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New Biogas Program Improves Lives in Nepal

Life just got a little easier for some Nepalese villagers.

REI Adventures recently awarded a grant of $87,000 to Nepal SEEDS, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on improving social, educational and environmental development in the region. Their simple solution: biogas.

Keith Goldstein of Nepal SEEDSKeith Goldstein (right), president of Nepal SEEDS, tells the REI Blog about his personal experiences and the recent projects happening in the Nepali region near where REI Adventures’ Royal Trek trip operates:

"Visiting lowland villages in rural Nepal fills me with so many mixed emotions. Life seems idyllic with the simple, thatched-roof homes surrounded by the spectacular scenery of the world’s highest mountains, kids running and playing amid terraced fields of cabbage, rice and potatoes. At the same time, I see how hard life is for the Nepali subsistence farmer—the entire family spending much of their day struggling to make a living from a small plot of land that can grow just enough to feed the family; the wife schlepping large containers down to the stream numerous times each day to carry water back up the hill or having to chop down trees for fuel to cook food; sitting hunched over the fire, coughing and choking in a smoke-filled hut, waiting for the rice to cook.

"At Nepal SEEDS, we have been working with villagers since 1998 to develop ways to improve their lives. We discovered that simple solutions envisioned and implemented by the villagers can make a huge difference. Our first projects helped them design and build composting toilets—very simple stuff. No longer is there a need to relieve oneself in the vegetable patch. Instead, people could use the simply constructed composting toilet, keep the crops clean and generate clean, useful fertilizer. I still recall the Nepali man in his eighties thanking me with tears in his eyes for allowing him privacy for the first time in his life! And, boy did our donors respond! For every $200 donated for an outhouse, we will put your name on a plaque on the outhouse wall. Soon, you could be trekking through a village and find John’s John or Larry’s Loo...

"Now, with a generous grant from REI, Nepal SEEDS has expanded on the theme by introducing biogas systems to communities in the Nepali regions. We help the villagers build an underground collection tank next to the outhouse that is filled with human and animal waste and mixed with water to create methane gas. A simple line feeds the gas right into the home to be used as a heat source for cooking. View the video below and note the look of contentment on the Nepali gentleman’s face when he turns a valve and a flame appears beneath his cooking pot! His wife is even more thrilled. Previously, she would have been the person hauling firewood, coughing over the smoky fire and watching the soil of the surrounding hills wash downstream as a result of deforestation.

"It continues to amaze me to be able to see all of the accomplishments that stemmed straight from the villagers’ ideas. They knew what they wanted. They helped us design it. They built it with their own hands, and they will maintain it. With REI’s help, Nepal SEEDS has just given them a little jump-start."

For more information, see the REI Announces Green Energy Project Grant press release.

Below: K.P. Kafle, executive director of Nepal SEEDS.

Nepal SEEDS director K.P.

Posted on at 12:15 PM

Tagged: Nepal SEEDS, REI Adventures, Royal Trek, Travel, biogas, nepal and stewardship

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Satish Shrestha

Thanks REI for funding the project in Nepal.

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