Un Water Conference 2023

Date, Time and Venue: 

23 March 2023, Time: 18:30-19:45 PM New York Time, Inside UN Building, Room C

Partner Organisations

22-24, March 2023, UN Headquarters, New York, USA


Side event on the role of Traditional Knowledge of Water Management and Governance system of Tharu Indigenous People in Nepal


Introduction of Tharu Indigenous Peoples:

The Tharu community has been living in the Terai and inner Terai since ancient times. This community is the second largest Indigenous Peoples in Nepal, comprising 6.75 percent of the total population of Nepal. According to CBS data (2001/2002), 37 percent Tharu live in the Far Western Development Region. They have their own language, religion, culture and attire.They are the main indigenous people in Nepal. To do community work regularly, they have their own organizational systems in which there are mainly three actors: village leadership led by Barghariya, irrigation led by Kulapani Chaudhari and family/household led by Gardhuriya. The Barghariya leads the village and plays a role in judicial development, tradition-related matters and administration. The Kulapani Chaudhari leads irrigation whereas the Gurughariya leads households. 


In addition, the right to make final decisions regarding the households rests with the Gurughariya. But the existing caste discrimination, the exploitative role of political parties, state, authority and low socio-economic profile, the importance of such traditional organization are lessening on the one hand and the   he community has fallen victim to social and economic discrimination on the other. They are also deprived of the opportunity of development and prosperity even within their organizational systems. This deprivation has a negative impact on their traditional knowledge and practices. Issues of discrimination in different sectors, including caste identity, social, economic, educational, employment, ownership, traditional Tharu medical system, still remain unaddressed. Being poor and socially excluded, the Tharus have no access to existing resources and services of the State. They are lagging behind the mainstream of development. Therefore, it is imperative that they are empowered with rights.


Rationale: 

Tharu Indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge and practices on water management systems for agricultural irrigation and drinking water systems in Nepal:

The Tharu are an indigenous group of people in Nepal who have lived in the Terai region of the country for centuries and have developed a deep understanding of their local environment. Tharu indigenous knowledge and practices have played a significant role in the management of water resources for agricultural irrigation and drinking water systems in Nepal, particularly in the Bardiya and Kailali districts.


One of the key ways in which the Tharu have traditionally managed water for agricultural irrigation is through the use of stone spouts and channels. These structures are built to capture and divert water from streams and rivers, allowing it to be used for irrigation purposes. The Tharu have also constructed small dams to store water for use during dry seasons, and have developed traditional crops that are well-adapted to local water availability.


In addition to these practices, the Tharu have a strong tradition of community-based resource management. They often work together to maintain and improve local water resources, including activities such as cleaning and repairing irrigation channels and building new water storage structures.


The Tharu's indigenous knowledge and practices have also played a role in the management of drinking water systems in Nepal. For example, the Tharu have traditionally relied on their deep understanding of the local environment to predict weather patterns and to identify sources of water during times of drought. This has allowed them to ensure that they have a reliable supply of clean drinking water even during dry periods.


Overall, the Tharu's indigenous knowledge and practices have made a significant contribution to the management of water resources for agricultural irrigation and drinking water systems in Nepal, particularly in the Bardiya and Kailali districts. These traditional practices have allowed the Tharu to make the most efficient use of their water resources and to adapt to changing environmental conditions, ensuring that they have a sustainable supply of water for their communities


Note: Asian Indigenous International Network has been granted with the special accreditation for the 2023 UN World Water Conference from UN as well as its side event has been approved to host in the UN building, New York. 


Thank you!