Gravity Goods Ropeway (GGR) is one of the flagship technologies of the Practical Action Nepal office. It fits well to the rugged topography and agrarian economy of Nepal. It taps on the undulation of ground to over the inaccessibility posed by it. It helps farmers to get their products to market in less time, cost and drudgery. It was introduced in Nepal in 2000 for the first time. Now, the technology is heading towards achieving the impact at scale. Following the Access for Opportunities project, 2007 to 2012, which installed 15 GGRs in 4 districts of Nepal, Practical Action is making concerted effort for the wider replication of the technology by influencing and capacity building of other organizations.
Department of Local Infrastructure Development and Agriculture Road (DoLIDAR), the technical department of Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Government of Nepal, which oversees all the infrastructure development works at the local level, has started to replicate the technology in Nepal. Last year, it carried out feasibility study of GGR on 21 sites in 9 districts. Practical Action provided technical training to its engineers, consultants and verified the feasibility reports. It has also started installation of GGR at 2 sites. The department has expressed its commitment to include the GGR in its regular programs. Practical Action and the department have agreed to work together to explore the leverage fund for the replication of the technology in Nepal.
Likewise, Practical Action has started to replicate the technology outside Nepal through Practical Action Consulting. They have been providing technical assistance to Tarayana Foundation Bhutan to install a GGR in Bhutan. The Agriculture Machinery Centre (AMC) Bhutan is also interested to uptake the technology.
To support and sustain the wider replication of the technology, human resource development is really important. Realizing the fact, Practical Action has been closely working with Pulchowk Engineering Campus, the largest and most reputed Engineering College in Nepal. The college have included the GGR technology in their curriculum and started to run elective class on it for its Bachelor of Civil Engineering final year students. Practical Action supported the college to develop curriculum and has been providing resource person to facilitate the class. A MOU has been signed between Practical Action and Pulchowk Campus for the collaboration. Under the MOU Practical Action will support Pulchowk to run the elective class until 2016. Afterward, Pulchowk Campus will run the class on its own. This year, Pulchowk Campus is producing 30 Civil Engineers well conversant in GGR.
There are early indications that the GGR is well on the way to achieve impact at scale. However, there is still a long way to go. There is also risk of losing the momentum if we fail to continue proactive efforts from our side.No Comments » | Add your comment
On a recent trip to Nepal I was introduced to Practical Action’s work on flood preparedness and in particular the development of Early Warning Systems to provide poor communities with advance warning of devastating floods. Poor people living in the Terai plains in Nepal are all too familiar with the danger posed by flash floods, which according to UNDP have on average killed 178 people, affected a further 114,000 and caused over US$ 34.5 million worth of damage each year since 1980.
Recognising this threat, Practical Action started in 2002 by engaging vulnerable local communities in flood prevention planning and it was quickly realised that the major problem was a lack of prior warning. Hence regardless of when the flood struck the losses were considerable, particularly for the poor and marginalised families that lived in the most vulnerable locations. Therefore Practical Action and the community constructed the first watch tower in Bhandara village, Chitwan district in 2002 and provided a basic siren that they could use to provide advance warning. The benefits this system provided were immediately realised as only a few moments’ advance warning enabled families to move to higher ground, protect their most vulnerable assets and importantly collect their official papers, documents that were critical to access relief services and to return to their farms once the floods had abated.
However, the limitations of the system were quickly realised. It only provided advance warning of a few minutes governed by how far the observer could see and the system was dependent on the observers remaining vigilant and was only effective during the monsoon when flash floods were most likely. Another limitation was the noise generated during a downpour when rain drops hitting a corrugated roof quickly overwhelmed the ability of the siren to be heard, so Practical Action subsequently modified the system with higher powered and linked sirens so that they could be heard by more people simultaneously.
Based on the lessons learned and the feedback from the local community it was realised that this technology was effective and could easily be taken to new areas. So Practical Action approached the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology of the Government of Nepal, with a proposal to link their river monitoring stations using mobile communications to communities downstream to extend advance warning from a few minutes to at least a couple of hours. Following the agreement of the department, Practical Action worked with local communications specialists Real Time Solutions Pvt. Ltd to link this information to SMS services and also connecting the data to the internet, allowing real time flood warning information to be disseminated to many different users. This system is now operational in 5 river systems in Nepal, the West Rapti, Narayani, East Rapti, Babai and Karnali Rivers, providing between 1.5 to 5 hours advance warning depending on the river system. This has reduced the flood vulnerability of poor communities living along these rivers and has enabled local authorities to deliver more responsive flood relief.
