In mid-December a team of delegates from UNICEF visited our Renewable World showcase technology site in Saptari, Nepal where young people were actively engaged in commissioning, operation and management of the new technology.
In the picture: girl on the right is Jugunu Kathun, she is working as a community mobiliser in our project and the girl (third from right in white shawl) is Rehana Kathun, she is a care taker of Solar water system.
The adolescents are also receiving training on life skills, micro enterprise, vocational and livelihood options as a part of adolescent development and participation program sponsored by UNICEF.
The showcase of renewable energy systems is part of our Adolescent Development Programme, which is designed to brighten the futures of over 72,000 young people through providing access to renewable energy for livelihood enhancement.
The visit was planned to highlight the ongoing progress of the programme in Saptari and to demonstrate the positive impact it is having on the lives of young people and the community here.
Delegates observed a number of training workshops and were talked through the renewable energy systems by two recipients of the programme, Juguna Kathun and Rehana Kathun.
Jugunu Khatun, a participant of our Nepal programme has found employment as the community mobiliser for Saptari an opportunity of learning and encouraging. She said: “this has given me an opportunity to work for my community and I feel very positive. I am keen to continue the work if the opportunity is given”
Lata Shrestha, Senior Project Manager at Renewable World said: “the UNICEF delegates gave very positive feedback about the visit. They were delighted to see the two girls empowered in this way and mentioned that it was the first time they had seen different renewable technology systems successfully integrated. We are grateful to our implementing partners SAPPROS Nepal and BSP Nepal for their hard work and dedication, and UNICEF for their continued support in bringing sustainable energy sources to remote communities.”
When Renewable World first arrived in Saptari, the community had no access to an affordable energy supply and relied upon firewood and low grade fuel for cooking. Heavy use of hard fuel polluted household air, leading to serious breathing problems and incidences of regular eye infection amongst women and children in the community. Women and adolescent girls are responsible for collecting firewood and on average they spend up to three hours a day. Interviewed adolescent girls mentioned that burden of drudgery work, mainly wood collection was the major reason why they discontinued their education. This, coupled with a lack of sanitation facilities and disease from open defecation, resulted in a health crisis with no healthcare in sight.
Without an affordable energy source the community, especially women and girl child spend the majority of the day in reproductive work. As a result, girl child are missing out on education and women are missing out on engaging in productive work. Lack of time meant that HHs were only involved in subsistence farming and not kitchen gardens. The team observed that children in the community were undernourished due to lack of nutritional food consumption. This chronic lack of basic facilities and resources meant the community was trapped in a cycle of poverty without the means to escape it.
Fast forward to the present and life in Saptari is very different.
In the picture: A young girl using the new biogas supply to cook
Renewable World and partners have installed solar water pumping and community bio-gas plant in the community, to provide water for multiple usages and fuel for cooking to those living in the area. To Support Renewable World initiation, District Development committee have supported school to build a class room and households to build toilets.
In the picture: Young girls receiving agricultural training
Vegetables such as Aburgine, cauliflower, bitter gourd are thriving in the school kitchen garden, catering for the 70 children living in hostel, using micro irrigation system and slurry from the biogas plant. A solar water pump lifts water to the school and hostel, and water is supplied to the kitchen for drinking and cooking, toilets for sanitation, irrigation in kitchen garden and to the Waju Khana for washing and cleaning. The provision has been made to supply waste water to the fish pond for re-filling. Clean biogas is used for cooking and the slurry from the biogas plant is used to fertilise crops and to feed fish in the community fishpond.
The site is used as a base for training workshops, giving young people the chance to interact with technology and to learn how to utilise energy resources for income improvement and social good.
Without intervention children and young people in rural communities like Saptari, girls between the ages 10-19 have very limited life choices. They commonly enter child marriages or else are driven into the larger cities, seeking work but all too often finding exploitation at the hands of human traffickers and pimps.
This situation is unacceptable which is why we are investing in the younger generation of Nepal to help to break the cycle of poverty. We anticipate that our input here will help secure a happy and prosperous future for thousands of young people, especially girls. We also believe it is important to actively engage young adolescents in our project which will bring ownership and ensure long term sustainability. The project in Saptari has not only supported young adolescent to have access to energy but also have given them an opportunity to learn and develop skills while being engaged in the project implantation stages.
The successful programme at our Saptari site is proving every day that community owned renewable technology really can tackle the root causes of poverty in rural Nepal.
By Alice Larkin, Events and Communications Officer, Renewable World.