Binisera Lamichhane Mangar cradles her 2-year-old granddaughter and, with her free hand, turns on a gleaming faucet as the entire village of Gadhi looks on. The pipe gurgles as the crowd hold their breath. Clear, cool water bubbles out, and everyone rejoices.
At the age of 72, Binisera, one of the oldest residents, has just made village history, by turning on the faucet to the first piped water system in Gadhi, a cluster of 200 households that perches high up on top of a 2,500-metre high mountain in the Surkhet District of midwestern Nepal.
Gadhi is undergoing a cultural revival, returning to life after a 35-year water crisis. Hills once dry, are now blanketed in fields of emerald green. Today the village is the largest exporter of dairy products in the district.
At the heart of this transformation are the women of Gadhi.
“Almost every household now has at least one or two buffaloes, and it’s a good source of income,” says Man Kumari Rosa as she prepares fodder for her own buffalo behind her house. She says she earns 200 rupees (US$2) a day from selling buffalo milk.