The system I viewed in the Karnali River basin has water levels displayed in real time at the district police station with a warning alarm linked to moderate, high and dangerous levels. The district police station in the administration centre was chosen as this is one of the few local offices that is manned 24 hours each day, and the police have good communications to the necessary agencies should a devastating flood strike, thus shortening the time needed for mobilisation and avoiding the need for the plea for help to come from the affected communities. One community member I met, mentioned that previously his family had spent two days living on their roof before an army helicopter was spotted heralding the arrival of assistance to their community.
Practical Action plans to roll out the system to other locations and is advocating for the system to be adopted nationwide. A first step was the demonstration of how effective and practical this technology can be to the United Nation’s hosted Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium a key platform driving Disaster Risk Reduction in the country. We are also exploring with key stakeholders how our developing expertise can be applied across borders to reach larger populations and to tackle more problematic early warning challenges such as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods and Landslides, so watch this space!No Comments » | Add your comment
PRISM (Poverty Reduction of Informal Workers in Solid Waste Management) project organised a Behaviour Change Campaign (BCC) on 25th March 2013 with an objective of gathering respect and recognising Waste Worker’s Contribution in the Solid Waste Management Sector in Nepal. It was the first of its kind BCC campaign targeting waste workers in Nepal and was a grand success as roughly 450 people participated.
The event was able to meet the objective by grabbing the attention of a huge number of people and media personnel. The programme was fully supported by the Government of Nepal, the Delegation of European Union to Nepal, Solid Waste Management and Technical Support Centre (SWMTSC), Municipalities of Kathmandu Valley, distinguished guests from different sectors, non-state actors involved in Solid Waste Management and hundreds of informal waste workers.
The informal waste workers participating in the event were excited, enthusiastic and expressed that they were happy to be part of such a programme for the first time in their lives. PRISM project has identified more than five thousand Informal waste workers in the Kathmandu valley and about 46 informal self-help groups. The BCC campaign included a Walkathon, Signature campaign and consultative workshop to respect and recognise informal waste workers in Solid Waste Management.
Follow the link for more information on the PRISM project.No Comments » | Add your comment
The recent (2011) census in Nepal revealed that 82.78% of people have access to improved drinking water supply. The figure is satisfying as it indicates crossing the MDG target and approaching the national target of universal coverage. However, there is a big question mark in the quality aspects. Water is a good solvent; it’s often called a universal solvent as many substances are easily dissolved in. Therefore, there is always risk of water contamination. It’s thought that most people are not aware about impurities in water and just judge water with their senses like sight or smell.
A survey conducted by Practical Action in six urban poor communities of mid-western Nepal (Bardiya) in 2009 showed that drinking water is contaminated chemically (ammonia, phosphate, iron and arsenic) and biologically (presence of e-coli). Nevertheless, 89% of respondents in the survey were happy with the quality of drinking water. It was also found that 98% of people didn’t practice any water purifying methods before consumption.
Many people in the developing world – 35% of people in Nepal (census 2011) – rely on tube wells or hand pumps for drinking water. Mostly tube wells extract water from the first aquifer or ground water up to 20 feet. It’s seen that ground water sources in such cases are easily contaminated because of the lack of appropriate management. In many cases in Bardiya, a small pond of stagnant water forms near tube wells. In such cases how can quality water be expected? Further, it is found that water handling and storage is also an issue.
No doubt, water is life, but we need to consider both quantity and quality. Some simple steps like education on water quality, low cost household water treatment options, platform improvement for tube wells, grey water management and proper water handling can make a big difference in water quality that ultimately leads to a healthier life.No Comments » | Add your comment
But what I really meant was unassuming, simple yet effective.
In Gularia, Nepal we’ve been working with the community to transform all of their homes together into a healthy village – clean water, toilets, decent cooking facilities, promoting hand washing and good hygiene etc.
