One Water Source, Many Uses

“We had given up on this stretch of land. It lay there dry and bare. But now, as you can see, it is green and fertile. The new irrigation project has made all the difference. This year I planted and sold a lot of potatoes here. Our entire neighborhood has transformed because of the new water project.”

Dukmaya Tamang, Simle, Jaleswori


Generally, we run two types of water projects – drinking water and irrigation – that are separate from each other. In 2018, after learning about a new technology, we tried combining both projects into one.

We are constantly reevaluating and adapting our methodology to be the most effective we can be. We do this in part by learning from the best practices of other organizations. We visited a Multiple Use of Water (MUS) project site run by International Development Enterprise (IDE) Nepal in late 2017, which a friend of ours suggested could be a suitable technology for our projects. This visit taught us that one water project or source could easily serve multiple purposes through small modifications and minimal extra cost. We then modified what was going to be a typical irrigation project in Simle village into a locally appropriate and feasible MUS model. We finished this project in mid-2018 and are glad to hear of the success stories from the village.

Left: Our typical drinking water system. Right: Typical Irrigation Project

Dukmaya Tamang’s home is one of the 27 houses that benefitted from the new MUS project in Simle. Since the project, people are now using water in three different ways. First, it is diverted into crop fields through hand-dug canals. Second, it is used as drinking water for families via taps built next to their homes. And finally, the excess water from the household taps is being used to maintain plastic ponds near the house that irrigate kitchen gardens.

On the left: Dukmaya shows us her plastic pond. Right: Dukmaya selling potatoes to her neighbor

Dukmaya’s backyard used to remain fallow for most of the year since there was not enough water to grow anything outside of the rainy season. After building a plastic pond and a tap next to her home, she has maintained an excellent kitchen garden where she now grows a variety of vegetables for her family’s consumption. She recently expanded her kitchen garden to grow more potatoes. Due to the availability of water and the techniques our agriculture technicians taught her, she was able to grow enough potatoes to feed her family and also earn extra income.

Kumari Tamang stands in front of the newly-built tap that is just next to her house.

Since this project was originally requested by the community for irrigation, all 27 households are now using the water to irrigate their crop fields. Twelve of the 27 households are also using the project for drinking water, while 15 households are using plastic ponds to collect water for their kitchen gardens. Dukmaya’s neighbor Kumari Tamang (in photo above) is using the water in all three ways. For the 12 households, this project has helped with their acute drinking water shortage.

Structure of the MUS scheme

Local community members contributed to this project by donating their labor voluntarily. They dug the pipelines, crushed stones to make gravel, and held multiple meetings to manage the construction work. Now they have formed a water user committee, and collect a monthly savings fee of NPRs 20. They also assigned a caretaker who maintains various parts of the system. The community holds regular meetings every three months to collect the savings as well as resolve various issues facing the water system. Every household gives the system caretaker a fixed amount of produce as compensation annually.

Our Agriculture Technician Thamsari Rai teaching farmers how to use a plastic pond.

With the availability of water throughout the year, many Simle residents have now begun commercial vegetable farming. As part of our agriculture program, we also helped form a farmer’s group in Simle in 2017. Members have been reporting increased income since installing the MUS system.

Lak Kumar Rai shows us his potato plants that he started growing after the guarantee of irrigation.
Another farmer Bal Kumar Rai with his huge cabbage farm – possible only after the availability of water for his kitchen garden.
Chhatra Kumar Tamang with his plastic pond.

Since this was a new technology, we have encountered a few challenges. We can only build it where there is a large enough water source that can sustain both household water consumption and farming. While the plastic ponds are not very large, they could still pose a threat to small children who could accidentally fall in. In some instances, community members also reported mosquito breeding during the hot summer season. We now insist that each household with a plastic pond build a solid fence around it to protect kids. To prevent mosquito breeding, we have suggested that people keep the water moving and churning in their plastic ponds.

 

Due to the many benefits that communities receive from MUS, we have now expanded this model to our newer water projects. Currently, we are running two more MUS projects that will be finished in June of 2019. We have slightly modified the design to adjust for local needs, but the basic principle remains the same.

Community members digging pipeline for a new irrigation project in Bung. This will also be a MUS system, where houses with a drinking water shortage and willingness to have a plastic pond will get both of them in addition to irrigating their crop field.

We thank IDE Nepal for hosting our visit as well as our friend Michael Cook for connecting us with IDE Nepal.

To stay updated on this program and other similar work in Nepal, follow our Facebook and Instagram pages. If you’d like to support these important programs in addition to our other work in Nepal, please consider a donation today.

The Long Road

 

Tilicho Lake (4900m) in Manang, Nepal. Autumn in Nepal is spectacular – the perfect time to begin our new projects!

After months of rain, the monsoon has finally yielded to beautiful fall weather in Nepal, and we are ready to start another busy year of construction. Over the past year, we have made significant progress on our community recovery plan by helping our local partner communities recover and rebuild after the disastrous earthquakes of 2015.

Binda Rai from Sishu School in Maheswori is happy to study in a new school.

Since last fall, we have finished rebuilding 8 schools damaged by the earthquakes using Light Gauge Steel (LGS) and Mild Steel (MS) Truss technologies – both earthquake-resistant structures.

The 8 schools rebuilt in 2016/17 on

More than 500 students from these 8 schools recently moved into 40 bright and spacious new earthquake safe-classrooms afters spending the last two years attending school in temporary classrooms made of bamboo and roofing tin.

