Himalaya & Sun

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                     This is story of every household of Nepal’s Himalayan region when you climb above 3000 m altitude. Most of household including hotels, lodges, restaurant are equipped with solar panel turned into direction of sun. Due to lack of transmission line to transmit hydro power generated electricity, solar power is only viable source of power for people living here. People are cent percent dependent on solar power to charge mobile battery, lighting small portion of house and watching selected television program. Although it is costly and provide minimum amount of power to run daily life still it is boon for them. There is no clue for survey of transmission line and searching alternative power.

                     So solar technology is not only environment friendly but it has been only hope of people to lighten their house. Thus government should be able to provide subsidy and encourage use of solar power. This is not only be Eco-friendly but also save forest from deforestation. If you want to see real life use of solar technology pack your bag and move toward Himalayas.

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Reflecting Back to Mentorship: Six months under Guidance

 

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                                The world is changing relatively faster than expected. The growing market of job is competitive and full of talent, where failing once means losing your job. The professional life is tough already, and its graph is increasing day by day. There are hundreds of professional coming out yearly with honed skills, talents and world life exposure. You cannot be left behind bewildering other progress.

                          Traditionally, the best way to learn was to find better master and be his/her apprentice. The evolving education system changed everything developing systematic progress of student to professional life. That does not mean need of mentorship/apprenticeship is bygone things. Still mentorship is considered best way to sharpening skills before you fail or simply learning by others failure. Your life is too short to fail on every step and learn from failure.

                           I got chance to be part of WWF Nepal The Generation Green Mentorship Program Batch 2 under mentor Anil Chitrakar (Social Entrepreneur). Along with me six others participated on this journey of six months. The main idea was to work one various creative project related to environment conservation, renewable energy use, 3R principle, wildlife conservation, and other several creative solutions. As we came from different background of study, it was hard for us to manage time for meeting and finalize our idea.

                    We were lacking confidence even we had ideas in mind, that’s where mentor guided us. He showed us light beyond tunnel and believed in our ideas. Every idea will work if you have courage to pursue them. These words still echo my ear and motivate me daily. Instead of focusing on single idea we tried cluster of idea as we had limited time of 6 months, so our ending point of idea would be starting point for upcoming groups.

                                 The main objective of our project was to establish a culture with a system of recycling, reusing and reducing of waste (food, plastic, paper, rubber & water). The basic task was to help in the conversion of low – end input waste into high value output. We helped to facilitate and bridge gap between waste utilizing institutions by innovative alternatives to appropriate potential market by designing ergonomically viable products as such:

1. Reusing Rubber Tire by Giving Aesthetic Values for Parks, Schools and Communal area.

                       The tire has been real issue as it cannot be recycled (economically at low scale in country like Nepal) or reduced but can only be re-used. We had re-used tire by integrating them into environment. They were used as flower pots for large plants, swings in garden or home, decoration by giving colors. We identified certain schools formed Eco-Clubs or youth clubs with whom we worked so that the sustainability of the project will not be an issue if local young people will take care of it.

Figure. Tire Gardening at Shree Janajyoti Secondary School, Banepa 

Figure. Tire Gardening and Orientation at Sainik School, Pokhara 

Figure.  Tire Gardening and Orientation at Ratna Rajya School, Kathmandu

2. Advocated use of recycled Plastic Bags into Ropes or Fibers for Agricultural Support:

                        We helped to recycle/reuse plastic bags as rope and it was provided as sample to farmers. This was done through the re-use of plastic bags by making ropes or fibers from them. The ropes can be used for making various green house, support for vegetable growth, building birdcage, temporary shelter and even making fences. The high strength plastic rope and fibers will come in handy for farmers for daily use.

3. Encouraging institutions for Creative use of Paper:

                     Paper is widely used for various purposes like printing records, brochures and leaflets. Reduce use of paper, printing on both sides of paper and promotion of e-communication was encouraged. On joint collaboration with Women’s Dream Multipurpose Ltd we made pencil out of sample old newspaper and encouraged such initiatives from other organizations.