One innovation, which I’ve seen many times before, is the use of a concrete slab with a small raised wall to protect a water point from contamination. It works, its effective and therefore we’ve done it time and time again. In this case the protection was yet more vital as nearly all of the houses had a small cow shed attached and protecting drinking water from contamination by cow dung is vital.
The silly but great – so simple but I haven’t seen it used in this way before – was a wooden drying rack for pots, utensils, etc. placed immediately next to the water point. It meant that when women washed cooking utensils there instead of putting them on the potentially contaminated floor they stacked them on the clean rack. And so kept everyone safer.
Women talked about how learning about simple ‘kitchen management’ was part of making a healthy home. Not silly but true.
Small effective solutions that together are life changing.
I bet some of you reading this would have thought ‘silly’ too but then thought ‘silly but strangely wow – simple but effective’No Comments » | Add your comment
On November 22, 2012 Practical Action Consulting (PAC) Asia embarked on a three day field trip to Chitwan and Nawalparasi Districts. The objective of the field trip was to learn first-hand experiences about some of the projects undertaken by Practical Action and to see which lessons could be used in other projects in the Asian region, mainly India and Bhutan.
In three days and covering hundreds of kilometers, we were able to stuff in as many project sites as possible, learning and understanding Practical Action’s work along the way. We managed to visit the Gravity Goods Ropeway at Fisling, Climate Change Adaptation Site at Jugedi, Early Warning Site at Devghat, Market Access for Smallholder Farmers (MASF) site in Chainpur and Pithuwa, Strengthening Water, Air, Sanitation and Hygiene Treasuring Health (SWASTHA) site in Bagbazar and Renewable Energy site at Hurhure Danda.
MASF site in particular was very interesting to see. The Practical Action office in Nepal, with financial support through the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) implemented the dairy component of MASF in 30 Village Development Committees (VDCs) and two municipalities of four districts in Nepal – Chitwan, Tanahu, Gorkha and Dhading. The objective of this two-year project is to reduce poverty of smallholder farmers in Nepal through improving the incomes of 10,000 smallholder dairy farmers.
We decided to visit a few MASF project sites in Eastern Chitwan. The first site was Panchayan Dairy Cooperative in Pithuwa VDC. The team was able to interact with the cooperative members and observe their dairy resource centre, feed mill and the chilling station. At the dairy resource centre, the cooperative had kept dairy cows and calves of different breeds. The calves were bred there and cows were milked twice a day and sent to the cooperative’s own chilling station. The chilling station and milk collection centre services the surrounding villages. Not only was the cooperative able to collect and chill the milk but they had also installed a feed mill where they made high-quality feed for cows. It was really impressive to see how the project has helped the cooperative to be self-sufficient and it could be seen in the proud faces of the cooperative members. Panchayan Dairy Cooperative is truly an example-setting dairy cooperative that shows the success of MASF project in Nepal.
The second visit was to Kamdhenu Dairy Cooperative in Chainpur VDC and we observed the dairy farm operated by the cooperative. Although smaller in size as compared to Panchayan, Kamdhenu has also, in its own right, made successful gains in milk production and sales. With the help from the MASF project, they have successfully progressed towards more efficient production and effective market access. In the same VDC, the team also interacted with a few Dalit beneficiaries – traditionally regarded as ‘untouchables’. We were able to witness another extraordinary impact from the project. The project had set up a revolving fund which could be accessed by the neediest Dalit families. They would use the fund to buy cows and slowly pay back to the fund from selling the milk. The fund would then help other Dalit families to buy more cows. They were able to purchase dairy cows because of the revolving fund activity without which they would not have had the capital to invest. It was inspiring to see this socially disadvantaged group benefiting from the project and their positive attitude and eagerness to add more cows.
By visiting the field sites, the PAC Asia team has gained first-hand knowledge regarding the projects. We were all able to understand, through interactions with beneficiaries and stakeholders, the impacts made through the work of Practical Action. It was also understood that most of the beneficiaries are happy and are thankful to Practical Action and have invited to do more in their community. We were amazed to meet and interact with the communities we work with and at the same time proud to be associated with the organization that has worked with them to improve livelihoods and change lives! PAC Asia is developing new work and projects in India, Bhutan and beyond, so we need to take these lessons and grow them for an even bigger impact.
