Okhle Village Trust was first invited to Raipali village to look at their water situation in 2005. Raipali lies in a cluster of small villages in the Mahabharat Hills of Nepal, north west of the capital Kathmandu. The village is spread across terraced hillside that the villagers farm but their source of water lies in a narrow overgrown reentrant in the hillside, from which two springs surface at different elevations. The upper spring provides the more plentiful water supply although during the dry season the upper spring can run low, in which case water must be fetched from the lower spring.
The upper spring at Rapali lies ninety vertical metres below the top houses in the village and the lower spring nearer one hundred vertical metres. The round trip to collect a supply of 15-25 litres of water takes up to an hour for some households, along a steep, uneven path. Men, women and children all assist in carrying out the arduous trek to fetch water, which is extremely hard on their bodies.In 2006 Okhle Village Trust part funded the construction of a 20,000 litre tank by the upper spring to provide a buffer of water for use in the dry season when the spring ran low. This was successful in negating the need for the villagers use the lower spring during the following dry season. However, the majority of the arduous trek to fetch water still remained. The only solution being to pump the water up the hill until it was in or above the village for local collection or gravity feed to where it was needed.
With no electricity in the village, the most feasible option was a manually powered hand pump. A hydroram pump (which uses the kinetic energy of the flowing water to pump a proportion of the water uphill) was discounted as there was insufficient flow from the spring for the proportion of pumped water to provide for the village’s needs. Following design work for the project throughout 2006 the HOP5 mono progressive cavity design pump supplied by Orbit was selected as one of the few hand pumps able to pump to the required height.In November 2007 a group from Okhle Village Trust went to Nepal and worked with the villagers to prepare the infrastructure ready for the pump. This consisted of taking a feed pipe from the tank into a 6” tube (the pump housing), in which the borehole pump would sit. The tube was mounted on a concrete plinth and a further plinth was cast at the top of the tube on which people would stand to pump. The water was to be fed from the pump to a further water storage tank at a height of 70m above the top spring. Pumping the water to this height meant that some of the villagers would still have to come down up to 20 vertical metres to collect their water. However, this was the compromise reached between the manual pumping effort required and the proportion of the population who lived above the site of the top tank.
The pipe route from the spring to the top tank was made as direct as possible to reduce the pipe friction. This involved taking a direct line up the thickly vegetated reentrant. With the aid of GPS and many expertly wielded khukuri machetes, the line of the pipe route was cleared. By the end of the Okhle Village Trust expedition in 2007, the top plinth had been cast with the pump housing in situ.A further group led by Okhle Village Trust journeyed to Nepal in 2008 with graduate engineers from Bristol and Durham universities. By this time the pump had arrived in Raipali village and was ready for installation. The group constructed a valve chamber next to the pump and trenched in the rising main pipe from the spring up to the top tank. A vast cavity was excavated into the side of one of the farmed terraces for the top tank in order to keep the tank cool. The pump was installed and put into service.
In 2010 electricity was brought to Raipali village from a large hydroelectric power station in the main valley as part of a Nepalese government rural electrification programme. Although the hand pump was fully operational, the effort of hand pumping water a vertical height of 70m was still extremely demanding. This was the design compromise between making pumping physically easier and supplying enough water for the needs of the village. The villagers decided that they would like to switch to an electric pump.
After further design work by Okhle Village Trust, a Pedrollo electric water pump was selected and procured.During an Okhle Village Trust expedition in November 2011, an electrical cabinet was constructed from local materials to house an electrical meter, circuit breaker, residual current device and voltage controller. The electrical components were wired up, the pump installed and all that remained at the end of 2011 was for the local electricity board to provide the power connection to the transformer in the village which lay 300m distant.
2012 saw the commissioning and first operation of the Pedrollo electric water pump providing water to the top tank in Raipali from which a gravity fed distribution system brings water to 4 tapstands in the village. The provision of water has been so successful that the villagers of Raipali are now consideringthe benefit of constructing a further upper storage tank to provide water for irrigation.
On average, Raipali village uses 22,000 litres of water every 3 to 4 days which empties their current storage tank. Power is not continually available and during periods of the year the spring runs low as rain is infrequent. In order to provide the village with water over a longer period without power or rain the villagers of Raipali would like to construct another larger water storage tank of 30,000 litre capacity. This would give the villagers an extra 6 to 7 days supply during dry periods and enable them to collect water from their local tapstand even in periods with no power.
The villagers pay 600 Rupees a month for the electricity used by the pump and the cost of an extra storage tank would be in the region of £1200.
In December 2013, Wey Valley school also camped at Raipali and together with the villagers began to dig out the foundations for the tank. The project will be jointly funded by Wey Valley school and the Trust.