Stakeholders Come Together to Clean up the Begnas Lake
Posted on: 9/4/2015
By: Lakpa Sherpa and Indra Prasad Paudel, LI-BIRD
The campaign began from Mandare Park, Begnas Lake on 11 July 2015. At eight in the morning with the sun rays caressing the lake surface, 150 volunteers from 12 local organizations had gathered with interest and enthusiasm. Mr. Dinanath Dhakal, president of Rupa and Begnas Paryatan Prabardan Sanstha provided orientation to the volunteers on safety.
Looking hopeful, “If this works, it will be a joint effort to remove water hyacinth from Begnas Tal” remarked Mr. Rammani Adhikari, Legal Officer at Lekhnath Municipality.
After two hours of manually removing water hyacinth the Rupa and Begnas Paryatan Paribartan Sanstha thanked everyone. The volunteers agreed to meeting again on the following Saturday and dispersed. The journey to remove water hyacinth had begun in earnest with the slogan,”Ban Jangal, Nadi, Tal; Hamra Sampada Swacha Safa Rakhu Nagar; Sabhya Banau Sada Sarbada.”
Proliferation of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) in the Begnas lake has made fishing and boating difficult. This invasive weed has reduced the visual appeal of the lake and is affecting the economic and tourism opportunities of fishers and boaters. Left unchecked, water hyacinth can out compete native plants and reduce oxygen content in the water affecting fish and planktons. The same species plagues the iconic Fewa lake of Pokhara.
Little research has been done on the ecological impact of water hyacinth in the Begnas lake. There is a paucity of documented records on how and when water hyacinth was introduced in the lake. However, locals recall that the invasion started around two decades ago. The species have heavily blanketed the lake in the northwest closer to the Syankhudi river delta. More recently the invasion has increased in different corners of the lake spreading around with the direction of the wind.
Every year, the Lekhnath Municipality allocates budget to remove water hyacinth and to conserve lake. The municipality allocated the budget to the Boaters Association and the Fisheries Association for this work in the past.
However, the lack of coordination between the beneficiaries of lake has limited the impact of this perennial activity. For the fiscal year 2070/71 (July 2014 to July 15), a budget of NPR 150,000 was allocated for water hyacinth removal by the municipality with the Lekhnath Hotel and Restaurant Association taking the responsibility. Transfer of responsibility to a new association set the seed of conflict and the lack of coordination between stakeholders meant that this activity could not take of.
When taxpayers’ money did not do the job, the municipality decided to appeal to the volunteer spirit of the locals united by the desire to restore the aesthetic beauty of their Begnas lake. LI-BIRD has been continuously supporting and participating in this campaign to consolidate local initiatives to control this weed. Along with the Lekthnath Municipality and LI-BIRD, Tol bikash (development) committees, women’s groups and farmers’ group, the Lekhnath Chamber of Commerce Industries (LCCI), the Boaters Association, Fisheries Association, local media, www.cityof7lakes.com.np, political parties, Lions Clubs and others have been active participants.
On 25 July, LI-BIRD in coordination with Sundaridanda Tol Bikash Sanstha remove the water hyacinth from Majhikuna side of Begnas Lake in presence of 70 locals of Sundaridanda. Similarly, on 7 August LI-BIRD gathered 30 people from Chanaute Kalimati Group and Paurakhe Womens’ Group to remove this weed from Maladi side of the lake. Further on 8 August a total of 41 people from LI-BIRD and its partner, Bioversity International (Nepal office) and 65 local people from the Sundaridanda Tol Bikash Sanstha gathered to remove water hyacinth.
The campaign is successfully running in its tenth week. As many as 1411 people representing 39 different local stakeholders from the watershed area have volunteered. The economic value of this contribution is approximately NPR 176,375. The Begnas Boaters’ Association have provided around 100 boats throughout the campaign to help with the campaign, adding to another NPR 80,000 worth of service.
The Begnas and Rupa Watershed Area based project titled “Mobilizing Local Institutions For Sustainable Management Of Watershed Services In Nepal” is the winner of the Swiss Re Foundation’s 2014 International Resource Award for Sustainable Watershed Management.