Namaste from Nepal!

After swerving through a jumble of motorbikes and pedestrians in one exhilarating taxi ride, I arrived at Adi’s house tucked in a peaceful side road of Kathmandu. Chad joined us soon after, and we celebrated the reunion with a scrumptious BBQ of chicken burgers (cows are holy). We sat under the starry sky and chatted with Adi’s father and younger brother, while his mother brought hot cups of tea that warmed us from the inside out. Such lovely hosts!

 

I woke up the next morning to the sound of roosters crowing across the street and dogs barking for them to shut their beaks. Team SafaPani was up and ready to get to work! We started out through the village, passing uniformed schoolchildren with the most adorable, cheeky smiles, and made our way to a taxi that carried us to Thamel – the bustling tourist center of Kathmandu. Adi brought us to one of his favorite coffee shops set in a former summer palace for royalty. Properly caffeinated, we powered through two hours of peak productivity.

Getting down to business!
Getting down to business!

Our main priority was to schedule meetings with water experts and NGOs, with whom we met over the next few days. The information and contacts they provided were invaluable. Here is a summary of what we learned:

 

VillageTech Solutions: Wouter (Dartmouth ’14 and DHE project leader) and Maria gave us insightful tips on how to approach and interact with NGOs in Nepal. Being culturally sensitive and phrasing projects as collaborations rather than impositions is key. The VillageTech team also came up with some great ideas to help us market the system, such as establishing networks for disseminating information through trusted doctors and educators.

Advice from the VillageTech team in Kathmandu.
Breakfast with the VillageTech team in Kathmandu.

 

Water Engineering & Training Center: Bhola Paudyal gave us a fascinating tour of the chemical processing machinery that provide precise readings on concentrations of arsenic, phosphate, and iron – the chemicals we are most concerned about. He also walked us through the water collection process and supplied us with 250 mg bottles for us to use during our trip to Nawalparasi. When we return in a week, we will bring water samples in these bottles for him to test.

Chemical testing equipment.
Chemical testing equipment.

 

Nepal Health Research Center (NHRC): Dr. Krishna Aryal gave us advice on critical challenges we might face in implementing the arsenic removal system, such as costs, education, and trust. He recommended that we come up with innovative ways to market the device and spread awareness of arsenic contamination, such as distributing simple, hand-held fans with educational pictures. He also provided us with several helpful governmental and non-governmental contacts.

 

Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH): Santosh Basnet shared his thoughts on potential strategies to manufacture the device, advising that we center in Nepal rather than India because of lower tariffs and logistical complexity. He also shared a list of organizations for us to contact for help with distribution.

 

In our spare time, Adi, Chad, and I have had a jolly time wandering the streets of Thamel to bargain for yak wool scarves, traditional hats, embellished daggers, singing bowls, and other beautiful and exotic souvenirs. We’ve gorged upon a delicious array of Nepali dishes – Adi and Chad have consumed more chicken momos (dumplings) than there are chickens in Nepal. We also got to see Catching Fire in theaters, which was such a hoot.

Chad and Adi exploring the streets of Tamel.
Chad and Adi exploring the streets of Thamel.

 

Adi and Chad left for Nawalparasi today to begin surveying local residents, collecting water samples, and documenting the impact of arsenic. Unfortunately, I got a rather unpleasant case of food poisoning, so I must wait to join them in a few days. Besides that minor hiccup, though, the trip is off to a highly informative and productive start! We’ll update again from Nawalparasi. Until then, peace!

 

 

Huancano Yachaywasi

Huancano Yachaywasi
Huancano Yachaywasi

 

For the past four days, our team has stayed at the lovely Huancano Yachaywasi. This eco-technology demonstration center developed by ProSynergy is three hours southwest of Lima, near Pisco, Peru. It is home to about 50 different agricultural and energy technologies, ranging from a hydraulic ram pump and aquaponic greenhouse to wind and solar energy devices. The Yachaywasi also has livestock and agricultural fields for production. The four well-furnished bungalows lining the outer wall of the Yachaywasi can host four overnight guests each.

Huancano Yachaywasi
Huancano Yachaywasi

 

Most days groups of 15-20 leaders from surrounding communities visit the Huancano Yachaywasi for a tour and demonstration of the technologies. As ProSynergy’s director Carlos likes to explain, the Yachaywasi is a place for people to dream. Here they are exposed to a variety of different ideas for economical, social, technological, and environmental development. Should they be interested in purchasing and installing one or more of the technologies, the Yachachiq (teacher in Quechua) can assist them in creating a family development plan or business plan and applying for a microfinance loan.
 
Our team assessed the potential for installing a hydropower site for demonstration. Across the street from the Yachaywasi, there is a man-made dirt channel running along the hillside. If DHE were to construct a hydropower site in Huancano, we would divert a portion of the flow from this channel into a settling tank at the top of hill before sending the water through the penstock to the kiosk at the bottom of the hill. However, one area of concern is that there is not a consistent flow rate in the channel. The municipality artificially creates periods of low and high flow in an eight-day cycle as part of an effort to conserve water. In our next blog post, we’ll dive into more specifics of our site surveying techniques.