Figure. Training and Sample Old Newspaper Pencil, Kathmandu

 4. Rain Water Harvesting

                         Due to ongoing water crisis and larger number of family residing in small houses, it was very difficult to fulfill the water need in household use. So, being a researcher in watershed management, Mr. Laxman Shrestha had constructed a very simple yet a very effective way to use the rainwater. We conducted interview to share his noble idea for public use.

Figure. Mentees interviewing Mr. Laxman Shrestha about Rain Water Harvesting 

THE LESSONS

                         Indeed six months mentorship has been great journey of my life. We were able to work on ideas generated by us. We could see transformation on ourselves as well as we felt that our activities made some level of contribution and influence on society. We were lucky enough to travel various parts of Nepal. We made lifetime friends and created memory. Plus we learnt about professionalism, discipline, time management and respect of fellow team member.

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Figure. The TEAM (YOUTH FOR CHANGE NEPAL)

                  I would like to provide note of thanks for Mr. Anil Chitrakar (Mentor), Ms. Shikha Gurung (WWF Nepal) and Mr. Dipesh Gurung (ECCA Nepal). It was pleasure to work with you guys: Anisha Adhikari (MBA), Bina Kharel (MBA), Nabina Gurung (Developmental Study), Senha Shakya (Engineer + MBA), Subina Shrestha (Developmental Study) and Sunwi Maskey (Environmental Study). Cheers!!!

Figure. Team Member Briefing About Project Impacts and Progress

Figure. Closing of Program. Team Member with Amrit Gurung 

Media Coverage: We are glad our work was shared on online (Glocal Khabar) and print (MyRepublica) media. Please follow link for more information.

Glocal Khabar: Old Tire Gardening By Youth For Change Nepal 

My Republica:The Generation Green: Teaching youth about nature, conservation and more

A walk to Remember: Journey to Listhikot VDC (Chang Ching Village)

                     Travel is one of best way to learn things and explore beyond comfort zone. The less travelled road, after major Earthquake Nepal 2015, left Araniko Highway connecting Kodari to Kathmandu sees fewer commuters. After postponing my trip to Listhikot VDC for several times due to roadblock, it was finally decided to pack bag and hit the highway. After 5 hours of bus ride from Old bus park of Kathmandu we reached Barabise around 5:30pm in evening. As heavy and daily rainfall had brought several landslides blocking road access to Listhikot. So we decided to pursue journey following day hoping roadblock will be clear next day.

                  Ironically there was heavy downpour last night, which completely ruined our plan to travel by bus. We planned to go via any vehicle to Nayapool and then hitchhike uphill to Chang Ching (a village among several village of Listhikot VDC). It was early morning so there was less chance of getting any vehicle, as vehicle plying had reduced significantly after closure of Lasha border. We asked lift for every passing vehicle finally our luck turned out, we got lift from a truck-carrying quarry for ongoing hydropower project at Chaku. (Middle Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project) After an hour journey we reached at Nayapool at 7:00 am. We passed through Nayapool, a spot for bungee jumping and other various adventurous activities hosted by The Last Resort.

                       The uphill journey through fallen houses, temporary shelter of people and terrible sheds for animal brought chill on us. It felt like no presence of any authority or government in vicinity. The uphill walk made us so exhausted we had to make several stops and we ran out of water, which made journey more arduous. The steep hill, heat of sun and lack of water made walk difficult. After 3 hours of walk we reached first house of uphill village. We asked for water, owner of house very generously provided clean water (filtered water) for drinking. He expressed his grievances after earthquake, the losses and tragedies he had to go through.

                 Personally I found him quite traumatic and his odd behavior expressed those fear and anxiety. He said still he couldn’t sleep inside his house at night so generally he prefers sleeping in open space at smooth surface in uphill area. There have been repeated landslides, fracturing of land mass and majority of water sprouts around village area have been dried up. We could witness his saying when we roamed around village.

