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Nepali Students Help Ensure Quality of Life in the Kathmandu Valley

The Bagmati River is the principal river of the Bagmati River Basin in central Nepal. Fed by springs, monsoon rainfall and a number of tributaries, the river originates in the north of Kathmandu Valley and flows on to North India, where it empties into the Ganges. For centuries it has been celebrated in music, poetry and literature because of the importance it holds in the cultural traditions of the Nepali people. At present, however, the river is facing a number of serious environmental and ecological challenges affecting life along its banks. Rapid population growth, deforestation, soil erosion, and untreated waste water have led to dramatic deterioration of ecosystems within the Bagmati River basin.

On 28 January 2007, a pioneering effort was inaugurated to monitor Bagmati River water. CalledKathmandu Participatory River Monitoring(KAPRIMO), the project was initiated by theEnvironmental Camps for Conservation Awareness (ECCA), a leading Nepalese organization in the sector of social mobilization and community development. ECCA also serves as the GLOBE Nepal Country Coordinating agency. This initiative is the first of its kind in Nepal and will serve as a catalyst for basin-wide and nation-wide river monitoring and conservation planning and a model for water monitoring in all South Asia.

KAPRIMO is raising local awareness through the education of young people, and local youths are now playing an integral part in the water monitoring process. University students, taking measurements and carrying out lab analyses, are also meeting with students at school nature clubs to discuss the state of the rivers and the potential for students to become involved. Training has been conducted for local youths to learn and apply hydrology protocols, taking water samples at 40 sampling sites on the Bagmati and Bishnumati Rivers. Students are now regularly taking measurements of 20 parameters and plan to enter the data into both the KAPRIMO and GLOBE Web sites for use in their research projects.

From 26—27 August 2007, KAPRIMO hosted an international symposium, in partnership with Nepal's Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and organized by the Metropolitan City Offices of Kathmandu and Lalitpur. The symposium provided an opportunity for EU and Asian representatives to exchange their experiences, knowledge and opinions about long-term planning and management of water resources. Discussions focused on the following three subtopics:

  • linking environmental monitoring and urban planning;
  • potential improvement measures/ technologies for urban agglomerations and;
  • watershed management.

Participants also drafted plans for how to improve KAPRIMO and make it a sustainable program.

Following the symposium, a half day workshop was conducted to instruct participants on the organization of water pollution surveys. Overall, the symposium and workshop were a great success. Participants gained new knowledge about the issues, and tools for working collaboratively to address them. Congratulations to KAPRIMO and GLOBE Nepal participants for their sustained efforts in improving water quality in Nepal and for providing a model for implementation throughout the region.

27 November 2007