In the video below, you can hear from parents, teachers, and students who talk about how these new schools have helped them recover from the devastation of the earthquakes.

Following the earthquakes, our school construction work increased by double since most of the schools in the region were destroyed or deemed unsafe to use. Although community members were excited to have their children study in safe schools again, they also expressed sadness over how many trees had to be cut down to build the new schools. After listening to the communities’ concerns, together we decided to plant three trees for every one we cut down for timber. Students, teachers, and other community members are proud of this initiative and many people participate when we plant the trees.

In addition to the schools we rebuilt, we also completed 1 irrigation project that benefits 60 households, and 6 drinking water projects that now provide 127 families with access to safe drinking water within ten minutes of their homes.

We used to have acute water shortages here. It was so difficult to get water for the household. We had to go to a stream which was on a steep slope. In monsoon, it was very slippery, full of leeches and the water was also dirty. Now, after this project, it has been so much easier. Especially for me, in my old age, this tap next to my house has been a blessing.

83 year old Rinji Sherpa from Beuma shared her thoughts with us after we completed the drinking project in her community.

Rinji Sherpa in Beuma is very happy to have this tap stand near her home.

 

Similar to previous years, community members voluntarily contributed a significant amount of labor and materials to these projects. Communities in our project area contributed a total of 14,793 days of labor in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. When valued at local rates, this is equivalent to $110,401.57 USD! This represents 23% of our total project budget for the whole year, making our community partners dZi’s largest single donor group.

Community members volunteering for the construction of the Janakalyan Primary School.

We are currently preparing the final paperwork for our upcoming projects. We just finished our annual audit and are making Public Audit Banner for all our construction projects. In 2017/18, we will finish rebuilding 10 schools; construct 3 drinking water systems and 1 irrigation project; launch our smokeless cook stove campaign by helping 1,100 families build Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) in their homes; and add 720 new farmers to our ongoing agriculture program. We just finished celebrating the big festivals of Dashain, and Tihar- the festival of lights. We are so excited to kick off our construction season in the best of spirits.

If you would like to support our work in Nepal, specifically if you want to help us rebuild a school, there’s a matching grant opportunity provided by our friends from Mexicali Blues to raise money for Janajagriti School reconstruction. For every dollar that you donate, Mexicali Blues will be matching you dollar for dollar making your support go twice as far. Visit http://dzi.org/mexicali/ in our website.

Keep up with our journey through our Facebook and Instagram updates!

 

 

New Partnership in Jaleswori.

“I am now a moon behind the hills and I have lived a full life. But for my grandchildren and the village children, life has just begun. They will be here for a long time and they need a school. Therefore, I very happily am donating my land to this school”

-Aasmaya Rai, Jaleswori-3

Aasmaya Rai, from the settlement of Diblibaya in the village of Jaleswori, donated a prime piece of land to the Janakalyan Primary School earlier this year. This fertile land was part of her “jiuni”- a tradition in Nepal where elderly people keep some land that functions as a retirement fund or nest egg.

The original Janakalyan Primary School was badly damaged in the earthquakes of April, 2015. The damage was so extensive that the land the school was on was deemed unsafe for building due to giant fissures and risk of landslides. The community needed to relocate the entire school, and Aasmaya rose to the occasion.

The local government pressured the community to merge this small school with the local high school – over an hour’s walk away. The community worried about the young children (most of whom are under the age of ten) being forced to walk such a long distance each day. Aasmaya’s land was in the perfect location, and with her help, Aasmaya and others in the village convinced the local government to keep it in the community.

The community members then constructed a temporary structure out of bamboo on the land to keep classes running.

Students of Janakalyan studying in the temporary structure made out of bamboo.

In August of 2016, we started a trial partnership in the community of Jaleswori as part of our deep development plan through a series of low cost starter projects. There are 11 different settlements like Diblibaya in Jaleswori and each settlement chose their own priority projects which was fully implemented by local community groups called “Community Development Groups (CDG). The people from Diblibaya chose to expand the playground for the school as part of their starter project. All the households of this ward donated five days of free labor for this project – totaling 184 days of volunteer labor. Our support totaled approximately $580, while the local contribution was valued at $1,125!!

A community member carrying stones for the school playground expansion.
A community member works on a stone wall to expand the school playground.

 

All of the projects across the entire village were very successful and showed similar levels of local initiative. All in all, the community members from these 11 settlements contributed 1239 days (equivalent to USD 7802) of voluntary labor to the various starter projects compared to the USD 5670 we had supported again making it true for here that the biggest single donor group of dZi is the community themselves.  In December of this past year, we formally partnered with Jaleswori – committing to work together on a wide range of community projects for the next eight to ten years.

Our first step when we partner with a new community is to draft a ‘community contract’ where both dZi and community members spell out our needs and expectations over the long term.

Community Meeting in Jaleswori where we entered into a mutual “community contract.”

One of the most important understandings in this community contract was that “the demand and need of the most disadvantaged community will be addressed with the highest priority” and “the projects that yield benefit to community will be given priority over projects that give personal benefit.”

In this spirit, the entire village decided that the rebuilding of the Janakalyan Primary School – on Aasmaya’s donated land – was the very  highest priority. In late spring, we broke ground on the new earthquake-safe school.

The school building is all set to be completed within the middle of August. The local contribution and community participation in this project has been as overwhelming as the starter projects. Despite the project’s late start, it has taken the community only six months to finish all the work.Alongside the school buildings, we are also constructing a small drinking water system within the school area and a toilet. This will prevent the children from straying too far in search of water and will maintain the hygiene of the school environment and the students.