The story ends here but the journey continues for PAC Asia especially with two projects already in the pipeline: Gravity Goods Ropeway in Bhutan and Early Warning System in Afghanistan. Here’s to the future.No Comments » | Add your comment
The Chepang are a semi nomadic tribe in Nepal, numbering around 52,000 scattered across the country. These communities often live in very poor conditions and the Chepang in Hiklung village, Gorkha district are no exception.
Although the village is only 500m from one of the major highways of the country, it is a million miles from mainstream society. No road connects the village at top of the hill to the highway along the opposite bank of the Trishuli river and no bridge crosses the river. People from the village used to walk for several hours to reach the highway.
Access for Opportunities, an EU funded project, supported the community to install a gravity ropeway in 2009 and an improved tuin in 2011 to transport goods and to cross the river respectively. At the same time, Practical Action undertook complementary activities to improve living conditions in the village. These included product diversification, training for farmers and micro irrigation. The village began to thrive as never before. A few weeks ago I visited the village and my chest swelled with pride to witness the change.
“We used to grow very little food, not even enough for 2-3 months. The rest of the year we lived on forest roots and tubers. Some of us used to work in Fishling Bazaar as porters to support our families and some worked overseas in India and Arab countries” Says Rantna Chepang, the Chairperson of the Jalapa Devi Agriculture Cooperative, formed with the help of the project.
“From this project we received improved seeds, micro irrigation technologies and new farming skills. Most importantly, we got the ropeway for transporting our goods to market. Now, we are producing surplus crops and each household earns NPR 120,000 ($ 1380) per annum from selling vegetables “
This income is nearly double Nepal’s average per capita income of $742, which is heavily reliant on remittances from abroad. This has triggered marked improvements in the living condition of the 56 Chepang households in the village.
Prem Chepang, 42, has suffered from tuberculosis for more than a decade. Previously his earnings were too small to afford medication for this curable disease. Now, like many villagers he is making a good income from selling vegetables and has saved enough money to seek treatment from doctors in Kathmandu. He is hopeful that one day he will be free from the disease.
Every monsoon, Basu Chepang, 36, struggled to keep his house dry. Its straw roofing wouldn’t prevent the rain entering his house. Now, along with many others in the village, he has corrugated iron roofing – the most obvious sign of the prosperity in rural Nepal.
For, Devi Chepang, a teacher in a primary school in the village, the change unfolded in the form of improvement in children education and hygiene. Before the project, attendance was low and the children’s hygiene was poor.
“Now parents have more time and money to invest in their children’s education and hygiene. The school introduced school uniform this year which would have been impossible before as the parents couldn’t afford it.” Devi told me.
Panmanya Chepang, 32, has never been happier. Her husband has returned home from Saudi Arabia where he had been working for 6 years. “Now, we are making more money from vegetable farming than he was able to send home from Saudi. I am determined not to send him back to Saudi and we are working hard for it “says Panmaya.
Panmaya is also the treasurer of Jalapa Devi Agriculture Cooperative. The cooperative’s Capital has risen to $5232 in less than a year. The farmers are saving regularly $2.3 every month in the cooperative and it is providing credit to local farmers who need it.
This model village now showcases what a marginalized community can achieve if they have access to right skills and technologies. Chepang communities from elsewhere in the country visit to the village to draw inspiration.
The community deserves all the praise for taking responsibility for changing their lives and working hard for it. Practical Action is proud to provide a helping hand to their journey to prosperity.2 Comments » | Add your comment
Practical Action’s SWASHTHA project is addressing major environmental health risks, such as indoor air quality, water quality, sanitation and hygiene to create healthy homes and benefit 30,000 women and children and family members in these households. We are working with people, mainly women and children, from the socially excluded communities and marginalised ethnic and other caste groups in urban areas of Bharatpur, Butwal, Gularia and Tikapur municipalities.
Most memorable moment: Two really super bits for me personally today, firstly interviewing the woman from the co-op about her life and family and also sketching at the Dalit village with a huge crowd of little children watching.
