In May 18th two important events happened in Bhimphedi: the presentation of Awasuka’s Awareness Song “Block, Wood or Stone” in Bhimphedi – conducted by Monica Sans, Nirmal Lama (Bhimphedi Guys) and Hareram Pudassaini – and the start of chimney-hood construction by Bhume Lama – a chimney expert trained by Practical Action Nepal. Awasuka Program’s goal of fostering “Safe Houses” was fully represented that day: on one hand, by transferring earthquake-resistant knowledge through the video and on the other, by fostering safe and healthy kitchens through hood construction.
In the last leg of the program which is carried out jointly by Amics del Nepal, base-A, CCD-UPC University and Rotary Club of Kantipur, Awasuka has joined hands with Practical Action Kathmandu and MRC Hetauda, to be able to deliver Practical Action’s chimney design. The later has already been tested in Nepal for 10 years and consists of, not only a chimney hood that sends 90% of the smoke out, but also an improved cooking-stove which provides protection from the flames and saves 40% firewood.
However, the chimney-hood construction did not start immediately, it required some previous important works. Two months before May 18th, Hareram and Monika were working on the Chimney-Hood awareness materials, having meetings with the involved parts and preparing information adapted to the village environment. In their quest of local information they spoke with the important organizations in the village like: the Hospital, the Schools, the Gaupalika, the Police headquarters and the Cooperatives. Thanks to the later ones, the awareness meetings could be organized within the whole municipality. It took over month of daily meetings to inform all the different scattered rural areas from Bhimphedi former VDC. The rest of the municipality areas (Kogate, Ipa, Niwubatar and Bhainse) were done later.
All these sessions were conducted by Hareram Pudasaini, Awasuka’s manager and social mobilizer and who had been using a chimney-hood in his home, built by Awasuka two years earlier. In the awareness meetings he explained his own experience, he showed some cardboards with the printed presentation and displayed a video of himself interviewing his family members, talking about the benefits of the chimney-hood and the improved cooking stove. The audience reacted very positively to this kind of presentation, as it was visually attractive and extremely trustable because the person who was delivering information was a local like them, and had already tried what they saw like a “strange invention”.
The outcome of all these awareness meetings conducted in one month was a list of 120 house-owners interested in chimney construction. Word of mouth and additional awareness sessions did the rest and this number was gradually increased: first up to 190 families, later up to 245 families and finally up to 300 households. This means that 300 families will see their health significantly improved because they will no longer have to breathe the smoke produced by firewood, especially women. Each family living in a rural area of Nepal spends an average of five hours per day in the kitchen, inhaling toxic gases produced by cooking food.
The start of the chimney-hood installation process was prioritized to the poorest areas of Bhimphedi: Kitbanjang, Kitbanjang, Urlagari and Kaphalchaur. These are mostly Chepang communities which do not own any lands and thus lacking property papers; this is the reason why they couldn’t apply for the government subsidy to improve their homes after the earthquake. Thence Awasuka Program decided to fill this gap and provide them an opportunity to improve their households with chimney-hoods, so they can achieve safer and healthier kitchens. Besides these first communities, chimneys have also been completed in all the rest of Bhimphedi neighboring communities, as well as in other two larger areas of Bhimphedi Municipality: Kogate and Niwubatar. For a better visualization of the intervened areas, the program is preparing a map with all the beneficiaries’ house-locations, which will be published soon.
Within the open-minded families that registered for chimney installation, once this one was finished, Awasuka also conducted some surveys about water-borne diseases. Results showed that many people are suffering too often from: gastric problems, diarrhea and typhoid fever. Thereupon it was decided to do awareness sessions on water treatment and to perform some water tests. The awareness material consists on a presentation following Water Paani song’s verses, bridge and chorus. Each part of the song contains a different message related to water, which is easily and entertainingly understood thanks to music and images. Once the awareness sessions are finalized, some chlorine bottles are distributed amongst the interested families. Currently around 125 bottles of chlorine have already distributed, and we are on the way to reach the 300 total families.
Next we leave you with some images of the material that has been used in the chimney and water awareness sessions, which has worked out in an excellent way, as well as some pictures of the completed chimneys and the chlorine distribution.