 

Structure for the water storage tank and toilet.

The classrooms were almost finished when we took this photo in July last week.

It has been an inspiring journey for us since we first stepped into Jaleswori. Thank you to people like Aasmaya who have shown us that local communities are the true heroes of community development. We look forward to many more years of such an inspiring and fruitful partnership with Jaleswori. Meanwhile, stay tuned to our social media pages to follow the progress of the Janakalyan School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Earthquake Reconstruction Update – April 2017

It has been almost two years since the devastating earthquakes of 2015 hit Nepal, destroying 500,000 homes and taking nearly 9,000 lives. Like nearly everyone in Nepal we at dZi, along with our local partner communities in the remote mountain districts of Khotang and Solukhumbu,  are still putting the pieces back together.

Our earthquake recovery plan focuses upon reconstructing local schools that were damaged by the earthquakes and providing income generation opportunities for families that have lost their homes. We set an ambitious goal of ensuring that all children in our partner communities are studying in safe classrooms. This meant rebuilding 28 schools in total (reduced from our initial goal of 31, due to the limited presence of other donors and subsequent assessments of all schools during our feasibility study).

In 2016 we finished rebuilding 9 schools, and our goal for 2017 is to complete another 8 using new Light Gauge Steel technology. We are well on our way and for some, like Shishu High School in Maheswori, the community started rebuilding early and has already completed half of the new classrooms.

Shishu High School, Maheswori

In the photo below a local community member transports Light Gauge Steel (LGS) trusses to the construction site of Sidda Kanya Lower Secondary School in Rakha.

Between January and March 2017, community members like him from across our partner communities have transported thousands of these LGS pieces from the nearest roads to the school sites. Transportation by foot takes half a day for the schools situated closest to the end of the dirt roads, and for others it can take up to a day and a half.

The LGS trusses being transported by tractors on the new dusty roads of Khotang. These pieces are for the Himalayan Primary School in Sungdel.

LGS is a new technology in Nepal although it is popular in many other countries for its lightness, ease of assembly, and earthquake safety. Another advantage of this technology is that the whole structure is portable – we can shift it easily from one place to another when required. This is especially important for schools in the hills and mountains where the ground might give out or where landslides or floods might endanger the schools and students.

We plan to finish the majority of construction before the monsoon rains begin in Nepal. The biggest challenge so far has been the transportation of the LGS trusses to the school sites. At this point though, all of the parts have either reached the construction sites or are en route, and the trusses for the last LGS school will be transported within the next week. Check out the video below to see how rebar required for our school construction is transported on foot by community members.

 

Community members have also been busy collecting local materials like gravel and stone for the schools, while mules are currently transporting the remaining construction materials such as plywood, glass wool, cement, and sand. People in these communities are working rapidly to complete the schools as soon as possible. We are concerned about the upcoming local elections, which are scheduled to be held on May 14. If the elections take place as planned, they may disrupt or slow down our construction activities.

Construction site of Himalayan Primary School in Sotang
Mules transporting external materials like cement and sand
Local community members carrying stones to the construction site of Basuki School in Gudel

Our technicians Raj Kumar, Chhatra and Subindra are working around the clock to train and oversee local masons in using this new technology. There have been several times when we had to redo a section, but overall this technology has been really well-received by the communities and readily adopted. In the following photos, our technician Subindra guides and teaches the construction crew how to assemble the LGS frames.

LGS fitting in Siddakanya School

After the completion of all 8 schools, we will have built more than 40 classrooms that will allow around 500 students who are currently studying in vulnerable or temporary learning centers to move into new, bright earthquake safe classrooms.

Students and teachers in front of the Temporary Learning Center in Panchakanya School, Susla. We are rebuilding this school now.
A student of Panchakanya School stands in front of her damaged school room. This is one of the 8 schools that we are rebuilding currently.

Livelihoods Support

We also provided direct support to 419 families that lost everything during the earthquake. Instead of providing direct handouts, we wanted to give the family members an opportunity to recover on their own terms and to have a sustainable means of support. We extended three types of support to these households: free agricultural materials and trainings; free seeds and training for market vegetable crops; and focused training and seedlings for high-value cash crops including cardamon, ginger, turmeric and hot peppers. 

 A local farmer with a batch of cardamon seedlings

Tarasur Rai lost his home during the earthquake and was left with little option to feed his family and rebuild his home. Already he has earned about $200 in new income from selling ginger. He has also begun to experiment with potato farming this year and has become successful in harvesting a lot of potatoes. He hopes to earn more than $400 from the potatoes this year alone. Pictured is Tarasur in his attic where he has stored all the potatoes and we can also see the massive crack that was formed in his house by the quake.

 

Punarsingh Rai lives alone, having lost his wife and family. Inspired by our support and with technical help from our staff, he has already started earning income from many of his farm products. He made around $100 from bitter gourd sales alone. Here in the photo, he poses with his pile of turmeric that he recently harvested. We supported him with turmeric seed as part of the earthquake package. He will earn about $100 from the turmeric this year.

 

While these numbers are only in the hundreds of dollars, this is a massive amount in the current context of Nepal, and a good start in terms of financial and personal empowerment!

Follow us in our social media networks, facebook, instagram and twitter to stay updated.

 

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Water Means the World to Nepal’s Remote Communities.

Nepal has some of the most plentiful water resources on the planet, with the watersheds flowing south from the massive Himalayan chain supporting far over a billion people. Ironically, many settlements on Nepal’s remote hillsides suffer greatly for lack of clean drinking water sources. As Nepal’s population has grown, people have migrated and settled in more remote and dryer locations.

