In the immediate aftermath of the April earthquake, information technology played a crucial role in disseminating information, mapping affected areas and helping coordinate relief efforts. StoryCycle’s ‘Impact Stories’ is one such digital initiative that highlight stories and data from earthquake affected areas to direct support for projects and enable rebuilding. “Technology on its own does not work, it is the emotional connection you create through it that will help in the rebuilding process,” says Saurav Dhakal of StoryCycle.
Highlighting villages like Barpak, Rautatar and Thame, users can start their own campaign by creating a profile for a village and listing funding needed. StoryCycle has also started ‘BuildCamp’ in which the building process of an area is facilitated by a mixed group of architects, engineers and storytellers who contribute their expertise to design the ideal community.
The first BuildCamp in Barpak involved community leader Bir Bahadur Ghale and documented stories with community mapping which increased the town’s digital footprint. Also helping out in Barpak is Nepal’s rural internet maverick, Mahabir Pun, who is replicating his work in establishing wireless connectivity in Kaski and Myagdi in the earthquake affected districts of Gorkha and Lamjung. Eight schools and three health posts will be connected with up to six hotspots allowing classes to have e-learning and providing health posts access to tele-medicine.
“The connectivity allows villages to benefit from many services and does not require them to come all the way to the cities. The need to connect is not just after natural disasters, it has become an everyday necessity,” Pun told us. After receiving a grant of $80,000 from the Internet Society’s Wireless for Community Program (W4C), Pun was visiting Gorkha this week to establish internet connectivity and get communities involved in its long-term use and maintenance. Pun says: “Local communities need to be involved and committed to using the service, if no fees are paid to maintain the system it will be a waste of money.”
Gorkha’s wireless network will run on solar electricity from Gham Power and will be ready in a month. After Lamjung and Gorkha, Pun plans to expand the program to schools in Sindhupalchok and Kavre.
Nepali Times, 11 December 2015