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Water scarcity and the cultural restrictions

Mani Karmacharya | Nepal

Bijeshwori Kunwar, 17, looks mature than her actual age.

Bijeshwori, got married when she was 15. Her village, Sarmi, is one of the remotest in Jumla district in Nepal. It is characterised by widespread traditional beliefs, social traditions and cultural practices which restrict the role of women and girls within the family. One of these traditional practices is Chhaupadi (a form of menstrual taboo) impacting girls' health. Among other restrictions during menstruation, Bijeshwori has to stay in a separate room outside the family house, use separate utensils and cannot go inside the kitchen. She is not allowed to touch the community tap-stand so must walk to a natural stream 15 minutes away.
Water scarcity is something the entire community live with. Water at the community tap-stand only runs for around an hour. 160 households in the village share four community taps, which are often crowded and waiting for more than an hour is common. Sanitation and hygiene are not maintained in the village, and the primary school toilet does not work. The pipeline connected from the water source has a tiny water flow, so the students drink water directly from the pipe.

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