 

Villages in mountainous side of Nepal are often perched high above in ridges

The lack of a clean water source can have a profound impact upon the health and prosperity of a community. Hours are spent daily by women and children fetching water, basic hygiene practices such as hand washing laundry becomes difficult or impossible, and drinking from stagnant or dirty water sources greatly increases incidence of water-borne diseases.

For these reasons, we frequently receive requests from our community partners to construct gravity-fed water systems that bring clean water downhill from clean spring sources – sometimes many miles away. The engineering for these projects is simple in theory, but can be quite complex in practice. dZi provide technical engineering and financial support, while community members contribute large amounts of local labor for the construction and long-term maintenance of the projects.

Over the past year, we completed four new drinking water systems that have brought clean water to over 100 households, and over 500 people, for the first time. This current year, we have six more projects in the pipeline, with construction set to begin as soon as the monsoon rains end.

When we found 15 years old Nahemiya Rai from Fataksi village washing vegetables at a brand new water tap, we asked her if the water project had helped her in any way. This Grade 9 student told us that her life has been much easier after the drinking water system was completed in her village. Last year, before the system was installed, she had to spend hours each day fetching water from a distant spring. Livestock, birds, and other animals also drank water from the same open source. She was repulsed by how dirty the water was – but her family had no other choice.

Nahemiya Rai washing vegetables in one of the new taps built in her village.

Nahemiya recalls how her 3 year old baby sister had fallen ill with diarrhea. She was also often late for school after fetching water for the family in the mornings. Just getting to school for Nahemiya involved walking for ninety minutes each way, and she would often stop on the way to wash her hands and face because there wasn’t enough water at home. Washing her clothes – including her school uniforms – was also almost impossible.  “Now everything has changed, I can go to school on time, I can clean and wash myself whenever I like. And I can devote so much more time to my studies” she says.

Nahemiya and her family using the local tap in a number of ways.

We also met up with Rupdhani Rai — Nahemiya’s 87 year-old neighbor. She was busy cleaning her young grandson at the tap.  Rupdhani says that before this drinking water project, people in her village had to wake up very early in the morning to go fetch water from a spring which took at least a half hour to reach. If she arrived too late in the morning, after everyone else had already lined up, she would return home empty handed or, worse yet, be forced to fill her containers with silty and filthy water at the bottom of the puddle.  But now, with the new water project, things have changed for the better. Rupdhani says that in her old age, she has been able to use as much water as she wants along with her grandchildren. The new tap has empowered her, in her golden years, to provide for herself and her grandchildren — to stay clean without having to worry about making it to the water source early enough every morning.

Rupdhani with her grandson

 

The story repeats in the villages of  Hurlam and Thulu where we also completed projects last year. When we were visiting Hurlam to monitor the progress on the new water system, we met Mani Tamang on the banks of the Rog River – almost an hour’s walk away from her village. She was carrying a backpack in which she had brought some midday snacks and some dirty clothes – as finishing her washing took so long, that she needed to bring along her own food.

Mani Tamang with her backpack of food and dirty clothes

Mani then would make her way back to her home in Hurlam, a rigorous one hour uphill climb for her.

Before the water project, Mani had to make the rigorous one-hour climb up and down this steep trail just to fetch water.

Now Mani no longer has to go through this ordeal as a tap stand has been constructed right alongside her home.

Dhanmaya Tamang, a resident of Thulu, some 2 hours walk away from Hurlam also shared her thoughts on the new water system in her village. Although the water source in Thulu was only a twenty minute walk away from the village, it was extremely filthy and Dhanmaya often found dead bugs and animals in the water source.  Again, lacking any other options, the community was forced to use this obviously unsanitary water source.  It was bad enough that when guests from other villages came to visit, they would refrain from eating and drinking the local water for fear of getting sick themselves. Now, Dhanmaya has clean and healthy water piped from a protected spring at her doorstep.

To ensure that the water remains this way, Dhanmaya  and her community have formed a user group and each household pays a small amount monthly into a maintenance fund. They also get together to periodically clean the cement tanks and to maintain the system. With help from dZi, the community has also registered the water source and water system with the local Government – thus making the system part of the local infrastructure, and eligible for Government funds to maintain and repair. All dZi projects follow this model for sustainability.

Dhanamaya Tamang from Thulu fills her water vessel from the new tap.

 

An earlier photo from Thulu where 12 year old Radhika Tamang showed us where she fills her household water, along with close up of the source she showed us.
10 year old Manika Tamang from Thulu washes her school uniform in the new tap.
Mani and her neighbor crushing stones to make gravel required for the water tanks. This was part of their voluntary labor contribution for the project.
We make sure to involve the community in each process of the project. Here, our local NGO partner member is explaining budget details through a public audit banner in Hurlam.

We hope you’ve appreciated the stories of how something as simple as water can make such a tremendous difference in people’s lives. To learn even more about our drinking water projects, please also read our webstory “Bringing Home the Mountain Water” about the Nimchola Drinking Water Project that we constructed in 2013.

If you would like to support drinking water projects, or any of the other myriad ways in which we help Nepal’s most remote communities achieve a lasting change –  please visit www.dZi.org/donate

 

 

 

 

Rebuilding Schools

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Schools across Nepal were dangerous, even before the earthquake that struck nearly one year ago. Had the quake not come on a Saturday afternoon – the only day when school is not in session – tens, if not hundreds of thousands of students would have likely lost their lives. The photo above shows the cracked walls of the Janahit Primary School in the village of Rakha, and was taken before the earthquake. The building is now just a pile of rubble.

