Kot Guan lies in a cluster of small villages in the Mahabharat Hills of Nepal, north east of the capital Kathmandu. Centred on a small level plateau near the ridge line of the valley, the village extends down the steep terraced hillside that the villagers farm. Historically, the villagers of Kot Guan have had a choice of two natural springs from which to draw their water neither of which are easily accessible. One spring lies up to 100m vertically below the village for the highest houses and is shared with another village; the second lies approximately 800m from the village 40 vertical metres up and over a col on the north side of the ridge. Depending on the location of their houses, the villagers use both springs to draw their water. Whichever spring they use, the round trip to collect 15-25 litres of water involves a steep descent and ascent and takes around an hour.
As the lower spring is shared it would not have been socially acceptable to the other community to install any kind of pump as this could lead to difficult situations should the water levels run low.It was therefore preferable to bring water to Kot Guan from the higher spring on the north side of the ridge line. The north side of the col from Kot Guan is treacherously steep and in many places it is not possible for two people to pass on the narrow path contouring the slope. Being on the north side of the ridge the sun does not shine on this slope and the stones are frequently wet making working and transporting any equipment difficult.
A group from Okhle Village Trust looked at the potential of installing an electrical pump at the higher spring in 2007 and running a pipe to a large storage tank above Kot Guan from which the water could be gravity fed to tapstands in the village. At this stage the vegetation around the spring was cut back, a small water collecting pool formed in the rock face and a pipe inserted to gauge the water flow rate. At the time (November – mid dry season) the spring was yielding approximately two litres per minute of clear water. In 2008, Okhle Village Trust was supported by two engineers from Gifford Ltd. who carried out detailed survey of Kot Guan and the pipe route from the higher spring to the village. This survey yielded the necessary information for Okhle Village Trust to design the water supply system.It was not until 2010, when electricity from a hydroelectric power station in the valley was supplied to Kot Guan, that Okhle Village Trust had the necessary financial resources to realise the project.
The outline design of the water supply system was to install a 2000L plastic tank at the spring to collect water, avoiding the need to carry construction materials around the difficult path to the spring. A submersible pump installed in the tank with a float switch would then pump the water 400m along and up 40 vertical metres to the col where either a breather tank or an air release valve would be used to release air from the system. A further 400m length of pipe descending just under 40 vertical metres would take the water down to a 20,000 litre tank above the village. A further distribution system would then spread down the hillside, serving the village centre and outlying houses with a total of 4 tap stands.
In 2011 a group from Okhle Village Trust including students from Wey Valley School and SportsCollege and a water engineer went to Nepal to begin construction of the water supply system at Kot Guan. There is no vehicular access to Kot Guan and hence all materials had to be carried the final kilometre to the village on foot. Whilst the group were working with the villagers at Kot Guan the 800m of trench required for the pipe and electrical cable from the village to the pump was started, the loose material around the spring was excavated to capture more water and the necessary materials for the project were sourced.
Much of this work was done on extremely steep and unstable slopes with trenching in some placed through solid rock. It required a huge effort from the villagers, especially at a time of year when they were also harvesting their crops. Whenever they were not employed on their farmland, the men, women and children of Kot Guan were on site helping with the water project, a humbling demonstration of its value to the community. As a gift to the local school children, the group from Wey Valley School and Sports College donated 70 blue school shirts to the children of Kot Guan.
Manual ground work continued for several months during early 2012 as the terrain would not permit the use of powered machinery, even if it were available. Okhle Village Trust employed a Nepalese electrical engineer on a part-time basis to oversee the ongoing construction of the project in 2012 and to install and commission the pump. Towards the end of 2012 the pump was commissioned and water was pumped for the first time into Kot Guan village.
The approximate cost of the Kot Guan water project was £5000.