Conservation & Development in Nepal
Life in GhandrukTrek Through the Annapurna Moun
I volunteered at the Himalayan Mountain Conservation
program sponsored by Projects Abroad this summer.
Based in a small village called Ghandruk, the program
aims to preserve and enhance natural resources along
with the communities within the Annapurna conservation
region. My personal objective initially was to work on
alternative energy projects with villagers and the
community. However, the monsoon conditions refocused
the program as a whole for the summer towards wildlife
and waste management. I adapted my objective to focus
on the development of Nepal in regards to technology
Each day in Ghandruk began at
sunrise and went until sundown. In
volunteers would typically hike
into the mountains to conduct
mammal surveys through camera
traps or go bird watching. The
afternoons were typically the rainy
portion of the day, so they were
reserved for gardening, village
cleanup, or leisure.
During the third week I spent in Ghandruk, I was
presented with the unique opportunity to accompany part
of the Nepalese Tourism Bureau on a trek to explore a
potential new trekking route for tourists. The journey
lasted a week and allowed me to experience the tourism
industry of Nepal first-hand.
As a result, I was able to
observe how the system
could be improved, what
developments have come
about recently, as well as
the connection between
the tourism industry and
the development of the
country as a whole.
Major Issues of Nepalese Development
Power is quite inconsistent. Outages are common and
often lengthy, which makes reliance on modern
technology impractical for most people.
Technological development is primarily focused on
consumer technology. Several villagers had iPhones
and mp3 players, but none had a modern stove,
washing machine, refrigerator, etc.
View of the mountains
while trekking; yak
farm; map of trekking
route; solar panel array
in Ghandruk; microhydrolectric plant next
door to my hotel.
Mechanisms for proper waste disposal are rare. Most
villagers burn their trash. In the cities, government
agencies process trash, although vast amounts of
littering and trash burning occur as well.
A shortage of wage-paying jobs combined with a trend
towards subsistence living leaves little disposable
income for families and individuals in Nepal.
In rural areas, the remote location makes transporting
materials nearly impossible and severely limits the
community’s access to the more urban areas. As a
whole, Nepal is geographically isolated as well.
The economies of many locations are based on
tourism, which discourages modernization in order to
preserve the “authentic” experience.
Although I enjoyed my time in Nepal immensely, this
coming summer I plan to participate in research in a more
traditional setting. However, I do hope that some day I can
connect the research element of chemistry with the
practical conservation applications I observed this
Special thanks to the James Graham Brown
Foundation, Centre College, ACAP and Projects