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Nepal Study Tour Report


On August 20-27, 2017, 11 undergraduate students took part in a study tour to Nepal as part of the Common Subjects, Practicum for Convivial Global Society.
In preparation for the tour, students attended a series of lectures on Nepal. Ms. Tomo Minami, a former Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer who now works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided an overview of the country, Ms. Mariko Shiohata, Director of the International Program at Save the Children Japan, spoke about education in Nepal, and Mr. Jigyan Kumar Thapa of the Kanagawa International Foundation addressed multicultural cooperation in Nepal. Students also furthered their understanding of Nepal by setting their own individual research topics, examining the available literature, and engaging in group studies on three themes: Social and Economic Development, Education, and Gender and Support for Post-Earthquake Reconstruction.

With students at Tribhuvan University

In Nepal, the group visited the capital Kathmandu and the rural districts of Kavre and Ramechhap. Our time in Kathmandu included visits to the Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC), the Asian Institute of Technology & Management (AITM), the Japanese Embassy, Tribhuvan University, the Shanti Volunteer Association, the Nepalese office of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Central Bureau of Statistics, and the Nepalese office of UNICEF. JICA staff showed us around Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital, where Japan has been assisting with earthquake recovery, and the former royal palace of Hanuman Dhoka. In Kavre and Ramechhap districts we visited AEPC sites and toured power generation facilities utilizing technologies including mini-hydro, solar, and biogas generation.

Visit to AEPC project in Ramechhap District

Rural districts in Nepal rely on traditional energy sources such as firewood and cow dung, and securing stable energy supply is a challenge. The steep mountainous terrain in Nepal also creates difficulties in deploying the government’s electricity grid throughout the country. Thus priority is placed on renewable energy including mini-hydro, solar, biogas, and wind power generation, which communities can manage themselves even in rural and mountainous districts.

AEPC staff told us about the multifaceted effects expected from introduction and widespread use of renewable energy. We were especially interested to learn that, in addition to providing access to electricity, these technologies improve the lives of local residents. When visiting a site in Kavre, it was explained to us that power generation facilities have led to mechanization of rice-milling and oil manufacture, reducing working hours for village women who had previously toiled all day on these tasks. Such facilities have also enabled people use devices such as TVs and mobile phones, and to process agricultural goods. Emphasizing the importance of maintenance and management of power generation facilities after they are handed over to communities, AEPC selects local residents to train as operators. Staff told us that this training lasts a month, and we felt that sound management systems were in place to ensure sustainability. Visiting actual sites gave us a good understanding of the social and economic impacts that renewable energy has on communities.

Every day of the study tour was packed with fresh experiences, and it was a really intensive eight-day program. Hearing the insights of Japanese staff working in Nepal and mixing with local students and villagers as we visited many facilities and organizations gave us a better understanding of Nepalese society and culture. Our learning did not stop at the end of the tour, and I hope that we will all put these valuable experiences to use in our future studies and activities.

Finally, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Mr. Aoki, Professor Hara, Ms. Komada, and all those who worked so hard to make this study tour a success, and to everyone who looked after us in Nepal.

(Ayu Horinouchi, 3rd year student, Information Sciences Course, Science)

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