Nepal is well-known for its natural beauty and colourful culture. Some of the most iconic images of the country include mountain villages and rice paddies landscapes. However life is hard for its inhabitants, most of whom live in rural areas and heavily rely on agriculture.
In September 2014 I visited Nepal, where I organised a series of focus groups on behalf of SciDev.Net around science and technology for development with local senior professionals from the following sectors: policy, private, media, development, academic and research. I also conducted some field work and it became evident that Nepal, much like other developing and least developed countries, is still to make the most of science and technology (S&T) developments, particularly women. S&T innovations are strongly needed for productive and household-related activities.
Women tend to bear the load of some basic yet time-consuming tasks, however these can be made more effective if people benefited more widely from S&T innovations that are otherwise a common sight in the developed world; allowing them to focus on more productive activities. For example in Nepal it is common to see women washing the family clothes by hand. Yet people like Hans Rosling talk about the washing machine as the greatest invention of the industrial revolution which a lot of women are yet to benefit from in the developing world.
Another example relates to the fact that most people in Nepal have to fetch water for their daily consumption, women often being responsible for such activity. Therefore increasing access to water within household units represents an important development opportunity with strong gender implications.
Other areas of opportunity for S&T to have a development impact is demonstrated in the below photo, where a woman is seen drying her produce under the sun, then siting for hours manually extracting the soya beans by hitting the dried branches against the ground. Small-scale innovations for agricultural activities are urgently needed in order to increase efficiency and to add value.
One of the main challenges in increasing use of S&T, particularly in rural and remote parts of the country, relates to increasing awareness of available innovations and enabling access to practical and technical advice to tackle context-relevant issues. In the next photo gallery blog I present insights from my field visit in Nepal, where I investigated the work some NGOs are doing to actively support communities around the country interested in organising to create and run libraries in order to access practical and technical advice.