Multiple Use Water System (MUS), Resilience, Community Forestry

Behind the Lens of Healthy Forests for Healthy People: A Multiple Use Water System in Nepal

By Climatelinks

This blog series features interviews with the winners of the 2020 Climatelinks Photo Contest. This photo, submitted on behalf of iDE Nepal, is available on the Climatelinks Photo Gallery.

Can you tell us the story behind the photo, such as the woman in the photo?

In 2011, iDE developed the Saripakha Multiple Use Water System (MUS), built with support from Montview Church in Denver, Colorado. The community provided all local materials such as gravel and sand and all of the unskilled labor, including digging extensive trenches to safely put pipes underground. iDE designed the MUS, provided monitoring and technical assistance to develop and maintain it, and worked with the community to establish a user group and a source protection plan that maintains the surrounding forest area. As part of a Montview Church group visit to our program in Kaski District in November 2019, we visited the Saripakha MUS and met a farmer from the disadvantaged indigenous Magar ethnic group. She is one of the original MUS users. In a video interview, she describes how the MUS has helped her life. She no longer has to carry water; she has clean drinking water, making her more healthy; and she can grow vegetables to improve her nutrition and earn income.

Video URL

What does this photo mean to you? 

I have been doing photography for iDE in Nepal since 2008. I’ve taken pictures, videos, and interviews with many small farmers in Nepal. They are such good people. They work hard and care about other people, nature, and the environment. They are friendly and warm. The picture captures, for me, the essence of small farmers in Nepal. 

This year’s theme was “Healthy Forests for Healthy People.” Tell us more about how your photo relates to the theme. 

The Saripakha MUS and MUS in general support healthy forests for healthy people through multiple pathways:

  • MUS have tremendous benefits to rural communities including enabling increased income from the sale of high value crops, reduced work load for carrying water, improved health from using clean water, and empowerment of women. This creates strong incentives for communities to maintain the MUS and protect the spring sources, which are generally located in nearby community forests.
  • MUS are managed by user committees elected by the members. These committees create a source protection plan that includes fencing in the area around the MUS source spring and planting new trees around the protected source area.
  • MUS provide economic opportunities in agriculture and other areas, reducing pressure on community forests and other area forests. Poor communities without MUS income opportunities often put increased pressure on their local forests by unsustainably cutting and selling firewood.
  • MUS provide safe drinking water. The MUS design includes water source protection and holding tanks protected from contamination. The provision of safe drinking water eliminates the need to boil drinking water, therefore reducing the use of firewood. 

How does this photo show the climate-related benefits resulting from that work?

 The Saripakha MUS and MUS in general have tremendous benefits related to climate adaptation and mitigation. MUS enable households to better allocate scarce water resources and utilize micro irrigation technologies to conserve precious water resources. They also allow households to shift from relying on risky, rainfed agriculture to more reliable piped irrigation for their income and food production. This opportunity to access more stable, sustainable income reduces stress on local forests to produce income for the poor from unsustainable harvesting during times of climate stress. The photo shows that this Nepali farmer has easy access to a MUS tap stand with sufficient water at her house. She is able to save time because she no longer has to carry water to her home, time she now uses to grow vegetables, which increases her income, food security, and nutrition. In Saripakha, the MUS water has made homestay tourism possible as well.

The Climatelinks community is encouraged to submit new photos to the gallery through this submission form.

Strategic Objective
Economic Growth, Forestry, Food Security and Agriculture, Gender and Social Inclusion, Health, Indigenous, Natural Resource Management, Water and Sanitation, WASH



Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

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