We were planning to reconstruct this school building this year anyways, and shudder to think of what would have happened had children been in the building when the ground started shaking.

In our very focused working area of 7 communities, the Earthquake damaged a total of 36 schools. This represents only a fraction of the devastation all across the middle-hills of Nepal. Besides schools, personal homes, drinking water, rural trails and other vital infrastructure have been severely damaged.

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Chandra School in Sungdel which is standing but is far too risky to use anymore.

Our Earthquake reconstruction drive includes rebuilding the Janahit school, and 30 others in remote communities of Khotang and Solukhumbu districts. This will take us 3 years to complete. This year, we have broken ground on 9 schools already.

Immediately after the earthquake, we mobilized our resources to support continuation of classes in by constructing 40 Temporary Learning Centers, using roofing tin that can be recycled in the final school construction. As the rainy season was just around the corner, building TLCs  enabled us to provide immediate shelter and continued education for over 2,000 students. It is quite impossible in the Nepali hills to start any solid construction work during the monsoon which is one of the reasons our work for building permanent school buildings did not start immediately after the quake.

 

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Students inside a Temporary Learning Center (TLC) in Solukhumbu

Meanwhile, we worked on several earthquake safe school building designs to improve upon our existing model. Our technician Raj Kumar Rai, with consultation from various quarters, finalized three different school designs. Then, we faced an even more daunting task – getting approval from the Nepal Government.

After the quake, the Nepal Government was overwhelmed with reconstruction work, and unfortunately mired down in political conflicts. After four months of diligent work, we finally received approval for our proven reinforced stone masonry designs and we immediately started working overtime to get all nine schools built before the monsoon rains arrive.

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Rajkumar and Chokpa pose with the Government’s approval letter. Finally!

Besides the bureaucracy, Nepal’s almost half a year long political instability together with the “unofficial blockade” in the Indo-Nepal border made it almost impossible for any real construction work to begin anywhere in Nepal due to acute fuel and material shortages.

As the blockade has now been lifted, and we have the green signal from Government to go ahead, we have now started reconstruction in earnest. Work has started in all the 9 schools. Collection of local materials – wood, stone, aggregates have almost completed for all the school. Below short video shows community members donating their labor to collect stones for Hunga Lower Secondary School in Gudel.

A video posted by dZi Foundation (@dzifoundation) on

We have already finished all site preparation and the foundations for all 9 schools are dug. We are optimistic that we will have them all completed by the end of June.

Community members working in school reconstruction in various schools

Our technicians, social mobilizer, and partner NGOs are working round the clock mobilize the community and to check progress on the schools. Our technicians are specially alert to monitor  every aspect of the construction process and to uphold our strict quality standards – thus ensuring that the schools will be safe during the next quake.

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Top: Rajkumar gives orientation to the community about earthquake safe school building. Bottom: Chhatra, another of our technician, checks accuracy of ground excavation work.

As a first and necessary step, our technicians trained community members and local dZi staff about the basics of earthquake safe technology. We focused specially on local masons and all dZi staff have now been taught to read basic engineering drawings, and to assist the local masons in interpreting the design documents.

We are working day and night to finish these 9 schools so that we can start working on the next phase of reconstructing 11 schools in July. We have to thank all our generous friends and donors from around the world who has made it possible for us to respond to the need of the community so swiftly. Stay tuned for more updates about our school reconstruction work.

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Girls in Gudel inspect their school building being constructed with much curiosity.

 

छेस्कामको शान

“किसानको शान इकोसान, इकोसान भिलेज छेस्कामको पहिचान”

 

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 रमणिय गाउँ छेस्कामको एक झलक

कर्णाली क्षेत्र जत्तिकै विकट सोलुखुम्बु जिल्लाको चाम्लाङ हिमाल र मेरापिक हिमालको फेदीमा अवस्थित गा.वि.स. हो छेस्काम जुन सोलु सदरमुकाम सल्लेरीबाट १८ कोष टाढा छ । प्राकृतिक सुन्दरताले भरीपुर्ण भएपनि सरकारी कार्यक्रम तथा विकासबाट दुरदराज रहनु छेस्कामको तितो यथार्थ हो । राम्रो स्वास्थ्य उपचार पाउनलाई तीन चार दिनको पैदल यात्रा गए मात्र सम्भावना रहेको र यातायातको पहुँच नपुगेको ठाँउ हो । यस गा.वि.स.मा २०५६ साल तिर झाडापखाला, हैजाले धेरै मान्छेको मृत्यु समेत भएको दर्दनाक इतिहास छँदैछ । बच्चा जन्माउन समस्या भएर उपचारमा लैजादा बाटैमा उपचार नपाएर मृत्यु भएको कैयन उदाहरण घर घरको थियो । विगत २ बर्ष अगाडीसम्म सरसफाईको क्षेत्रमा समेत त्यति प्रगति भएको थिएन । विगतका समयमा यहाँका समुदायहरु चर्पीको विकल्पमा सुँगुरको खोरमा तथा खुला ठाँउमा दिसा पिसाव गरिरहेको अवस्था थियो । वातावरण प्रदुषण भएर आउ, हैजा, झाडापखाला जस्ता रोगका कारण बालबालिकाहरु बिरामी हुनु सामान्य झैं थियो । परम्परागत कृषि प्राणाली अपनाएर समुदायहरु जिविको पार्जन गरिरहेको भेटिन्थ्यो तर आज छेस्कामले मुहार फेरेको छ । मेरो गाउँ छेस्काम जो सोलुखुम्बु कै विकट भनेर भनिन्थ्यो तर मिती २०७२ मंसिर २९ मा यो जिल्ला कै १३ औ खुला दिसा मुक्त क्षेत्र तथा नेपालकै पहिलो इकोसान भिलेज घोषणा भएको छ । हामी सबै छेस्कामवासीहरुको लागि यो दिन गर्व र खुशीको विषय हो ।

