For the last one-week, a Gairigaon villager in Sergithang, Tsirang, his neighbour and four labourers have been working to connect clean drinking water to his home.

Nim Dorji, 40, said he never thought he could connect his home with drinking water.

The men’s families have been drinking water from the irrigation canal that runs below their homes until now.

He said he and his family suffer from diarrhoea several times a year. Every time he visited the hospital, health workers advised him to drink boiled water. Their family became serious about drinking boiled water after Nim’s wife got typhoid.

With new water taps constructed, he said he is eager to drink from clean pipes.

The rural water supply scheme (RWSS) project connecting Nim and his neighbour’s home with piped water would complete in about four days.

In Zomlingthang village of Gosarling gewog, at least 10 households receive water from a tank for about two hours in the morning.

A villager, Bhima Nepal, said the water is barely enough for cooking, drinking and washing purposes. “Our taps are dry most of the time. Some of our neighbours do not have water taps as well.”

She said they face acute water shortage in March and April. “In these two months, people carry water in jerry cans and buckets from a pond below the village, which is about 10 minutes walk away.”

According to statistics with the dzongkhag, Tsirang has 97 percent of RWSS reach. At least 94.6 percent of the rural population has access to safe drinking water.

But the reality is different.

Tsirangtoed is another gewog that faces acute water shortage.

Drinking water was brought to the village from Paw River, almost 18km away from Tsirangtoed through a government project three decades ago.

The water drawn from the river was first collected in a tank (Alay tank) and then supplied to Tsirangtoed Primary School, the only beneficiary then.

When people started resettling in Tsirangtoed in 2003, water from the same tank was shared. Over the years the beneficiaries increased from the lone school to almost 200 households now.

The chairman of the water committee, Tshering Dorji, said the water collected at Alay tank through the old pipeline from Paw River is shared through three outlets today.

“While one outlet goes to the Central School, another goes to Burichhu village and the third is for the residents of Tsirangtoed and Kapasey chiwog,” he said.  “The water supply to Tsirangtoed and Kapasey is shared with Soentabsa village on the way.”

He said the water drawn from the source is already scarce and the local line is shared on the way. “So, when it reaches us there is hardly any water.”

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang