This photo gallery blog is the continuation of another one entitled “Science for development in Nepal?” where I argued 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, and that S&T innovations are strongly needed for productive and household-related activities.
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. That is why some NGOs such as Practical Answers (part of Practical Action in Nepal) and their implementing partners (READ Nepal) are actively supporting communities around the country interested in organising themselves to create and run libraries in order to access practical and technical advice. They told us that the current top priorities revolve around agriculture, livestock management and disaster risk reduction issues.
With the help of Bhuwan Adhikari, Programme Officer- Practical Answers – we were able to organise a field visit to one of the villages they work with as part of my the research project I conducted on behalf of SciDev.Net. Arcelia Ramos – the photographer for this project – and I visited a municipality called Panauti in the Kavre District where we heard how locals fundraised locally in order to open a new library in town: the Gyan Bikash Community Library and Resource Centre, where adults could come and log questions for experts. These are then shared on a monthly basis with Practical Action and a response with the appropriate print or video materials is provided as soon as possible.
The library also caters for children. There is a room with musical instruments so that children learn and play, a reading room and an IT centre with laptops where kids learn new IT skills and use their time more productively when not at school.
The community has a sustainability plan too, they opened a souvenir shop stocked with items made by locals and whose revenue goes to the library. Furthermore they plan to rent one of the library’s floors for events and they will also be opening a coffee shop on the terrace to ensure financial stability and further development of the library and the many services it offers to locals.
This seems to be a promising development intervention, one focused around self-sufficiency and sustainability. What was also interesting to hear is that the NGO partners not only log and answer technical questions but also make sure the appropriate government departments are aware of the informational needs of the municipality, with the aim to create a future direct relationship between government advisors and locals.