RSPN through the funding from SAARC Development Fund and with technical support from Engineering Sector of Samtse Dzongkhag provided a five-day basic technical training on operation and maintenance of Rural Water Supply Scheme/System (RWSS) to 12 water caretakers of Yoeseltse and Phuntshopelri Gewogs from August 22-26, 2017 at Yoeseltse Gewog Centre, Samtse. The training was conducted to build capacity of the local water caretakers on operation and maintenance of RWSS for sustainable management and functioning at the community level; and to provide hands-on-training of the water caretakers on standard operating procedures (SOPs) of RWSS.

Safe, adequate and accessible supplies of drinking water combined with proper sanitation are the essential components of primary healthcare, and lack of it can lead to spread of communicable diseases, increased health risk and environmental pollution. The National Health Survey of 2012 reports that the proportion of Bhutan’s population with access to improve drinking water source is 97.7%, and the report of the Rapid Assessment of Drinking Water Quality, which was carried out by the Royal Centre for Disease Control in 2012 showed that only 17% of the stream water sources and 28% of spring water sources were safe for drinking. This implies that assurance of safe drinking water is still a major challenge in Bhutan.

Bhutan had no standard operating procedures and drinking water quality standard until 2016, and with the accelerating development and increased in anthropogenic activities, access to safe drinking water and the quality of water resources in Bhutan may be further deteriorating. Therefore, there is an absolute need of capacity building of water caretakers at the community level for operation and maintenance of RWSS for sustainable use and regular monitoring of drinking water. Therefore, the training was conducted at an opportune time and was a great success.

As part of the theory session, WASH Project Officer presented on the water resources and its scenario in Bhutan. The water caretakers were then briefed on roles and responsibilities of water caretakers, the RWSS module, and the importance of timely operation and maintenance. During the practical session, the engineer and experienced technicians from Samtse Dzongkhag provided hands-on-training on the usage and handling of tools and the routine operation and maintenance work that are vital for assuring quality control of drinking water. The participants were trained on aspects such as joining of mainline and branch-lines using both GI and HDP pipes, fabrication of ‘BEND, Y, TEE and CROSS’, carrying out repairs works, and finally on how to clean the tanks. Each caretaker was provided with the Water Caretaker’s Manual and a Tool Box. The training concluded with the award of certificate to the participants by the Gup of Yoeseltse Gewog.

 

RSPN would like to thank SDF for the fund support and Samtse Dzongkhag for their continued technical support. We would also like to thank the 12 participants who shared that they gained valuable knowledge and technical skills through the training. It was encouraging to see the water caretakers confident of henceforth undertaking the operation and maintenance services by themselves.

 

Reported by: Tsheten Dorji, Project Officer, WASH.