Respect Water Campaign and Why Start With Schools

Garry de la Pomerai

To celebrate World Water Week 20th -24th August …Nepal…

An MOU was signed on 24th August between the “Respect Water Campaign” Team of #kvwrmi and the Kathmandu District EDCU of Nepal MoE. The Nepal Governments ‘Education Development and Coordination Units oversee the 17 Municipalities Education Offices, 680 State Schools, 1400 private schools, and over 45,000 teachers, with 500,000 pupils across the KTM Valley.

The initiative aims to enhance Augmented Modular Education for Peripheral Curricular Subjects of Respect Water and environment, Disaster Risk, Health and Hazard Awareness, Training and teacher / Pupil Support mechanisms, enhancing Community Outreach to meet the hydrological challenges within urbanisation, climate change and our stressed environment.

Why start with schools?

“The sooner that you can generate the young person’s thought processes as to the challenges, the sooner they will develop and assist in the ownership of the solutions, thus providing the much sought after Sustainability and Resilience”.

Within Water Resource Management, if we are to engage in successful policy control and mitigation initiatives, we must win ‘hearts and minds’ by developing ‘Water Literacy’; consequently, we need our half million pupils at school within the Kathmandu Valley to act as our ground troops, penetrating society within their homes and within the workplace through ‘Community Outreach’ initiatives.

We all can agree that it is important we should prepare the pupils to respect and understand water and its role in Health, and that of the Environment, both at school and where they live, and in how they may contribute to a better cleaner, respectful society, whilst they are in education, and for when they leave formal secondary studies to start higher education and their working life in society.

The objective is to meet societal responsibilities through ‘Community Outreach’ and ‘Water Literacy’ development, and simultaneously taking advantage of the captive audience of pupils in schools, by adding DRR modules, providing an additional benefit of raising awareness of correct crisis event responses throughout all communities.

We offer awareness and specific thematic subject modules designed in 40-minute sessions, to fit into your school timetables, as is convenient once per week or per month or as individual school schedule allows. Grades can be grouped, or we can cooperate with and empower external organisations such as Scout / Guides in their mixed-grade sessions.

Government and Formal Education Authorities are under enormous pressure to meet traditional curricula, with expectations increasing each year to reach approved standards and National / International comparative objectives. Subjects such as Environment and Health often have to take a backseat to core subjects. Consequently, informal module provision to fill gaps in preparing students to adapt to, survive within and contribute to society, will be paramount in the minds of parents, and of Principals expected to provide that comprehensive education.

Floods, Water Resource Management, and Why Start with Schools

Significant interest has been generated from visited schools, with help being requested to assist with creating a better understanding of the environment and water resource management and all that contributes to ‘water literacy’. It’s essential that students make the connection to their everyday world, where human activity alters the hydrologic cycle, referred to as ‘HydroSocial Knowledge’.

Similarly, Disaster Risk Reduction subjects are creating significant interest with Principals requesting help and guidance in re-igniting drills and risk awareness and preparedness amongst pupils and staff. Awareness leads to knowledge through participation, making contributions via commitment, creating solutions enabling sustainability and generating a resilient and productive society.


The prospectus includes an interactive approach with various practical option features to ensure ‘inclusivity’ and pupil contributions including experiments, field visit activities, laboratory demonstrations, class activities such as Posters, stories, songs and the creation of games.

In addition, various optional taskings can be generated which will encourage pupils to personally participate, activating accreditation and rewards badges, certificates/ blue stars for individual non-competitive objectives met and for contributory achievements.


All education facilities engage to generate awareness of the plight within the Kathmandu valley of the looming water resource crisis. That pupils are encouraged to be participatory towards a better understanding of the challenges, and components and of the potential solutions, generating an integrated collaborative inclusive approach, benefiting society in creating sustainability and resilience.

Community Empowerment

The long-term Water Resource Management solutions will benefit from enhanced Water Literacy within schools, developing a broader understanding of the dynamics of groundwater systems and their integration and importance within the environment; and how the individual can contribute through ‘Community Outreach’ and ‘Junior Citizen Science’, by introducing and engaging with practical contributions in their communities, thus enhancing water security and long term water resource sustainability.

Floods, Water Resource Management, and Why Start with Schools

Broader Water Resource Management understanding and Compliance

Urban Water resource management requires a holistic approach. No singular component can solve the sustainability of water management for a growing city environment. Most cities are built around rivers that arrive from hundreds of kilometres of watersheds. However, as an unusual example, Kathmandu City is confined within a valley with no natural outside river sources, being totally reliant upon all water that derives from within the limited watershed, which includes ten river sources from the surrounding hills and from aquifer access, plus its seasonal unpredictable monsoon rainfall. To ensure the fast-growing City remains sustainable, robust and with long-term resilient viability, the limited water access needs to be maximized and contribute to numerous components for 21st-century expectations within climate change, embracing the population and desired economic growth.

