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The Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) Challenge is a program where first year University Students throughout Australia are required to select from a range of problems associated with the living conditions of a disadvantaged community within Nepal, more specifically the village of Sandikhola, a hilltop community in the Gorkha district. The students are then required to develop creative solutions to combat these problems to benefit the community through design, teamwork and proper communication. This particular research report group 9C will be focusing on Water Supply and Sanitation Systems (WASH), in particular Multiple Use Systems (MUS). MUS refers to a system where the water is used for a range of purposes, so as to minimize the amount of fresh water needed to be drawn from the source and increase the applicability of the source. This report will be outlining research conducted into the MUS including; the geography of the Gorkha district, a case study on a WASH initiative already in place in Nepal, also included in the report will be an evaluation of sources of research, and a conclusion of the report.
2.1 Geography of the Gorkha District
The Gorkha District in Nepal is located on the mid-southern area of the Terai region roughly the center of Nepal. More specifically the village of Sandikhola is located approximately 42 kilometers North East of Bharatpur, which roughly is over an hour drive each way via a dirt road which is only accessible by 4×4’s and is not accessible in wet conditions. The village of Sandikhola is located on the side of a hill with an elevation of 1256 meters, and is roughly divided into three different sections consisting of crops, housing and livestock.
2.1.1 Natural Resources
Land is seen as the most valuable natural resource to most citizens of the Gorkha district. With over 80% of the population, 24 506 759 people, earning a livelihood from farming, which in turn produces 36.1% of GDP on a national scale. Due to water shortages and unreliability in relation to irrigation, this is not a secure resource for the people of the Gorkha district. The only problem with utilizing land to this major of a scale is that it is being overly depleted due to the accelerating growth of population, leading to widespread destruction of ecological systems. The other resource is water, which are polluted due to lack of sanitization and the lack of the resource, other than location, is due to de-forestation and the devastating effects it has on the environment.
2.1.2 Technological Resources
The Gorkha district has very limited technological resources, especially when 90% of the population live in rural areas and average earnings per family per week are below a dollar which make the affordability of technological resources impossible for poor families. Surprisingly the telephone signal throughout the district is surprisingly good although this is a under used resource due to lack of infrastructure and finances. With under 7% of the population having access to the internet communication on a global and even national scale can be highly difficult. Due to the developing nature of Nepal access to any modern technology is unviable, with it sometimes taking up to and over 6 months for any technology to reach many rural communities e.g. water testing kits.
2.1.3 Population and Income
Through researching Population and Income it was found that there are over 30 million people in Nepal, with approximately 300 000 people in Gorkha. The Terai region accommodates for 50.27% of the total population, roughly 15 million people, which is the mountainous/ hilly region of Nepal which can make life very difficult for these people in particular. The average household income is less than one dollar a day with more than 40% living under the poverty line. In the Gorkha district 90% of citizens live in rural areas which goes to show the lack of urban connection further reinforcing the fact that development of technology in relation to water use will greatly affect the population in all aspects of life.
2.1.4 Natural Disasters
Natural Disasters have a major effect on developing countries, especially where climate change is concerned. This is due to the high dependence on climate sensitive sectors in the Gorkha district including glaciers, agriculture and forestry, and its low financial adaptive capacity. These disasters are becoming increasingly common with the acceleration of global warming. This is due to the increased temperatures experienced compared to 1990 to 2010 where an increase of 1.9 Degrees Celsius to the average temperature, these particular natural disasters include an increase in dry periods, floods, intense rainfall, landslides, forest fires, glacial retreats, and glacier lake outburst flood threats. The other main natural disasters common to this area are earthquakes due to the positioning of Gorkha on the meeting point of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. These disasters need to be taken into account so the MUS can withstand destruction via natural disaster.
2.1.5 Climatic Conditions
Shown in these two graphs (below) is the average rainfall and temperature of the Gorkha District. By studying these two graphs it can be seen that the year is divided into a wet and dry season with the temperature throughout the year remaining relatively constant with a minimum range of 3 degrees Celsius and a maximum range of 9 degrees Celsius. This research is essential to the analysis of water supply
2.1.6 Education Levels
In the Gorkha district education is a work in progress with the basic literacy rate at 45% of males and only 28% of women. In the district alone there are close to 500 schools, 400 of which are public. With the help of many Non-Government Organizations, development of these schools has had an excellent effect on the education system, for example at the end of 2013 1000 computers were distributed to these schools readily making available vast amounts of educational resources to these communities. The problems associated with the education levels include the travel distance especially within rural areas, and also the lack of proper WASH resources which affects the health of the students.
