Story telling: Timal

Timal Field Visit, June 2017
A team of CRT/N and NACEUN headed towards Thulo Parsel, Timal on 15 Jun, 2017. This village lies in Kavre one of the working sites of WEE Nepal Project led by Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal. The objective of the visit was to conduct awareness about sustainable energy and gender among the rural community electricity consumer group, students and teachers. It took almost 6 hours to reach the village from Kathmandu.

The field visit was also accompanied by the senior actor Ms Laxmi Giri. Ms Giri is an actress and has worked in more than 100 films. She started her career in acting through stage drama later she got an opportunity to act in TV serial and then she made her breakthrough in Nepali movie. She is one of the celebrity icons for the Advocacy Project: Energy: Empowering Women Uplifting Lives. Her popularity encouraged us to work with her to make our awareness programme more effective and fun.
Mr Dilli Ghimire presenting at school

It was a great experience, full of excitement and a learning opportunity especially as it was a first field visit for me.

Mr Salam Singh Tamang, newly elected president of Timal Village Council received us at the bus stop in Timal. He is a very active person with a good knowledge of energy, gender, development and politics. He has been involved in development of Timal since a very long time. We were surprised by seeing drinking water tape and electricity in the village even though the village was very remote- at the very top of hill with scattered settlement. We stayed there at Mr Tamang’s residence and had dinner together. During the dinner we talked a lot about the new political scenario and the ways to deal with them. Mr Tamang shared a lot about the villagers: problems of water scarcity after the earth quake and youths leaving the village to go abroad in search of jobs.

Our team discussed with Mr Salam on increasing access to local energy resources for women and support for effective use of the annual gender budget allocated by the government. Meeting with Mr Salam Singh Tamang was another opportunity, teaching me the importance of building rapport with local key persons for  in-depth understanding of the local tradition, culture, issues, needs, leading to successful collaboration, all of which are essential ingredients for a successfully advocating the gender and energy agenda at the local level.

School Level Awareness
On the next day morning of 23rd June 2017,  Mr Salam Singh Tamang led the CRTN and NECEUN Team  to Shree Panchakanya Secondary School, Thulo Parsel-5, Kavre. Here the principal of the school Mr Bhim Bahadur Lama together with other teachers organized a  introduction session as well as discussed on the purpose of our visit.  The students of class 8, 9 and 10, all the teachers of school were gathered in the big hall of the school where the Advocacy Team conducted the school level awareness session.  The students were seemed very enthusiastic seeing new people and specially the movie star Ms laxmi Giri.

Mr Salam Singh Tamang delivering speech at school
Mr Bhim Bahadur, the principal of the school commenced the session with welcome speech. Mr Mohan Pandey, NACEUN shared information about importance of renewable energy (RE) and its type and displayed a video related with RE. Mr Dilli Ghimire shared on the roles of youth in efficient and productive uses of renewable energy, opportunities in renewal energy. Dr Indira Shakya, CRT/N presented the importance of renewable energy technologies in the Nepalese context; Impacts of energy on gender and sustainable development- using posters and flipcharts. During the session Ms Laxmi Giri sat among the students dressed as an elderly village student and raised questions encouraging the students to follow path. Her questions were put forth in a way which makes other students to be clear on the topic. Ms Laxmi asked the question in dramatic manner- Sir, what is energy? Sir, why we need it? Sir, how do the traditional cooking practices affect our health? etc. Her dramatic way of asking question helped to grab the attention of student towards the subject matter and helped students to re-clarify on the topic. Her drama also created fun environment for students to learn the subject in a fun environment.  All the participants including me enjoyed the session.

Ms Laxmi Giri among students

Perception of the students and teachers on the Awareness Program
The visit to Timal provided me an opportunity to engage with the students from the schools participating in the school awareness program. After the Awareness session conducted for classes 7-9 at Shree Panchakanya Secondary School, Thulo Parsel-5, Kavre, I interacted with few students. Most of them shared with me about the water problem in the village after the earth quake. They also enlightened me about the cooking practices in the village. According to them most of the villagers use traditional stove. . They depend largely on the nearby forests for their fuel. So far they had no complains about the neither distance nor availability of fuelwood. I guess that was because they themselves were involved in the collection and use of this fuel source. Having learnt about the implication of fuel wood use the students were enthusiastic and informed that they will convince their parents and neighbors to use improved ICS which have multiple advantages.

While talking with teachers they said that the programme was quite effective- mainly the posters and video displayed during the session made students to understand clearly on the importance and kinds of energy. The teachers themselves were found interested in carrying on the knowledge beyond the class room to the community as well. In case of teaching the subject they informed about the lack of references and materials for teaching. In my view this is an issue of concern and we need to address it in the best way we can if this students and teachers are to be deployed as medium for advocating for cleaner energy use at the local level.

Mass Awareness Programme
The mass awareness programme conducted at the open ground of Youth Club of Timal was an interesting experience for me. Most of the participants were elderly persons mainly men. , Their response to my queries on why women and other youth boys and girls are not participating surprised me. According to them most of youth had left the village for nearby cities or abroad for the education and employment. Thus only elderly people remained there. Regarding the low participation of women, they said the women have no time for such discussions and are busy with domestic work.

Women trying to understand about ICS by looking at posters

The villagers were found knowledgeable about the ICS and its benefits and also have used it many years ago. However they do not give continuity to ICS. They said the reason behind not continuing ICS was lack of technical person for the maintenance and replacement once the ICS is damaged.  

Toward the later part of the program, few women came to participate. I asked them the reason for the delay; they said they were unable to participate in time because they were in the forest for collecting wood to cook food for family and for animals. This is their daily routine. In the Timal it is only the responsibility of women to go to collect wood and cook food.

Out of the four participating women I managed to interacted with Ms Maili Tamang and Ms Saili Tamang, Mother and daughter. They told me about the difficulties in collecting fuelwood and using it, they said most women list it as a principal drudgery. Both claimed that they wanted to be free from this drudgery but “how” was their question.

I found the male participants were lacking knowledge on gender aspect of energy. One of the male participants said that all the household activity is the responsibility of women and they have been responsible for it from the past so they do not see any problem with it. Another man even went to the extent of saying”if one woman, wife dies, due to such drudgery, man will marry another woman”.

Mr Biku Lal Tamang, President of Timal VDC, ward no. 6 expressed the need of community level technical trainings- for the maintenance and awareness programs. According to him 800 bio-gas plant were planted, 690 ICS were fitted in all the 15 VDC of Timal but now not even  50% of them are in operation.

Mr Salam Singh Tamag, president of Timal Village Council’s in his closing comment made a commitment to promote energy based entrepreneurship, energy based trainings to empower women, focus on programs for women’s welfare with appropriate allocation of budget for the women empowerment. He also committed that he will write himself an official letter to higher authorities for this. Mr Tamang also committed to replace the entire older wooden electric poles with new irons pole within 5 years in all of Timal VDC for safety and longevity of the electricity infrastructure.  

This observation transcribes to be a few lessons:

  •      the importance of coordination at different levels
  •     concerted efforts at educating concerned local bodies are important elements of any intervention 
  •   educating the men for women to accrue benefits of any intervention concerning energy
  •     the need for after sales/installation services existence closer to the users



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