© Helvetas / Narendra Shrestha

Water Use Master Plan (WUMP)

© Helvetas / Narendra Shrestha

A concept to equitably share water resources within and amongst rural communities.

The Water Use Master Plan (WUMP) is a participatory and inclusive water management plan developed by Helvetas Nepal. It is based on the concept of integrated water resource management, working at local level and building on local knowledge. Originally, WUMPs were developed through village development committees (VDCs); over the course of time, over 200 were completed. Since the establishment of Nepal’s federal system, it is municipalities, made up of a cluster of former VDCs (wards), that are responsible for planning local water supplies. Helvetas is therefore supporting the development of municipal WUMPs.

WUMPs are recognized as good practice by the government of Nepal as well as other agencies and have also been replicated outside the country.

Helvetas focuses its water activities in Nepal in Karnali province, in which lie some of the worst water hardship areas in the country. The first municipalities in the province to complete a full WUMP with Helvetas support were Naraharinath rural municipality and Kamalbazar municipality. Others are now following suit. The  participatory planning process combines social and technical elements and is integrated into local government planning processes.

Preparatory phase

Before starting a WUMP Helvetas signs an agreement with the concerned municipality, which then selects a local NGO service provider, in coordination with Helvetas. The NGO is responsible for social mobilization (bring people together for meetings, organizing training sessions) with support and guidance from Helvetas. It is important that the WUMP is fully integrated into municipal planning processes as it covers many different aspects and may also be impacted by other development activities – most notably road construction.

Capacity Building phase

This entails raising awareness at community level about the importance of planning and using water resources in a fair and effective manner. With our NGO partner, we hold municipal and ward (former VDC) meetings to inform people about the WUMP process and invite them to participate.

Assessment phase

In the field, we facilitate a series of participatory mapping exercises, in which community members identify all existing water sources in the area. Any existing water supply schemes, small scale irrigation schemes, recharge ponds, and other relevant water uses are included on the map. At the same time, we identify the water hardships faced by different communities, the number of people affected, and the disaster risk potential of the area.

Helvetas engineers then conduct a technical assessment, ground truthing the map using GPS, measuring the discharge of each source, and calculating the annual flow. Any existing schemes are assessed as to whether they are functioning, partially functioning and in need of repair, or requiring major renovation.

Planning phase

Once mapping and reporting is complete, the future schemes are prioritized by community members at ward and municipal level. Since the whole WUMP process is conducted in an open, participatory manner, it allows for all water users to express an opinion, and for the decisions to be negotiated and accepted through consensus. The ultimate product, the WUMP, is then ratified by the municipality. Following a WUMP, Helvetas implements the top prioritized schemes.

Implementation phase

The implementation of selected interventions – whether drinking water, small irrigation schemes or watershed conservation – first entails a detailed survey and design by Helvetas engineers. Our partner NGO then identifies all the households that will benefit from the intervention and facilitates the formation of a user committee of women and men who are representative of the group. The committee members are given training on the construction process, which they then oversee – with technical support from NGO and Helvetas staff. Public reviews and public audits are conducted during construction and once it is completed. All the users contribute a small fee to an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) fund which is managed by the committee to ensure small repairs are conducted when needed.  One person is selected to receive training as a maintenance worker and undertake such tasks, although major maintenance work is the responsibility of the municipality.

Further information

Learn more about our recommendations and findings related to WUMP as well as about our methods applied and download the full publications:

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