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Stories from the Field: Bringing light to Humla

Text: Kaushal Man Shrestha & Lorina Sthapit

Photos: Suraj Shakya & Lorina Sthapit

For the people of Kharpel, electricity was once a phenomenon many had only heard stories about. The times have changed, however, with a micro hydropower station built under the initiative of WUPAP in 2009.

“I can now do my homework at night after I finish all the chores,” said 12 year-old Kamala Shahi, pointing at the fluorescent bulb in her house.

Elders in the village claim that the children are doing much better in school and are keener on studies. Further, the villagers are now able to get more information as well as entertainment through radio and television.

Before WUPAP’s intervention, villagers would burn Jharo, a type of local fodder, for light. When burnt indoors, it left soot particles in the lungs and caused respiratory problems. Access to electricity, the villagers say, has significantly reduced this issue. As a result, the villagers value even the most basic form of electricity. This is where people celebrate electricity.

Electricity, however, is not the only benefit of the micro hydropower system. It also provides clean water to the inhabitants of Kharpel. Villagers, especially women save significant time and energy in fetching water, as they initially had to walk miles to the nearest river to collect water. 

“We used to miss our classes when we had to go that far to collect water”, said Kamala, who can now access tapped water three minutes away from her house. The water system serves 103 families in the village, providing clean water in close proximity. 

Villagers of Kharpel, today, live a much healthier and hygienic life compared to the past. Before the establishment of the micro hydro project, women would rarely have spare water to wash themselves after cleaning their homes. Following the introduction of the water system, there is enough water, not only for household purposes, but also for irrigation. Hence, the agricultural production of the village has also improved.

This small initiative from WUPAP has proved a great boon for the development of the entire village. 

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Kharpel, a small village in Far Western Humla, is among the most mesmerizing yet least explored and underdeveloped regions in Nepal. At an altitude of 3,685 meters, it has breathtaking landscape, but it alsohas harsh climates and infertile land. In addition, physical isolation is also a major obstacle. Our trek to Kharpel involved a 60-minute flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, 45-minute flight from Nepalgunj to Simikot (the capital of Humla), and finally, a seven-hour crawl up rugged uphills and slippery downhills. 

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Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project (WUPAP) 2003-2014

The hill and mountain districts of Far and Mid Western Nepal are the most isolated and economically impoverished regions of the country. Due to poor infrastructure and access to markets, these districts suffer from food insecurity and limited economic opportunities.

The Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project, funded by IFAD, aims to strengthen the livelihoods of the rural poor in these regions in a sustainable manner. The project focuses on landless people, small or marginalized farmers with particular emphasis on women, youth, and other socially and economically disadvantaged groups.

Uttam Prasad Nagila, Project Coordinator

Project Coordination Unit, Ranjha, Nepalgunj

+977 81 565043/565232 | uttamngl@yahoo.com

www.wupap.gov.np             

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