After a long and thoughtful process the Friends of Nepal Board and Legacy Project Task Force selected our Legacy Project. Details below.
FRIENDS OF NEPAL WIRELESS PROJECT
A project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps
For centuries the country of Nepal has suffered from a lack of communication. The country’s isolation and challenging geography have often made it difficult for even neighboring villages to communicate effectively with each other.
In recent years telecommunication and internet penetration has greatly expanded with service providers concentrated mostly in urban and populated areas and mainly in the eastern and southern parts of the country. The northern and northwestern parts of Nepal continue to have few such services.
In 2002, at a time when there was little interest by the Nepal government and the private sector to bring information technology to the northwestern hill and mountain villages, a grass-root project was begun by a teacher of the Himanchal Higher Secondary School named Mahabir Pun. At its inception the project did not have a goal to become a rural Internet Service Provider. It started out from a desire to find a way to bring the Internet and telephone system to the school and small village of Nangi. Through a great deal of effort by this community, the Nepal Wireless Networking Project (NWNP) was born. In the last ten years the NWNP has built small-scale infrastructures using wireless technology to connect not only Nangi but over 100 other village communities to the Internet.
What makes the NWNP truly unique is the way it uses Internet access to address the many needs of village communities in terms of promoting their educational opportunities, health care, job creation, local e-commerce, and general communication both locally and abroad. The NWNP has begun a movement that leapfrogs the traditional constraints of isolated villages to creatively connect them to 21st century information and communication opportunities. www.itu.int/net/itunews/issues/2009/06/42.aspx
The Friends of Nepal Wireless Project has been created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps with FoN and the NWNP partnering in the following effort.
Our two nonprofit organizations will create a computer lab for a high school and a community information center both located in the central mountain village of Keshavtar. Before these two facilities can be made operational, a wireless networking link will have to be built from Keshavtar village to the Internet connection located in Pokhara some 30 miles distant. This connection requires the installation of dish antennas attached to tall trees, relay stations, solar collectors and network servers. In addition to Keshavtar, this project will also involve another mountain village known as Shikha. The objective will be to build a telemedicine center at an existing health post that will link with two hospitals in Pokhara and Kathmandu via network cameras. This will provide medical assistance to the villagers and also provide health training to the rural health workers through video- conferencing capabilities. In addition to the village of Shikha, this facility will benefit the health needs of villagers in the neighboring communities of Khibang, Swanta, Kindu, Dhosekhore, Paudwar, and Ghara.
What is so remarkable about these projects is that the entire effort will cost less than $18,000. FoN members and supporters have already raised $7,000 and the community of Keshavtar has raised $4,000 on its own. FoN is intent on raising the remaining $7,000 in the next several months in order that the project can be completed by December 31, 2011.
FoN looks forward to having a long relationship of support for the NWNP as it continues to expand the network to the hundreds of mountain villages eager to join this movement. In time, when the Peace Corps returns to Nepal, it will be welcomed into this partnership.