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Moving forward amidst COVID-19: Helping communities adapt

The ongoing pandemic has caused a lot of countries, including Nepal to go under self-isolation and lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. With the cases of COVID-19 patients increasing everyday, concerns of a public health crisis have increased and hence, the government has imposed even more strict regulations limiting the movement of people and economic activities. Besides adverse impacts on the economy, the ongoing lockdown has induced the demand for critical institutions such as hospitals and has made livelihood difficult for people living on paycheck to paycheck. Currently, Gham Power recognizes that people are facing a lot more hindrance in their day to day life due to the outbreak of coronavirus and has been doing its best to help their consumers, in as many ways as possible.

 

Facilitating health sector

Gham Power has also been actively working in the urban sectors and responding to hospitals that have become critical institutions during recent times. A lot of hospitals are trying to expand their isolation wards as the number of people being exposed to the virus is rapidly increasing. In this time, hospitals are redirecting a lot of their resources towards taking care of patients impacted by the virus. If hospitals switch to using solar energy even just during the day, they can use the electricity generated more precisely, distributing it to their emergency building, child ward building, or as per their own requirement. Chitwan Medical College Teaching Hospital (CMCTH) had an energy consumption of 1.6 million kWh per year and used to spend 34 million rupees annually, but after installing solar panels with the help of Gham Power, it has been predicted that the consumption of electricity will be reduced by 23% annually and CMCTH will save approximately  57 million rupees in 15 years. This sum of money can be directed towards providing better facilities in the hospital and helping them cope with situations like these better. Alongside CMCTH we are also providing similar facilities to Teaching Hospital located in Maharajgunj, Kathmandu that is serving a lot of COVID-19 patients around Kathmandu valley.

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Image: Solar Panels at Chitwan Medical College Teaching Hospital

 

Guiding farmers to be self-sufficient 

One of the main focuses of Gham Power has been providing assistance to farmers with solar water pumps and beyond. We continue to support farmers even after the installation process, and even during the lockdown, our smart meters have been collecting real-time agricultural metrics from smallholder farmers, helping us send personalized agri-advisory through SMSs. These agri-advisory SMSs are not only limited to irrigation scheduling, but also include information that farmers may face in the foreseeable future. Recently, we sent out SMSs to farmers cautioning them about the probable locust attack at their locations, its preventive measures, and ways to protect the seedbeds of paddy and vegetables. Since the ongoing pandemic has made it even more difficult for farmers to obtain fish feeds and fertilizers, we have been providing information to farmers about alternative homemade sources of fertilizers and fish feed as a replacement for chemical ones. These personalized agri-advisory SMSs encompass ways farmers could produce fertilizers and fish feed using grain sources available at their home. Kali Prasad Tiwari is one of the many farmers that we are assisting through our agri-advisory SMS service. Mr. Tiwari bought nutrient sources to grow phytoplanktons in his fish pond, a natural source of food for the fishes and our team at Gham Power are helping him by providing the necessary information, the dosage, and specifications of applying it. Mr. Tiwari is one of the few customers that voluntarily calls our agri-team seeking potential advice making him a great example of a customer that reaps the benefits of the services that Gham Power has been providing.

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Image: Personalized agri-advisory SMSs sent to farmers

 

Connecting Farmers to potential buyers

In addition to agri-advisory services, Gham Power has observed that the pandemic caused a lot of disturbance in the market which is causing farmers to bear all the losses. A recent research that we conducted on “The Probable Problems Created in Agri-supply Chain” concluded that our end-users are struggling to get required agri-inputs as well as sell their products in the market at a fair price. In order to enable our producers for easy access to the market, we get periodic updates about the production status, and to reduce the loss of farmers as much as possible, Gham Power has been connecting our farmers to potential buyers. Umesh Kumar Shah is an impeccable example of our efforts resulting in success. Mr. Shah is a fish farmer in Bara, Nepal and he had been experiencing bad trade due to the restrictions on economic activities. So, we connected him with a potential buyer and he managed to sell 10 tonnes of fish. In this time of chaos, we are also actively upgrading our agriculture smart meter called ‘Gham Power Krishi Meter’ and are currently testing different sensors on it. Our goal is to help farmers cope with the problems and for them to be self-sufficient.

 

Making access to drinking water easier in rural communities

Alongside supporting the agricultural sector of the country, Gham Power has also been helping the rural communities in various other ways. We have successfully managed to install more than 25 solar water pumps in rural areas, making access to drinking water easy. All these projects, individually, help at the minimum 50 households gain access to drinking water. In Myagdi alone, 300 households now have access to drinking water, followed by 250 households in Rolpa and 150 households in Tanahun. The most recent solar system was installed in Rolpa, which is one of the 5 drinking water projects we completed during this lockdown. A lot of people in rural areas do not have access to drinking water thus forcing them to commute for almost three hours to get water. This is not only troublesome but extremely dangerous, especially considering the state of the coronavirus in Nepal. With easy access to drinking water, the time spent on the commute can be used for something productive, and the chances of people contracting the virus and spreading it among their community members decline.

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Image: Solar water pump – Source of drinking water in rural areas

Continuing our efforts

COVID-19 has affected everyone to a certain extent, from large scale institutions to people living on daily wages. Now more than ever, healthcare institutions and especially rural farmers need our help in coping with some of the dire challenges that this unprecedented period has brought about. Although it is uncertain how and when the world will get back to normal, we will continue our efforts to aid and uplift these communities and institutions to the best of our abilities. With our innovative solutions, we hope to enable our end-customers to achieve, aspire, and thrive to the fullest of their capabilities despite the pandemic.