                     After few minutes walk from his house we reached our final destination Chang Ching village. The main aim was to inspect community kitchen made in Buddhist Gumba for approval of budget from government as fellow traveller was appointed as Civil Engineer in charge for re construction and rehabilitation in Listhi VDC. The journey provided very insightful things, difficulties at grass root level and presence of resentment about state. It came to light people are affected more as there is no income as Lasha border is closed as working as seller or vendor and purchasing daily goods for livelihood. Now they do not have proper shelter to live in, jobs to work and are purchasing Indian goods at higher rate.

                   This journey made me realized ground reality of many Nepalese life from ground zero up.

Solar Training and Capacity Building : Power to the People

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                                    March 29, 2016 Before dawn of warm and fuzzy morning I woke with sharp shrill of mobile alarm at 5:00 am. As it was planned to meet at 5:45 am at Old Bus Park to move into another adventurous travel on off load leading to Dhunkharka, Kavre. The bus ride from Old bus park took us to Panauti via Bhaktapur, Sangha, Banepa. The real journey began from here accompanied by Mr. Subash Lamichane and Mr. Kancha Tamang. The 14km dusty, bumpy, narrow and scary road begun from Panauti steadily uphill climb in bus cramped with people, animals (chickens), kids crying, people yelling at each other. It was perfect like Hindi film melodrama at bus. Irony was that we were not able to get any seat through out two hours ride. Even within bus we had to wear mask and continuous shake up really made me tired. But internal motivation to go there and help people to sort things out, teach them, connect them to more reliable energy was continuously pushing me up.

                                        After travel of 2 hours we reached Dhunkharka. The bus stop was on top of hill to reach to our destination we had to go downhill and again uphill. The slow down hill walk began interacting with each other knowing about peculiar things about location. It was good to be back on hills among tress, clam and serene country side where nothing bothers you except cool breeze, birds chirp and perennial flow of river. I encountered various rural technology like water mill, hydraulic ramjet pump, fodder cutting machine, solar system. The very delicious meal was waiting for us, prepared from organic vegetables, grains crushed from water mills, cooked in improved cooking stove, rice grown in nearby fields. This was perfect amalgamation of technology with rural livelihood.

                       The training sessions began at 11:00 am. The 22 owners of solar system were present in upper floor of cowshed. It was great to see energy and enthusiasm in people. The training started with introduction of speakers and participants. The training was planned for 2 hours and following topics were discussed:

  • The initial session explained about what is renewable energy, Solar as renewable energy.

  • Participants were introduced about solar system and its components like Panel, Battery, Charge Controller and Load.

  • Installation do how and safety handling was demonstrated with system present on the location.

  • Various Procedure for Repair and Maintenance were provided.

  • Specific care handling, minor damage and quick repair locally was provided about battery, charge controller and loads.

  • Final solar power use calculation was done and how much load people can use with technology given to them was shown.

Training Outcomes

                          The people have been following malpractice about solar system handling. The solar panel were hung as photo frame in walls, no safety precaution were taken, people were brining in & out panels in rains, their perception was heat generated more power than light. About training accomplishment participants got chance to learn about each components of solar system. They are now able to assemble and dis-assemble the system on their own. The standard parameters like facing panels on south direction, keeping panels at 30/45 degrees, keeping battery far from heat source, use of loads according to power generation, sustainability of battery system, various light symbols and their meanings present on charge controller, minor repairs was provided. Overall looking after longevity of solar system with efficient use was provided.

                  After completion of training we visited two hydraulic pump operation at Chanaute and Ladkhu. We learned about bio-char preparation, its use.

                           The return was one of the most memorable journey of my life. The last seat of bus squeezed between a women with child and old grand pa. The lady by side was vomiting throughout journey while grand pa was drunk, mumbling and fumbling with words and directions. The smell from both side was killing me, as I sat contemplating about life. I endured situation, just invigorated into circumstance.