Best person you met today: The interviewee – she was so gracious and willing, after a little initial hesitancy, and it was great to find that life for her family had most certainly improved because of the Practical Action dairy project.
What made you stop and think? So much! Again, being impressed by the calibre of Practical Action’s staff. Today it was Prakesh, the vet. So clear what value there is in being able to provide such professional expertise where it is needed. Good to see the mutual respect of all who are involved.
Anything else you want to say? I had to remind myself not to romanticise the life of the villagers. On such a lovely sunny day like this, with such welcomes everywhere, it looked good.
Most memorable moment: Watching Helen and a Nepali woman totally engaged with each other while Practical Action supporters, local villagers and children milled around them.
Best person you met today: Pratibha Acharya, a 17 year old Nepali girl currently in school and planning to go on to college and study farm management.
What made you stop and think?
Anything else you want to say? Last visit to Nawalparasi library didn’t work well because we met nobody who had personally benefitted from Practical Action work or projects.
Most memorable moment: The visit to the SWASTHA village and the changes to people’s lives by water, improved kitchens, and proper loos. Helen sketching by the river!
Best person you met today: Shanta Lama, a lady interviewed about SWASTHA and her comment about her improved kitchen which had led to fewer arguments!
What made you stop and think? The loss of land suffered by the farmer, Mana Badudur, at the DIPECHO site but his belief that he is no longer scared and felt safe/secure
Most memorable moment: Keshab Raj Achasoja and Ram Hazi Avyal heartily and joyously singing from the Muhabarat at the Thiskuni Community Library. Keshab co-ordinates the library’s religious programme – providing a place, musical instruments and books for those in the community wanting to celebrate their religion. He just took down a copy of the Muhabarat from the shelves and started singing and his friend joined in – infectious joy and a great picture He said, ‘Before the library we could just eat and sleep, take care of the animals, sometimes play cards. Now people come here, see all the books and magazines and know about the rest of the world.’
Best person you met today: Prakesh who runs the Kamadhere DFID-funded Practical Action project helping farmers with getting decent breeding stock, advice and expertise on food, help on animal health and much more. A great find for Practical Action as he trained as a vet for 5 ½ years at the only vet college in Nepal – others there went abroad to make a living, while Prakesh went to an NGO to use his skills for the community and then to Practical Action to set up and run an inspiring project with local co-operatives to produce more food and improve the livelihoods of some of the poorest.
What made you stop and think? Two examples of harnessing the knowledge of experts to help people help themselves 1. Prakesh and his work as a vet with local farmers 2. The Practical Answers interactive session at the library – Kemal Kent Singh, agricultural technician with a local agricultural company with expertise in manure, fertilisers and plants – was the expert brought in to answer interactively by computer the latest batch of questions from the farmers.
Anything else you want to say? Children – lots of wonderful incidents today with great children enjoying being photographed and being indulged by their families and all on the Practical Action expedition, from 6 year old Aurit who had to be in, and pose for, every photo and clearly should be a Hollywood star – to 11 and 12 year old Deepika, Gianga and Pabitra (and their nan) who already learned quite a bit of English and had lovely writing. All kids and families have benefitted from the projects we saw – and some of whom now have higher expectations of their future than we would have heard some years ago. When did Nepalese children learn words like ‘handshake’ and ‘high five’? Lots of laughter and smiles – great!
Most memorable moment: At Shree Kamadhenu Milk Co-operative Improved Cattle Resource Centre (phew!) the gentle pride and love shown in the way the men talked bout their cows and touched them, and talked about them.
Best person you met today: At the Grass Cultivation Centre, the man who explained how Napier grass is cut and gave me a root of it. Also the man who invited me to see his new house and his cows but then said actually his wife built the house. And the man who wanted me to see his 600 chickens.
What made you stop and think? At the Dalit village – Chainspur – I thought the cow-funding arrangements surprisingly tight and fast-moving (11 families per month enabled to buy cows) and I guess I began to grasp how much involvement there is from members of groups – co-ops, Practical Action, UKAID, Nepali, community forest user group, etc, etc – and banks, chambers of commerce etc. And at the library, Practical Answers’ support on technical queries – after local experts have been asked to solve issues raised at Community meetings.
