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Intra-annual variability in standards of water and sanitation in Upper Humla, Nepal: an investigation into the causes, importance and impact

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posted on 04.11.2014, 16:11 by Nicola Greene
This study investigates the impact of seasonality on standards of water and sanitation in the mountainous district of Humla, Nepal. The research considers impact on two levels: community level access and service delivery. First of all, it examines annual variation in village level access to water and sanitation. Secondly, it looks at the wider picture of service delivery and considers how seasonal variations present opportunities and challenges for improvement in standards for water and sanitation. Three case studies from Humla are presented which illustrate village level access to water and sanitation over a calendar year. These case studies summarise the content of 45 semi-structured interviews, 9 focus group discussions and 9 months of observational work in the district. Variations in weather, village population, infrastructure functionality, and environmental conditions are found to influence the experienced levels of access to water and sanitation at any given time. The impact of seasonality on service delivery was investigated via 39 key informant interviews. Both climatic (e.g. weather) and non-climatic (e.g. budget timings) sources of seasonality are found to impact programme implementation. The mismatch of local seasonal calendars and those imposed by central hubs is found to cause particular difficultly in effective delivery of water and sanitation services. The findings of this research have theoretical, methodological and practical implications. Theoretically, it is suggested that a mountain community s level of access to water and sanitation varies considerably over the course of a calendar year to the point where it needs to be considered if on the ground standards are to be improved. Methodological guidance is provided detailing means of investigating seasonality and its impact on standards of water and sanitation in other scenarios. Practical suggestions focus on incorporating seasonality into assessments of access to water and sanitation and programme delivery in mountain communities.


School of Civil and Building Engineering



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Nicola Greene

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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