it. “Water is life, we must save water or we will all die and then what use is development.”