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Kathmandu, 18 Oct 10

UN-HABITAT will be the Executing Agency for a major new water and sanitation programme in Nepal where it is estimated that less than half the population has access to toilets.

On October 7 this year, the Government of Nepal launched the National Sanitation Programme (NSP) supported by the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). Following a competitive selection process, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) on behalf of WSSCC, has asked UN-HABITAT to be the Executing Agency for the GSF in Nepal.

In Nepal, it is estimated that 43% of the population have access to toilets. Amongst the poor, sanitation coverage is only 12%. As a result, open defecation is rampant with frequent outbreaks of diarrheal diseases. The rapid growth of population in urban and peri-urban areas further aggravates the problem of poor water supply and environmental sanitation.

Annually, UNICEF estimates that more than 13,000 children below five years of age die of diarrheal diseases. The economic consequences are also severe – an estimated loss of over USD 140 million every year in terms of health expenses, loss of productivity and adverse impacts on tourism due to poor hygiene and environmental sanitation.

Since, 2005, through its Water for Asian Cities Programme, UN-HABITAT has worked with the Government and civil society partners in Nepal to improve water supply and environmental sanitation in urban and peri-urban areas. UN-HABITAT’s support also complements Asian Development Bank assisted projects implemented under the aegis of a collaborative framework between UN-HABITAT and ADB.

As the Executing Agency of the Global Sanitation Fund, UN-HABITAT will build on its ongoing experience, and support the government to implement its national Sanitation and Hygiene Master plan, increase sanitation coverage and establish good governance in the sanitation sector. The GSF will support proven approaches such as participatory hygiene promotion, community –led decisions and action and sanitation marketing involving the private sector. Funds amounting to USD 5 million will be provided by the WSSCC to UN-HABITAT to implement the programme over the next five years. The programme will concentrate on five districts and will potentially impact the lives of three million people.

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