Kevin, Alison, and Will scope out a potential site for the hydropower kiosk at the Huancano Yachaywasi.
Kevin, Alison, and Will scope out a potential site for the hydropower kiosk at the Huancano Yachaywasi.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Huancano. The food and hospitality has been incredible – a big shout out to our new friends Henry and Giovanny! We savored the taste of the fruits and vegetables grown at the Yachaywasi. Our stay would not have been complete without playing a game of pick-up soccer and befriending the guard dogs.

We appreciated Henry’s hospitality and Giovanny’s delicious food.
We appreciated Henry’s hospitality and Giovanny’s delicious food.

 

One of Giovanny’s delicious meals!
One of Giovanny’s delicious meals!

Now we will have a brief stop in Lima before visiting the second Yachaywasi in Pilpichaca.

 

 

Greetings from Peru!

Greetings from Peru!

Our team arrived in Lima, Peru on Monday evening, and we have been off to a running start. Thus far we have met with four organizations: Practical Action, Turbinas 3HC, Grupo PUCP, and ProSynergy.

A nice view of the Lima coastline
A nice view of the Lima coastline

Practical Action (Soluciones Practicas) is a UK-based international NGO which aims to reduce poverty by improving access to technical systems and knowledge. Rafael Escobar, the manager of their energy projects, introduced us to their work in wind, solar, biomass, and hydro renewable energy technologies. Practical Action has implemented 62 micro-hydro sites ranging in size from 0.5 to 200 kW in Peru. Although the majority of their sites are larger than DHE’s scale, it was informative to learn about their approach to training local site operators and financing projects.

Turbinas 3HC is a local company which manufactures cross-flow and Pelton turbines. Engineer Eusebio Castromonte offered a unique perspective on the major players and incentives for promoting micro-hydropower in Peru due to his experience as both an entrepreneur and a former NGO project manager. If DHE installs a hydropower site in Peru, we may consider purchasing a custom turbine from Turbinas 3HC since a locally-fabricated turbine can be most easily maintained and repaired.

Additionally, we met with Grupo de Apoyo Al Sector Royal at Pontficia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Miguel Hadzich leads this research and implementation group which has developed an impressive array of appropriate technologies for the rural Peruvian population. Enrique Mejia gave us a tour of their technology demonstration center, highlighting hydro technologies including a ramp pump and seesaw and pedal-powered pumps. This tour sparked creative ideas as to how DHE might demonstrate the means of producing electricity via hydropower at ProSynergy’s Yachaywasis. We also started to brainstorm ways we might showcase and prototype our technologies closer to home.

Kevin and Will hard at work pumping water
Kevin and Will hard at work pumping water

Lastly, we met with ProSynergy, the corporate social responsibility arm of SK Innovation. Carlos Guarnizo introduced Pro-Synergy’s two Yachaywasi or eco-technology parks. The Yachaywasis have a social enterprise approach; they introduce local people to a variety of technologies, assist them in constructing a family development plan and business model, and help them to finance such projects via micro-finance. Over 50 appropriate technologies have been installed in each of ProSynergy’s Yachaywasis in Huancano and Pilpichaca. DHE will be spending a week at these two Yachaywasis to assess the potential for installing a hydropower system for demonstration at one of these sites.

At the ProSynergy offices in Lima
At the ProSynergy offices in Lima

We are extremely grateful for the warm Peruvian hospitality we have received our first few days! Now off to Huancano – hasta luego!

Off to Peru!

Tomorrow afternoon, four DHE students will be departing for Peru to assess two potential Hydropower sites, as well as to meet with three possible partners. The trip will last until the 19th of December and is meant to be the club’s introduction to Peru. We will be blogging while in country, and after  – to follow us, please stay tuned to dhedartmouth.org.

Embarking on the trip will be DHE’s current president, Julie Ann, its president emeritus, Alison, the hydropower project’s Assistant Project Leader, Will Hickman, and myself. Combined, we have around 12 years of experience working with DHE, attempting to use sustainable technologies to improve the lives of people living in developing countries.

On the trip, the team hopes to accomplish a few objectives. First and foremost, we will be surveying two potential hydro sites for a possible implementation in the summer of 2015. These two sites, located at Yachaywasis (or technology farms) run by ProSynergy, are the focus of our trip to Peru. We hope to determine the physical feasibility of implementation at these sites, as well as the outline for what an agreement between ProSynergy and DHE may look like moving forward. We’ve been working closely with the director of Prosynergy in Peru, Carlos Guarnizo, to organize this trip and lay out our partnership moving forward.

We also plan to meet with other, like-minded groups during our time in Peru to both learn from them and explore possible partnerships that we may be able to form moving forward. Examples of the partners that we will be meeting with include Practical Action, and PUCP Grupo.

We’ll be updating this blog every week or so moving forward, so please stay tuned for more!