Jerome and Jeroen meet
Dear friends and supporters.
My apologies but there has been little movement with this project since my last report. As indicated then winter was on its way and moving about in the Hidden Himalayas can be problematic. This has proven to be the situation with, probably, one of the worst winters in living memory. Not a huge problem for local people who have to get on with their lives but difficult for outsiders.
Clean renewable energy is recognised as the power source of the future throughout the world. If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change we have to change our ways and act quickly. The remote parts of the Himalayas have little choice but to adopt these new technologies or continue with the traditional ways of deforestation and smoky oil lamps; bad for the environment and very bad for personal health. There is little chance of connection to a national grid and government support is negligable, their only real choice is to manage community based systems that require some expertise and technical support. That is why the Nepal Trust is so proactive in this area and very anxious to get this new Service Centre off the ground. We have an excellent record of supporting and maintaining the many installations constructed over the last 20 years but it is now time to build sustainability in to the system and that is why we need to have a locally managed Service Centre ready to deal with problems that are usually beyond the capabilities of poor hill farmers.
The village of Ghoti in south Humla is at the centre of rapid economic activity. The nearby village of Sakegad is home to a Nepal Trust Health Clinic and Birthing Centre. A new hospital is nearing completion and there is a busy secondary school, the only one outside Simikot. In 1998 village elders approached the Trust with the idea to construct a hydro electric scheme. They had a very good perpetual water source and the new clinic, the school, mills and homes would all benefit. Wood supplies were getting more and more difficult to source. The Trust agreed and a proposal was prepared. Unfortunately all plans had to be put on hold for a number of years due to the civil war that erupted and particularly as this area became a centre of rebel activity.
When peace arrived interest was reignited and plans were resurrected. Costs, due to inflation, had risen steeply but the local people were enthusiastic and helped to source grants and provide local labour and resources during construction. The Ghoti scheme is probably one the largest private schemes in Nepal and provides power to 5 villages, schools, clinics, food and wood mills and has opened up a whole new area of economic possibilities.
Our Country Director, Jeroen van den Bergh, visited the area 9 months ago. Following is a short report he has prepared that demonstrates the need, some issues and the satisfaction of completing a much needed project.
When we visited Gothi in 2007 we had a big meeting on the rock with the entire community discussing the plans forward. In 2008 I revisited the site to sign all local contracts and await the first helicopters flying in as from 2008 onward we started the implementation of the project, which took over 4 years work, basically a day-to-day affair.
In order to ship in all the equipment by helicopters, we had to create a new helicopter platform, for which we had to fly in civil aviation and Nepal army to verify the site. So for this project we created an official landing site in the district.
At that time during my field trip, I also worked with a health worker called Jerome, as we had health volunteers during that period, helping out in the health post we constructed in the same area. He knew about the plans to construct a micro-hydro in Gothi since he was a young boy, so he couldn't believe that after almost 10 years it finally became a reality. The happiness on his face made me realize why we do this work. It was a genuine happy feeling. At that time Gothi was almost like a beehive village, with not much modern development. Many discussions took place and after 4 years of work the scheme was finally inaugurated and made operational. Now when visiting the site it was a great pleasure to see the scheme still working and especially the civil and mechanical components were in good condition. Gothi has been way more developed and more modern GI sheet roofs have taken over from traditional structures. A whole different sight.
A pleasant surprise was that on the way back to Simikot, I met Jerome with his new son along the way. We recognized each other instantly, which was a nice meeting after pretty much 10 years.
The Ghoti project is one of many such projects the Trust has implemented over the years. If these remote mountain people are to survive they must adapt, which they are doing but they need our help. We still need your support to get this project off the ground so I hope you will continue to contribute in some way. Perhaps you can encourage friends, neighbours and colleagues to help? Do you know anyone with a passion for renewable energy and saving the planet that might be interested?
Thank you for all you have done to support our cause.
Ghoti water source
Ghoti penstock pipe
The helicopter platform