                                              This was one of my life awakening journey. What surprised me was humbleness and subtlety of people. Obviously they are cutoff from mainstream media attention still they are happy to be living there. There are numerous challenges but somehow they have managed to be living well. I hope to see better road access, sustainable clean energy supply, educational facilities, better health facilities and access to ICT be within their reach. The natural serenity shall not be disturbed, only right technology along with nature can develop Dhunkharkha.

Hydro Power in Nepal

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              ‘Hydro’ or water power refers to the energy of the movement of water being converted into electricity. The general process is power generation by use of water. Hydroelectricity is one of the most mature forms of renewable energy, providing 19% of the world’s electricity consumption from both large and small power plants. The most common type of hydropower uses dam or reservoir for water holding still there are run-off type of project too. Hydro electric power is based on the principle of using falling water to spin a shaft connected to an electric generator. The greater the fall of water, the more power it has to spin. The greater the quantity of water, the greater the number and size of the shafts that may spun and the greater the electricity output. The amount of power produced depends upon following factors:

  1. The Flow [quantity of water passing]

  2. The Head available [Vertical distance of water can be made fall]

Advantages of Hydropower

  1. Non- polluting, clean and environment friendly

  2. A renewable source of energy

  3. Cost of generation, operation and maintenance is lower than the other sources of energy

  4. Ability to start and stop quickly and immediate load acceptance/rejection makes it suitable to meet peak demand and for enhancing system reliability and stability

  5. Long operating life

  6. Cost of generation is free from inflationary effects after the initial installation

  7. Storage based hydro schemes provide benefits of flood control, irrigation, drinking water supply, navigation, recreation, tourism and aquaculture, and

  8. Opening of avenues for development of remote and backward areas

Hydro Power in Nepal

          Hydropower so far has been only source of power generation of our country. The growing need of power is increasing day by day while power generation is lagging far behind than demand margin. Nepal is blessed with immense potentialities of hydropower generation. Our country ranks second in water resources after Brazil and posses large potentialities for hydropower generation. Nepal is gifted with economically exploitable hydro-power potential to the level of 42000 MW of installed capacity out of total hydro potential of 83000 MW. Nepal’s immense hydropower potential needs to exploit in broadening the market that is developing in the domestic and regional areas.

         Despite the immense hydropower potential in Nepal, only 40 % of its population have access to electricity including 33 % from NEA grid and 7 % from other alternative source of energy( NPC 10th Plan).

Reasons For Development of Hydro Power in Nepal

Minimal contribution to global warming: Hydropower generation does not generate significant quantities of CO2. Some CO2 is generated during construction, but this is minor and comparable to what would be required to construct any power generation facility.

Clean:Hydropower generation does not generate air or water pollution, although there is a potential  for water quality impacts in and downstream of larger reservoirs.

Security:Hydropower development requires large capital outlays. But, once built, they are not dependent on imported fuels and the security issues associated with being a landlocked country.

Stability: Cost of development, construction and operation can be well documented and predicted. Once built, the fuel is free and power generation costs are not subject to fluctuations in fuel or transportation costs. Many hydro projects I am working on are over 50 years old, and several are over 100 years old. Under the right conditions, hydropower facilities can run at low operational costs for 50 years or more providing low-cost, clean electric power.

Technological transfer and self-sufficiency: Within Nepal there is growing institutional knowledge and capacity regarding this sector. Enough projects have proceeded in Nepal to enable Nepalese nationals to complete much of the engineering, environmental and social work elements and analysis. In addition, there is now a large cadre of Nepalese construction workers who have worked with international construction companies and have had critical safety and technical training. As a result, Nepal has a trained work-force ready to work on large construction projects.

Power exports:Nepal has the opportunity to export power, thereby contributing to balance of trade   and providing needed revenues for the general economic and social progress.