Within the rural broader Himalayan region, the emerging Challenge is that Ecosystems within Hydrological Units are under an increasingly holistic ‘constellation’ of threats from glaciers to flood plains, through its complex morphology caused by climate change, anthropogenic influences, seismic activity along with the emergence of consequential geomorphological and hydrodynamic evolution.
With the destabilization throughout the physiographic zones adversely affecting the agroecological zones, human sustainability becomes increasingly under threat.

In order to predict, forecast and mitigate against the emerging hazardous changes that often culminate in catastrophic events affecting human resilience, there is a need for a comprehensive assessment of every component of risk, from which can be established prior ‘indicators of change’ and their individual contributory thresholds of increasing risk, which potentially amalgamate to form adverse complex and cascade events.

There can never be a blue-print of solutions, but we can develop a master plan for reviewing risks, initiating indicators and understanding potential scenarios; from which we can individually address the mitigation, preparedness and response options.

Floods, Water Resource Management, and Why Start with Schools

Consequently, amongst many arms of the holistic approach to mitigation of hazards, the embracing of the education sector within all regions, as a long-term community empowerment and outreach solution is a crucial starting point. This does not disregard front-line initiatives but intends to provide a winning of ‘hearts and minds’ by education and community outreach, which in turn will provide the present positive action plans and future policy with sustainable support and compliance from within society.

Starting with Schools

As one of many initiatives within the ‘Respect Water Campaign’, just signed off by the Government, we are slowly building relationships with the schools in order to access this very vital social capacity of the half million junior inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley. Similar programs are to be implanted within future Provincial Master Plans and as a potential model for other Nations.

We first approach schools to prepare a date, for an introductory management meeting with our Nepali team, followed by a one-hour open session for individual Grades, to allow us to interact with pupils stimulating their awareness and interest in the subject of water resource management, health and hazard risks and preparedness, allowing School staff to assess presentation style and the benefits of the program.

We start the sessions with a short introduction to a Disaster Risk Reduction subject as an icebreaker. Our priority in Nepal is demonstrating immediate response to an earthquake, Drop Cover Hold followed by an orderly evacuation. The program’s future DRR Modules will help prepare pupils for all types of hazards and risks, both at school and at home, including Earthquakes, Fire, floods, Personal Health and Security. Making Youth contribute and part of the solution within society as a ‘community outreach’ program.

After these past 7 months designing the pioneering program and demonstrating the need and methodology within 25 schools with 750 Pupils addressed, the recent agreement between the Government and the RWC Team enables us to extend in phases to 1625 schools during this next year, first of a 5yr program and a 10yr cycle, to reach the maximum number of pupils from grades 1 to 10 (~12).

Floods, Water Resource Management, and Why Start with Schools

Capacity build of ‘thematic presenters’ will be developed in phases… initially creating a Respect Water Campaign core “Program Advisory Board”, embracing the multiple Government Education Bodies, UN & Agency Advisories and Education Specialists, from which a ‘Stakeholder Thematic Advisory Group’ of subject Specialists will be established, all of which will ensure relevance, accountability, sustainability and transparency.

The objective is to build a pioneering ‘Water Literacy’ awareness program initially amongst the 500,000 Valley Pupils of 2000 Schools, eventually rolling out nationally, [and maybe beyond] about Water Resource Management and its complex dynamics, and need for a holistic, integrated collaboration amongst stakeholders, empowering the Pupils in generating “Community Outreach” as part of the long term solution and contribution to Nepal’s water resource security and sustainability, and its resilience to climate change and Kathmandu’s relentless urbanization, draining an already diminishing and limited water resource.

Already this approach is being requested to be included within Master Planning for the Provinces, Districts and Municipalities outside of Kathmandu; the first three remote Municipalities already have signed off an MOU and secured funding to begin works immediately. The tide is changing but requires an equally determined bottom-up approach if we are to achieve long-term sustainable solutions to mitigate losses, adapt to, and build resilience to our changing world.

The New approach, on such a scale, is a real First, pitching Nepal onto the World Stage for Water Respect and Resource Management and Hydrological Risk Mitigation!

Author: Water Resource Management Consultant, ‘Respect Water Campaign’ Program Director. Stationed in Kathmandu. Nepal #kvwrmi
email: [email protected]

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