A water and environmental sanitation field survey in the Himalayas of India as a submission to the UN consultations on global water policy reforms for 2000

Khoday, Dishan
Alexandra Dawson
Department of Environmental Studies
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is currently redefining its policies for the improvement of rural water supply, sanitation and health situations in the nation of India and the world as a whole to move into the next century. The objective of the present research is to study two remote villages in a mountain ecosystem where seasonal and orographic variations play tremendous roles in the implementation of UNICEF policy at the village and micro-watershed level. The first village lies in the windward path of incoming precipitation and is endowed with relatively substantial domestic water supplies year-round. The second village lies in a rainshadow zone, suffering from relatively less precipitation and must rely heavily on a sometimes nonfunctional federal government water scheme for domestic supplies. In both villages, the dry season brings dramatic changes in hydrology and therefore agriculture, their major economic base. As water supply and sanitation services correlate heavily with general income levels, economic allocation at the village and district level must continue to be adapted to provide sufficient water to hydrologically poor villages particularly during the dry seasons. The conclusion is that UNICEF policy towards the 21st century should stress the implementation of water supply and sanitation policies which encompass the inherently variable characteristics and uniquely important status of mountain ecosystems as well as the accelerating trends in changes to watershed health and village economies throughout the Indian Himalaya.

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