ODF
बिद्यालयको अगुवाइमा खुल्ला दिशामुक्त क्षेत्र र सरसफाइ अभियान सुरु गर्दै

 

तर यो दिनै यसै आएको भने हैन । वास्तवमै समुदायको विकास र परिवर्तन हु्न चेतना स्तरमा विकास हुन आवश्यक छ । चेतनाको विकास भए पश्चात समुदाय आफु र आफैबाट परिवर्तन गर्न सक्छन् भन्ने मैले यो दुई वर्षमा सिकें । सन् २०११ देखि छेस्काम गा.वि.स.मा जि फाउन्डेशन स्थानिय संस्था नव युग एकता विकाससंग साझेदारी  गरी कार्य क्षेत्र बनाई भित्रियो । “दिगो विकास हाम्रो प्रयास” भन्ने मुल नाराको साथमा स्वास्थ्य, शिक्षा, कृषि, आयआर्जनको क्षेत्रमा कार्यक्रम सञ्चालन गर्ने क्रममा स्थानियको माग र नवयुग एकता विकास समितिको प्रस्तावना अनुसार सन् २०१४ मा इकोसान शौचालय निर्माण परियोजनालाई प्राथमिकतामा राखि सोही अनुसार शौचालय कार्यक्रम छेस्काममा शुरु भएको थियो । इकोसान चर्पी भनेको पिसाब लाई बेग्लै  सन्कलन गरी पिसाब मलको रुपमा प्रयोग गर्न मिल्ने चर्पी हो ।

Khagendra kulung chheskam 3 final for description for social media
खगेन्द्र कुलुङको फुलैफुलले सजिएको चर्पी । अब छेस्कामको प्रत्येक घरमा यस्तै पिसाबको पुनर्प्रयोग गर्न मिल्ने इको सान चर्पी छ ।

सन् २०१४ मा छेस्काम १, २ र ६ वडामा ४०० वटा र सन् २०१५ मा ३७६ वटा गरी जम्मा ७७६ वटा इकोसान चर्पी निर्माण परियोजना सञ्चालन भयो । जसमध्ये जि फाउन्डेशनले नवयुग एकता विकास समितिमार्फत बाह्य सामाग्रीका लागि एउटा चर्पी वरावर रु १६,५२५।–सहयोग गरेको छ भने स्थानियले एउटा चर्पी बरावर रु ५७,३००।– बरावरको आफ्नो श्रमदान गरेका छन् । चर्पी निर्माण फाईदा, वालीमा पिसाव प्रयोग, बिद्यालयको अगुवाईमा पुर्ण सरसफाई अभिमुखिकरण कार्यक्रम सञ्चालन गरी समुदायको चेतना अभिबृद्धि गराईएको थियो । इकोसान भिलेजको लागि गा.वि.स.मा रहेका वाटरशिल चर्पी हुनेहरुलाई पिसावको महत्व, फाईदा र प्रयोग गर्ने बिधि वारे अभिमुखिकरण गरी पिसाव संकलन ड्रम, टिटि वल, सोली समेत वितरण गरिएको थियो । २०१५ मा सोलुखुम्बु जिल्लालाई नै खुला दिसा मुक्त क्षेत्र घोषणा गर्ने लक्ष्यलाई सार्थकता तुल्याउन स्थानिय सरोकारवालासंग समन्वयन गरी कार्यक्रम लागु गरिएको थियो ।
हाल सबै घरले चर्पी निर्माण सम्पन्न गरीे प्रयोग गरीरहेको अवस्था छ । शौचालयबाट निस्केको पिसाब ड्रमबाट संकलन गरी बालीमा पिसाव प्रयोग गरिरहेको अवस्था छ भने जि फाउन्डेशनको सहयोगमा सञ्चालित कृषि कार्यक्रम अन्तरगत एक घर एक करेसावारीमा पिसावको प्रयोगले अत्यन्तै राम्रो तरकारी उत्पादन भईरहेको छ । सरसफाई प्रर्बद्धन भएको अवस्था देखिन थालेका छन् । पर्यावरणिय तथा वातावरण सरसफाईमा चर्पी निर्माण पश्चात सकरात्मक परिवर्तन भएको छ । परिवर्तन आफैबाट शुरुवात गर्नु पर्छ भन्ने भनाईलाई सार्थकता तुल्याउदै विद्यालय सेवा क्षेत्रमा वाल ल्कवको अगुवाईमा सरसफाईमा प्रर्बद्धन तथा चर्पी निर्माण गराई पुर्ण रुपमा बिद्यालय सेवा क्षेत्रलाई खुला दिसामुक्त तथा इकोसान भिलेज घोषणा गरिएको छ ।

