2.0 History

Development of this National Policy for Urban Water Supply and Sanitation follows ten years of intensive legislative work by Government and the progressive development of a wide range of sector and sub‐sector policies. These include water resources, national sanitation, rural water supply and sanitation, water quality and urban development.


In the 1990s, political liberalization and a focus on decentralization, saw important new sector actors emerge, namely community groups, local government and the private sector – including non‐ governmental organizations. New working methods were developed including demand led community based participatory approaches which encouraged communities to take full ownership of schemes and allowed scarce sector resources to be used optimally.


Water supply coverage levels began to increase towards target levels as shown by 10th Plan 2007 data (Table 1) even if sector definitions of “coverage” continued to vary widely. Sanitation received a generally lower priority than water supplies despite its central role in determining public health. Indicative of progress made in service provision since 2001, Child mortality declined from 43 per 1000 live births in 2002 to 14 in 2006 (NDHS).


Coverage Indicator10th Plan Target


10th Plan Achieved

(Basic level)

% population with access to improved drinking water

MDG Target: 73%

% population with access to basic sanitation services

MDG Target = 53%



Table 1: Water Supply and Sanitation Coverage (2007), Source: NPC


Urban populations currently predominate in the terai and valleys of the mid‐hills and are concentrated in 58 municipalities, of which two thirds reside in the 16 largest settlements. Total urban populations grew from 4% of national population in 1971 to 13.9% in 20013[1] and are expected to reach 26.7% by 2021. Urban water demand is increasing rapidly at between 6% and 9% per annum – around three times the national population growth rate – thereby placing a strain on existing urban water supply and sanitation services.

[1] Central Bureau of Statistics, 2003