“Kani Pani” means Drinking Water in Nepali.
Currently there is no piped, safe, drinking water in greater Dhawa – an area of nearly 5000 inhabitants.
The village has open taps, where water free-runs all year round, though it can be very slow in dry months. Families walk up to 30 minutes to reach a tap. Some offer only contaminated water, for animals or crops.
During summer months, a majority of water sources become infected with intestinal parasites – such as Giardia and Cyclospora. Easily preventable diseases are widespread, all year around.
With no privacy for washing, and with carried water more valuable for cooking and drinking, most villagers only wash only once a week. Culinary hygiene knowledge is also desperately poor. Health suffers on all counts.
Productivity is also massively affected as villagers devote up to two or three hours a day making up to ten trips to fetch sufficient water for their families. Water – which may not even be clean enough to drink.
Learning Planet is working with the community, local partners, local and national authorities, and international infrastructure businesses, to develop short, medium and long term solutions simultaneously.
A NEW PARTNERSHIP BEGINS
The Immediate need – is to provide clean drinking water to around a thousand children at the village schools each day.
Two initial opportunities were selected 1) Tapping a new source and pumping the water up to the two largest schools in Dhawa. 2) Re-piping an old source high above Balimtar – which can provide clean drinking water to the entire village. The two projects are illustrated here, with stills from Google Earth.
In 2013, with designs completed, and pipe quantities estimated, we approached national and international plastic pipe producers, to seek assistance with the kilometres of pipe needed to complete the initial projects.
In Nepal good quality HDPP and MDPP pipe are hard to find. No one manufactures fittings to make simple joints in HDPP pipe – and heat welding is the only solution for joints. While this is acceptable for many needs, it’s not useful for simple repairs and maintenance.
So we approached Polypipe – one of the largest manufacturers of plastic pipe and associated products, in the world.
The response we had was nothing short of amazing – with various different parts of the Polypipe organisation of companies, from all over the UK, working together to work out the best way to assist us.
By April we had an agreement. Polypipe would supply us with all the pipe and fittings needed to water the schools and village of Balimtar – if we could manage to transport the goods to Nepal.
Here’s a photo of the huge consignment they arranged for us. Hats off to you guys.
Next we had to work out how to get nearly 1000Kg of goods to a landlocked nation without spending more on freight than we would have on the goods themselves. Due to the size of the pipe rolls, we could only use a wide bodied aircraft – limiting our choice very considerably.
Our trusted freight agent tried for 3 months, but couldn’t acheve any significant savings. So we began contacting airlines ourselves. And Thai Airways came to our rescue. A huge thanks to Su and the cargo team at Heathrow for making it happen.
Altgether it took more than 6 months to get the pipe to Nepal – but now we’ve begun building an infrastructure, in collaboration with the villagers, which will last for a minimum of 20 years. Watch this space for more pictures as we complete in time for Monsoon
CREATING A NEW INFRASTRUCTURE, VILLAGE WIDE
Our partners, Abari, completed their prototype for our first bamboo-reinforced water tank – a long term water storage solution roughly half the cost of existing technologies. And we brought a British Army water expert to the village for two months, to assist the community with design and implementation for this and future systems.
The medium-term goal is to harness a renewable, low cost technology to self drive water from a local river, through filtration/sedimentation reservoirs to a completed 20,000 litre holding tank at the highest point in Dhawa. Water can then be distributed by gravity to key distribution points in the village.
A hydrology study by the local water authority has been undertaken to assess water quality and suggest solutions. A 3-phase electrified plan using very expensive Galvanised Iron (GI) pipe was proposed but rejected by the villagers due to very high running and installation costs – which will not be sustainable.
Instead, building Intermediate reservoirs will allow the use of much smaller pumps and High Density Polypropylene Pipe (now far superior to metal in longevity, safety and cost).
Using Micro-hydro (RAM pumps) is one solution – capturing 90% more water than we pump, using the energy from that flow to self power the lift. An alternative is to use DC solar pumps.
MANAGING THE PROJECT
Land for the first new 20,000 litre holding tank was donated to the village by Shree Prabhat Secondary School, and the School Management Comittee (SMC) will oversee contruction and management of the new service, appointing a new subcommittee to do so. This will increase the school’s own sustainability, with an additional (modest) income in return for maintaining the plant.
The new organisation will offer villagers the chance to get piped clean water, direct to their homes, for the first time for a small fee, from the planned distribution points.
The long term goal is to see how Dhawa can be used as a test case to pioneer a communal approach to improved utilities, with villagers paying what they are able to afford for a low-maintenance, renewably powered solution.
As some pioneering groups in South East Asia have shown, RAM pumps themselves could be constructed in the village from locally available materials – ensuring on-going maintencance is easy, extremely cheap, and trouble free.
Learning Planet is currently seeking financial and technical partners for the initial pilot which will involve local Nepali and international expertise.