sarala kulung
 सरला कुलुङ र उन्को श्रीमान करेशाबारीमा पिसाब मलको प्रयोग गर्दै ।

गाँउ, टोल र समुदायमा परिवर्तन आएकोले वातावरण सफा अनि सुन्दर देखिन थालेको छ । घर घरमा इकोसान चर्पीले छुट्टै पहिचान ल्याएको छ । कृषि, स्वास्थ्य, सरसफाई, पोषण, वातावरणमा सकारात्मक परिवर्तन गरी पर्यटक प्रर्बद्धनमा समेत टेवा पुग्ने बिश्वास बढेको छ ।। छेस्काम स्वास्थ्य चौकीका अ.हे.व. नरेन्द्र कठायतकोअ नुसार चर्पी निर्माण र प्रयोग पश्चात स्वास्थ्य चौकीमा बिरामीहरु पनि कमी भएको छ । समुदायमा सुङुरको खोर र खुला ठाँउमा दिसा पिसाव गर्नु हुदैन, चर्पीको प्रयाोग गर्नु पर्छ भन्ने चेतना अभिबृद्धि भएकोछ । वातावरण सरसफाईको क्षेत्रमा जस्तै बाटोघाटो, खोल्सा खोल्सी, घर वरपर, व्यक्तिगत , घरायसी र वातावरणीय सरसफाईको क्षेत्रमा समेत समुदाय लागिपरेको देखिन्छन् । जसले गर्दा पर्यावरणिय तथा वातावरणिय सरसफाईमा सकारात्मक प्रभाव देखिन थालेको छ । फोहोर व्यवस्थापन चक्रलाई अपनाउन थालेको अवस्था छ ।

Toilet
छेस्कामको मामेर्कुका स्थानिय आफ्नो चर्पी अगाडि । पोहोर नै इको टोल र खुल्ला दिशा मुक्त भैसकेको मामेर्कुमा यहाँहरुलाई स्वागत छ ।

अहिले भन्दा सजिलो भएपनि समुदायलाई परिवर्तन गर्न र कार्यक्रम कार्यान्वयन गर्न कम चुनौति पुर्ण थिएन । विभिन्न चरणमा समुदायको चेतना अभिबृद्धि हुने खालका अभिमुखिकरण कार्यक्रम सञ्चालन गरिएको थियो । अनुगमन, मुल्याङ्कन र समुदाय परिचालनमा अत्यन्तै महत्वपुर्ण भुमिका निर्वाह गरिएको थियो । समुदायको सामाजिक परिचालक भएका नाताले र शौचालय निर्माण संगसंगै अन्य परियोजना पनि लागु भइरहेकोले आफ्नो धेरै भन्दा धेरै समय वार्ड वार्ड डुल्ने काम भएको थियो । कहिलेकाँही आफ्नो दौडधुप सम्झिदा थकान महशुस हुन्छ तर आज आफ्नो गाउँ नेपालकै नमुना भइरहेको सम्झिदा भने दौडधुपको मिठो फल पाएको झैं लाग्छ ।

bina toilet
बिना कुलुङ आफ्नो चर्पी निर्वानाधिन अवस्थामा र सम्पन्न भैसके पछी ।

खुला दिसामुक्त तथा इकोसान भिलेज भएपछि गाउँको विकासमा छुट्टैे आयाम थपिने स्थानिय सबैको विश्वास छ । हाल यहाँको समुदायमा चेतना, एकता र विकास प्रतिको मोह उच्च भएको पाएको छु र यसै प्रेरणाले छेस्काम आगामी दिनमा समुदाय विकासमा झन् लम्किने छ भन्नेमा मलाई पुर्ण विश्वास छ ।

Prashant Biswokarma

लेखक
प्रशान्त विश्वकर्मा
जि फाउन्डेशन सामाजिक परिचालक र छेस्काम बासिन्दा

 

A small measure goes a long way!

shivatar DW
Girls do their Saturday washing in the public tap in Sotang (photo taken before the earthquake).

Sotang is the chief trade and commercial hub for the areas where we work in the northeastern valleys of Solukhumbu district. The weekly Friday market alone draws over 5,000 people from the neighboring villages including from Gudel, Chheskam and Bung. The market itself is held in the main center of Sotang called Shivatar (Fustel in the original Nachhiring Rai languague).


In 2013, our local NGO partner in Sotang realized that there was a dire need to build a public toilet and drinking water system in the market area if they were to maintain their Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. They sent us a proposal, and we supported the construction of a 4-room public toilet and a public tap stand adjacent to the Friday market spot.

During the weekend, the toilet is primarily used by market goers. On other days, the local school makes use of it. The school and the market management committee jointly clean and maintains the toilet now.

public toilet in sotang
The Public Toilet just after the construction was finished in December 2013.

The public tap stand has been providing free and clean drinking water to the market goers and community members. Local residents close to the market center use it for drinking, cleaning and washing.

Sotang was heavily affected by the recent earthquake, and one of the most impacted communities in the entire district. There were dry landslides in many places of Sotang during the second quake on May 12, which were followed by many landslides once the monsoon rains saturated the already-weakened soils. Many houses were destroyed, and the public tap stand in the Shivatar market also fell victim to this.

shivatar WSP damaged (2)
The public tap stand was almost swept away by landslide triggered by continuous rainfall.

The landslide exposed all the buried pipelines and also fractured the land where the main reserve tank was situated. The water supply and the toilet are fed by the same source located a few meters above the tapstand, and immediate repair was imperative. Otherwise both the toilets and taps would have been destroyed.

The local community was prompt to respond, and quickly raised 20,000 rupees ($200 USD) to repair the pipes and divert the landslide. This cost  was kept low because many community members pitched in and worked despite the heavy rains.

repairing1
The repair work shown by arrows. The reserve tank is located at the top- now surrounded by protective fences.

 

Sibatar WSP repaired
Recent picture of the tap and the reserve tank after the repairing was complete.

