Its the dry season in Nepal. Or rather the very dry season. The vast majority of rain falls in the monsoon period between June and early September. This heavy rainfall recharges the water tables that everybody relies on to supply water until the following year. Some light rain falls in January and February, but in comparison to the monsoon, this is not much to speak of. By April and May the water table is dropping and streams high above the valley floor are drying up. People then have to go hunting for water, or do without.
Recently I travelled to Kaskikot, a small village on a panoramic ridge close to Pokhara. They have a huge issue with water supply. To cut a long story short, rainfall is decreasing and temperatures increase, both attributed to climate change. This means that people have access to water for as little as one hour per day, and roughly speaking, the per capita allocation of water is around 10 litres per day. That’s one traditional toilet flush to give it some perspective. So that has to function for drinking, cooking, washing and toilet usage. Its a very tough situation.
The story is not uncommon in Nepal. A popular perception held by outsiders is that Nepal is a land of snowy mountains and raging rivers, and that that somehow implies that water is in abundance. The former is true, the latter is far from the case.
Every week news reports cite another village as being in desperate shortage of water. In Kathmandu it is no different. Many houses, those that can afford it that is, are resorting to having water delivered by tanker.
The climate is undeniably changing and the debate on whether industrialisation and consumerism are responsible is all but closed.
Imagine the irony then of seeing bottles of Perrier and San Pellegrino mineral water for sale in a nearby supermarket in Kathmandu. Yes it is patronised mainly by tourists, but still, if there was ever a symbol of the profligacy of modern (western) society, it is shipping bottled drinking water long distances.