Anything else you want to say? Children – lots of wonderful incidents today with great children enjoying being photographed and being indulged by their families and all on the Practical Action expedition, from 6 year old Aurit who had to be in, and pose for, every photo and clearly should be a Hollywood star – to 11 and 12 year old Deepika, Gianga and Pabitra (and their nan) who already learned quite a bit of English and had lovely writing. Ll kids and families have benefitted from the projects we saw – and some of whom now have higher expectations of their future than we would have heard some years ago. When did Nepalese children learn words like ‘handshake’ and ‘high five’? Lots of laughter and smiles – great!No Comments » | Add your comment
I’m visiting Nepal with a group of long standing Practical Action supporters to see examples of our work. We have now headed into the mountains to visit remote communities with challenging transport problems. Practical Action has been helping through the construction of tuins, which enable people to cross rivers more quickly and safely and gravity ropeways, which provide a way for people in mountain villages to send their produce to local markets. The group has been joined by Michelle Slaney, who works on climate change in Practical Action’s Nepal office.
I was very struck by the simplicity and effectiveness of the gravity ropeway technology. It is life changing for the people that use it, but so straightforward in terms of moving parts. The service provided by the tuin has such potential and I’m very excited about how the coop that runs it might develop. I also feel hugely proud to have such expert and enthusiastic colleagues working in Nepal.
Here are some comments from other members of the party:
Most memorable moment: seeing the gravity ropeway for the first time – I knew all the principles beforehand but the operation still seems like magic.
Best person you met today: the guy who operates the ropeway (especially the brake) with so much casual skill.
What made you stop and think? How the economics of the ropeway work – and how the benefits get passed on to more than a select few people.
Anything else you want to say? Surely there’s a better way to work the Tuin than pulling on the rope with your bare hands? Can’t it wrap around a sheave and be worked by hand cranks or pedals? Could go faster with less effort.
Most memorable moment: Discussing the impact of the tuin with Kazji
Best person you met today: Robindra from Practical Action office – cheerful, efficient, and a fine model for others working in Nepal.
What made you stop and think? A far better understanding of the impact of tuins and ropeways
Anything else you want to say? A beautiful drive out of Kathmandu but direct observations of poverty
Most memorable moment: Riding in the Tuin, which felt so much safer and more comfortable than expected. A rather beautiful red sedan chair on cables!
Best person you met today: Our driver, for negotiating the difficult rough roads and the rest of the traffic, from large trucks to heavily laden bicycles, buses, etc, etc, overtaking on blind corners, tooting as they went.
What made you stop and think? The achievement of building that long ropeway, seeing how it was used, and hearing what a difference it made to the community, as became clear when the tomato-farmer Kaji was being interviewed.
Anything else you want to say? I loved seeing the people in the tomato shed, the colourful clothes and beautiful faces.
Most memorable moment: Seeing the efficiency of the gravity ropeway and understanding what a huge impact it can make in so many people’s lives and fore their livelihood opportunities – awesome!
Best person you met today: Robindra (Practical Action project manager) – so passionate about his work, so technically knowledgeable, and such a beautiful human quality that he can relate as well to villagers as to the Trustees and supporters. He is simply the kind of person who commands your attention and respect.
What made you stop and think? How such a small amount of money/investment can reap such huge economic benefit/welfare and livelihood opportunities. And how communities are so adaptable when they have been introduced to an idea/technology, or way of working, e.g. forming a collective.
Most memorable moment: The Hikling Tuin serving the Chepang villagers who, two generations ago were nomadic hunter-gatherers then shifted to farming but were severely exploited and deprived but now have a management committee, access to the main road and all that this means, e.g. we saw secondary age girls returning from school. Also, I think the ropeway near the Tuin was used by Hikling village to bring down tomatoes (by 10 am to get the best price from buyers).
Best person you met today: I liked the Devisthan woman at the tomato ‘station’ at Fishling who waved her hand and turned her back, meaning that’s enough damn fool questions.
What made you stop and think? Mind boggled by how cables of ‘ropeway’ were laid on that terrain hand-to-hand, we were told.No Comments » | Add your comment
A group of long standing Practical Action supporters are visiting Nepal to see examples of our work. Last week they visited a project in the Kathmandu Valley where Practical Action is working with a group of around 4,000 waste pickers, many of whom are children, to help them improve their living conditions.