In relation to the Infrastructure available to the people of Gorkha it can be noted as ineffective. This is found as roads to many of the rural areas within which the majority lives, are virtually inaccessible without a 4×4, as less than a quarter of roads in Nepal actually being paved/concreted. This is increasingly made challenging due to less than 1% of the population actually having access to a car. The main form of transport readily available are the public buses, but on the other hand they are not extremely reliable with the multitude of strikes which occur, making life for the people more difficult when they have to walk for hours to get where they were going. Another major flaw is the inability for citizens to access a range of services with less than 15% of people having access to formal health care services, children having to walk on average 1-3 hours to attend school, there is also a lack of an electricity supply to majority of rural areas, lack of public sewage treatment in the majority of the district and in general isolation of rural areas.
2.2 Existing Solutions
In the community of Sandikhola, there is a wide range of problems associated with water supply. These include the accessibility to water sources, the cleanliness/quality of water supply, the amount of water supplied, and the ability for the resource to be effectively used across domestic uses and productive uses. Currently in Sandikhola approximately 80% of WASH techniques are currently in place with there being a few sources of water; one small waterway, eight tap stands and two spring intakes but during the dry season these intakes become unavailable due to low pressure. When this occurs the community must draw water from a larger spring located further away from the village down the hill. In the case of Sandikhola at each spring intake is a reservoir tank, there are three water quality testers spread across the village, one rain monitor and two flow monitors. Also introduced to this community is the use of recycling water, such as; capturing overflows at spring intakes, Rainwater Harvesting (RWH), Ground Water Capture (GWC), fog water, and grey water systems. Through the integration of a range of these sources, systems and techniques we develop a MUS system.
Basically the MUS is constructed via the connection of a range of single use technologies e.g. spring intake, storage tanks, tap stands. This is to reduce the amount of water requires for use by reducing waste water (sustainability), and also to make it more accessible for the villagers. For the construction many of the village members are heavily involved in construction so as to ensure the education of the MUS to the community allowing it to be properly maintained even after the EWB/NEWAH team leaves.
2.2.2 Inputs and Outputs
For the implementation of the MUS there are a number of inputs required, these include; help from a third party in this case EWB and NEWAH in relation to funding, research and designing, participation from members of the Sandikhola community, materials, current technologies, and tools. For every input there is an output, in this case once construction is completed some of the outputs of the technology become evident, these including; an increase of income and benefits in relation to this including; general health, nutrition, social empowerment, food security, time savings. Diversification of Livelihood, which is the process by which the community develops a range of activities and social support capabilities in order to survive and improve their standards of living i.e. education, inter/intra-societal interaction. Increase in sustainability including, efficient water transfer from the water source for domestic and productive applications.
3. Evaluation of Sources of Information
In research for this assignment, I tend to steer clear of any non-reliable or inaccurate resources. To do this books become an extremely valuable and trusted resource, and when using websites as resources I have stuck to .org websites while at the same time checking the about us section as not all .org sites are official sites. Some ways I checked the accuracy and validity of my sources of information include; analysis of the depth of coverage, determining the intended audience so it is relevant for this report, analysis of language used i.e. sophisticated to low level understanding. The dates of the information are essential for proper research, too old might be inaccurate compared to newer information. Does the source have a bibliography and the type of sources of information the author uses and an analysis of the layout and structure of the document. Through all of this analyzing we are able to determine the accurate and reliable sources of information.
In conclusion, through the research of the Gorkha district and my project area the MUS, it is possible to realize the positive potential that the implementation of the MUS has on all aspects of life. This is due to water playing a massive part in the lives of every human, and when there is a lack of sufficient resource, daily functionality is affected.
Renwick, et.al, 2007, “Multiple Use Water Services For The Poor: Assessing the state of Knowledge,” Winrock International: Arlington, VA Mikhail, et.al, 2008, “Multiple-Use Water Service Implementation in Nepal and India: Experience and Lessons Scale-Up,” International Development Enterprises: Lakewood, CO Engineers without Borders USA 2014, EWB-USA, Denver viewed 10 March 2014, http://my.ewb-usa.org/project-resources/technical-resources. iDE Organization 2014, iDEORG, Colorado viewed 10 March 2014, http://www.ideorg.org/OurTechnologies/MultipleUseWaterSystems.aspx#. Practical Action 2014, Practical Action, Rugby viewed 12 March 2014, http://practicalaction.org/mus-2. Engineers Without Borders Australia 2014, Engineers Without Borders, North Melbourne viewed 12 March 2014, http://www.ewbchallenge.org/nepal-water-healthnewah/sandikhola. Smith, J., 2014, Personal Communication, 25th February 2014 United Nations 2014, United Nations, New York viewed 12th March 2014, http://www.un.org.np/maps/nepal-gorkha-district. Rural poverty portal 2012, IFAD, Vancouver viewed 12 March 2014, http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/en/country/statistics/tags/nepal.