Potential: Nepal has vast hydropower generation potential that has only lightly been tapped. 

Poverty alleviation:Hydropower development, in association with linked development projects, can contribute to poverty alleviation and improved living conditions and health for communities in the project area as well as nationwide.

Yarcha Gumba : A conflict within itself

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     Yarcha Gumba

                        Yarcha Gumba which is half insect and half plant found on meadows above 3500m is a rare medicinal herb that grows in Nepal. The collection of herb was legalized in 2058 B.S (2001 A.D) Generally season for collection of herbs begin around may after melting of snow which usually last for two months.

Use

     Believe to be Chinese ancestor medicine discovered around 15th century. Similar to discovery of coffee, once eaten by goat and getting stimulated, yak grazed on meadows got stronger and people came to know about existence of herbs.

Collection

  • Located on ‘Patan or Lak'(local language for hills and meadows)
  • Locally called Kira, Jeevan buti, Cheyou
  • Found on high altitude, tough job to extract with high vision power to detect
  • Uncertain trail and lack of proper path
  • No time to set up camp as collection starts from early morning to late morning
  • Uncertain weather like snowfall, landslide, heavy downpour
  • Risk of damages on herbs as it leads to significant decrement on price
Collection of Yarcha at Lek

   Collection of Yarcha at Lek

Collector

  • Every employee and student around region join the expedition
  • Different age group people children, adult, old folks
  • Many small, medium and large business man along with middle man come for buying and transporting herbs
  • Not only collector, businessman but entertainer, facilitator, small shop install, portable shop operate with full swing

Adversity during collection

            Risk                                                                           Crime

  • Lek (Altitude Sickness)                               – Attacks Among Self
  • Coldness                                                           – Loots
  • Falling off from cliff                                      – Cartel
  • Avalanche                                                         – Misuse
  • Landslides

Market : Main market is China

Social Issues

  • Sustainability : The collection is random and mis-managed so in long-term more exploitation will lead to extinction of herb.
  • Solid waste Management: The collectors used fast food for daily food and throw plastic bags around meadows. The human waste and temporary living can cause significant accumulation of solid waste in region.
  • Leaving Cultivation : People have given up their traditional cultivation and entirely relying on herb collection for income generation. Dependency of people on collection has increased while it is bringing end to traditional locally available jobs.
  • Maintenance of Life cycle of herbs: There is no any proper records or survey regarding status and conservation of herbs. How can we protect it from over encroachment by people and how its life cycle be promoted.

Positive Impacts

  • Employment: Collection, transportation and selling has been seasonal jobs for local people during seasons but they are giving up their jobs and entirely relying on collection for whole year budget management.
  • Increase in Life Standard: The cash flow has significantly improved living standard of people but raised alarm about sustainability of life. There is major challenge life is only better till there is herb in meadows.
  • Development of Local Area: Obviously local area has been developed. Better access to road, health, education e.t.c can be seen.

Negative Impacts

  • Self Grading: There is no proper regulatory body for grading of herbs. Self grading is helping middle man so local people are not actually not getting pay how much they actually have to get.
  • Collectors not actual receiver of benefits: The local people get significantly less money than other businessman involve in this sectors.
  • Environmental impacts no study: There is no proper environmental survey regarding growth ,impact, availability and life cycle of herbs.
  • No Accountability: There is no documentation regarding collection, distribution and use of herbs.

Suggestions:

  • Shifting Collection: The areas should be separated every year so we can give chance to grow herbs in particular areas. This will help to preserve environmental aspects that herbs play for ecological diversity.
  • Artificial Culture: Conducting scientific research so we can artificially culture herbs for commercial use.
  • Confirmation of Use: Use of yarcha gumba is still vague so proper study should be done so we can take it as commercial herbs.
  • Limitation of collection: We should restrict and make possibility of only collection on limited amount.

    Image source : HimaliSanchar