You can read below some of the comments from the group about their experiences so far.
These waste pickers live in squatter settlements along the riverbanks of the Kathmandu valley in Nepal and make their living by selling materials such as plastic, metal, cloth and paper collected from tips, bins and roadsides. They are the poorest of the poor. They have no formal relationship with the municipality or recycling traders and have very low social status and earnings. Most are illiterate and lack the skills to add value to goods they’ve collected. As a result they are exploited by waste management organisations and working conditions are atrocious. They also suffer from a multitude of occupation related health problems and the children have no access to education.
Activities of this project include:
- Working with local government to formalise the role of waste pickers to improve their status in society include:
- Raising awareness about health and safety, water, sanitation and hygiene and handling hazardous waste
- Business skills training and help with setting up waste related enterprises
- Testing of new waste processing technologies
- Forming micro credit groups
- Informal adult education
- Providing basic education for both adults and children
Most memorable moments: Helen talking to a boy about a wonderful poster outside the school at the PRISM project while Kate from Practical Action later met a woman sorting plastic bags whose child was at the school. I’ve seen children in other countries scrubbing through waste to get a tiny amount of money just to survive. It was great to see a project helping adults do this unpleasant work safely while their children are at school getting an education.
Two posters – the first aimed at the public saying ‘waste pickers are those that keep the city clean – respect them and the second at the school with a picture of each child. It’s good to promote respect for those who do the dirtiest,worst jobs and also saying to each child that you have worth and you have the right to be treated decently.
Seeing Warwick and Kate from Practical Action seeing the work in action, Kate on her first ever project and seeing how the good work that they do in Rugby is actually helping people on the ground.
Best person you met today: Srijana, who did business studies at Coventry and is now at home working to improve the lives of the waste pickers of Kathmandu and their children.
Most memorable moment: The happy children at the primary school doing ‘Namaste’. It’s so good the waste pickers are able to pay for their children’s education.
Best person you met today: Srijana, with all her clear information and explanations and such a good attitude
What made you stop and think? What didn’t! Maybe the posters getting over the message that waste picking, with proper equipment (masks, gloves, boots) is a respectable profession.
Anything else you want to say? I was impressed by all the aspects of this project, adding up to improve these workers’ lives – health care, working together as a co-operative, educating their children.
Most memorable moment: Driving into the area around the waste sites and seeing the difference from the ‘tourist’ areas of Kathmandu we had seen the day before.
Best person you met today: I was impressed by the quiet dignity of women sitting in a row, hour after hour in baking sun shredding plastic bags
What made you stop and think? When we were told a plastic bag shredding machine would hugely boost the waste-pickers’ income by up to 25 Rupees per hour – the equivalent of 20 pence. OK, costs here are lower, but not that much lower.
Sam Crowe (aged 16)
Most memorable moment: Meeting and taking photos with the school children of Kathmandu
Best person you met today: A school child who was very enthusiastic about meeting new people and learning how a camera worked
What made you stop and think? Watching the waste pickers allowed you to reflect on life back at home.
Clive Quick (Sam’s grandfather)
Most memorable moment: Seeing the wet waste pickers at work
Best person you met today: The boss at the dry waste site
What made you stop and think? The whole idea of people living from the barest level of recycling and seeing the happy faces of the children of waste pickers at school
Anything else you want to say? Reading about how people live and seeing them on TV doesn’t impress nearly as much as meeting the people and seeing them at work.
Most memorable moment: The sea of multi-coloured plastic bags which had been torn up by the wet waste wworker women and was being raked over to dry. What do they do when it rains? Also, how healthy and full of energy the ‘graduate’ kids looked in their wall of fame.
Best person you met today: Srijana is pretty damn good.
What made you stop and think? How often can the dry waste men who sell to the dealer get back to villages to see families? Living conditions for those children with their books and clean, smart gingham shirts etc – it’s not just 20% of school fees investment by their families but also supporting them as school children.
Anything else you want to say? Of those who’ve ’graduated’ either from Lower Secondary or at 16 years old, what next for them? And if onward and upward, how does this square with the rest of their families and their lifestyle/circumstances?