“Not only did we repair the damage, we also cleaned the whole market area that day”, says Prithvi Bahadur Thapa the chair of the Market Management Committee.

Handing over projects and ensuring local buy-in is the most difficult aspect of our work. We are proud that the community in Sotang identified and solved this problem on their own, despite all of the other challenges caused by the earthquake. This demonstrates that they truly own and value the project and while the overall budget for this initiative was small – what it represents is invaluable.

Bringing home the mountain water

“Old as I am, I am still so active and agile, because I drink water directly from the mountains. Our new drinking water tap has its source right beneath mountains, so I thank dZi so much for making it possible for me to have clean fresh water right in my home.”

old-lady

Nimchola is a small Sherpa village in Gudel VDC of Solukhumbu with just 24 households. It is one of the most remote settlements in the entire district – at least two, if not three, long days of walking from the nearest road. Nimchola is tucked onto a steep slope and surrounded by dense forests that run all the way up to the Makalu Barun National Park.

dZi helped our local NGO partner in Gudel construct over 800 toilets in the entire village of Gudel – including Nimchola. This allowed Gudel to become the first ‘open defecation free’ community in the entire district – a tremendous accomplishment for an area recognized as being one of the most remote and under developed.

After the Toilet Project, the community of Nimchola requested a drinking water scheme as they had dire need of drinking water. Local residents had been forced to walk for up to an hour and a half to gather water from often-dirty sources. One of the local residents related to us that “his daughters wept as they were sent to fetch water because it was so far, and their bodies would ache while carrying heavy loads of water.” In Nimchola, like many small villages in Nepal, the men primarily migrate away in search of temporary work. Here, most of the men work as porters and guides on treks in the Everest region. Accordingly, it was the women, children and young girls who were burdened with difficult household chores including fetching water.

The village of Nimchola
The village of Nimchola

Also, many households living in downstream were forced to consume polluted water as the people upstream would wash clothes, utensils and until sometimes ago defecate in the water source. This problem of water pollution led to many conflicts, and created schisms within the community. During dry months when the streams dried up, people had to depend upon water from stagnant wells (kuwa) which are dirty, and full of germs.

Because water was so scarce, people hardly used the water for any other purpose besides cooking and drinking. Bathing, use in toilets, or in vegetables was unthinkable. Without proper access to water – toilets are nearly impossible to maintain and keep clean.

Communities as small as Nimchola are nearly always overlooked by Government or NGO sources on account of their remoteness and small size. But this is exactly why their request for drinking water appealed to us at dZi. Our unique approach to development where we devise projects by collaborating with the community to match their needs has made seemingly unfeasible projects like this possible throughout our years of working in Nepal.

The Village of Nimchola is right beneath the Himalayan Range
The Village of Nimchola is right beneath the Himalayan Range

When dZi approved of this project in 2013, the community was more than willing to share their part of labor contribution. Of the total project cost, the community contributed 33% with their labor which is worth  approximately  $8,700. This ended up being a total of 1725 days of labor contributed by the community – most of which involved the hard labor of transporting supplies and burying drinking water pipe – a tremendous feat for a community of only 24 houses.

Given that the community members of such villages are typically very busy with farm and household work from dusk till dawn, this contribution shows the immense willingness of people to make the project a success. As the chairperson of the construction committee Sange Sherpa shared, “Because dZi provided supplies and hardware that we could not afford, our people are only too happy to contribute labor.”

Each house contributed about 70 days of labor
Each house contributed about 70 days of labor

Our high engineering standards required that the water pipeline be buried deep in the ground to avoid damage by livestock or landslides. This required an amazing amount of work, which the community expressed time and time again that they were happy to give. Communities like Nimchola may be cash-poor, but they have ample motivation, resilience and strength.

Now every house has a tap with water that flows 24/7
Now every house has a tap with water that flows 24/7

In our project impact evaluation, 70% of the community members reported a dramatic increase in their daily water usage after this project. Specifically, women reported that water accessibility has been very beneficial to schoolchildren who can now bathe regularly and wash their clothes – whereas earlier they were forced to attend school in dirty attire.

 

Now that the water is available regularly at each household, people have started to raise cattle near their homes, grow vegetables in kitchen gardens and to use it in their toilets. Mothers reported that their kids who earlier spent all their time fetching water now has time to study in the free time.

girl

To ensure the long-term sustainability of the project, everyone in Nimchola has contributed to a trust fund where each household donates Rs. 500 per month for maintenance and repair. They are also in the process of registering the water source with the Government thus ensuring full water rights, and access to Government funds to maintain the system well into the future.

—————————————

Update as of July 2015

The water user’s group here have successfully registered themselves with the Government of Nepal. This will mean that if any large damage occurs to the project, they will be eligible to get repair and reconstruction funds from the Government directly.

This is how things start!

What can you do for only $500? The community group in our new partner community of Maheswori built a new health post building with a $500 grant from the dZi Foundation. The community contributed the equivalent of over $1,000 in local labor and materials!

Posted on Sept 20, 2013

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Posted on February 16, 2014

The community of Cheskam built this trail seen in the next photo. People from ward no. 2 of Cheskam chose to improve their walking trails which makes a tremendous difference in their daily life.

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When we first work in a community, we cap our grants at $500 (USD), which the community matches and invests in any public project that they see fit.

IRIN’s Kyle Knight writes about our working approach, and also mentions this particular local volunteer approach that we have been employing. Follow the link for his article in the IRIN website. http://goo.gl/lkszO6