Groundwater Arsenic Contamination

In May 2014, a team of researchers farsenicrom Yale University and the Nepal Study Center of the University of New Mexico designed a field research study to assess the impact of ground water arsenic in the two VDC of Nawalparasi and Rupandehi.

Funded by the Yale University’s Global Health Initiative, this pilot study examines health literacy, filter adaptation, and respiratory effects of arsenic contamination. With the help of the international partner and the host institution Pratiman-Neema Memorial Health Institute (PNMHI), the two principal investigators (pre-med students Dipika Gawande and Jenny Wu of the Yale University) carried out the field study. The other international collaborator was the Dhulikhel Hospital of Kathmandu University.

PNMHI assembled a diverse research team of undergraduate students, community program coordinators, health professionals, and public health experts for this survey study. It also held a focus group discussion involving municipality representatives and officials, policy makers, teachers, and locals to discuss policy prospects regarding the arsenic contamination issue in Nawalparasi. This research aims to find conclusions about filter adaptation and water policy related to arsenic exposure in the Terai.

Research Team Investigators:

Dipika Gawande and Jenny Wu (Yale University) Dr. Alok Bohara and Dr. Catherine Yeckel (mentors) Dr. Alok Bohara of the University of New Mexico and Dr. Catherine Yeckel of Yale University served as research mentors for Dipika and Jenny. The other research members are Soumi Chowdhury and Kristina Piorkowski of the University of New Mexico, both graduate students at the Department of Economics. Samita Giri (Dhulikhel Hospital), Dinesh Thapa (Dhulikhel Hospital), Tejaswi Bista (Trichandra College), and Mr. Arjun Paudel (PNMHI) served as research coordinator, field coordinator, personal coordinator, and the arsenic expert respectively. Mr. Dharma KC, Managing Director of PNMHI, helped manage the logistical arrangements for the visiting team from Yale.

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Public Preference for Improved Danda River Eco-systems

Variations in climate eco system and changes in land use patterns through urbanization are likely to have significant impacts on ecosystem structure, functions and dynamics as a whole.

Through our study, we seek to understand how the rapidly growing city of Bhairahawa in Nepal and its surrounding farm landscape will change in response to climate change and its effect on the surface and ground water conditions.A research team from the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Nepal Study Center (NSC) has just concluded its first phase of its field work about the socio-ecological study of the Siddharthanagar metropolitan area and its adjoining rural VDCs (Bagaha and Basantapur VDCs). There are three aspects to this study. First, the focus of this study is to examine the link between the household’s waste management practices, their environmental attitude, and the scientific knowledge about the quality of their drinking water source. Second, the team plans to test the possible link between water quality of the select household’s water sources and its potential link with the health status of the household. Third, the study uses choice experiment method to examine public’s preference and to estimate their willingness to pay regarding the conservation of the Danda River and its riparian corridor.

In addition to looking into Danda River management system, this study also considers various health and environmental issues in Bhairahawa household. For example some other issues we seek to tackle are regarding the determinants of water treatment behavior among residents in Bhairahawa; how risk perception and information intervention can change such water handling behaviors; and the relationship between environmental pollution and its impact on health and well-being among residents of Bhairahawa.

Results from the study will provide information that may help the policy maker in deciding how to address the urban pressure on the bio-diversity of the Danda River.Furthermore, the results from this study will provide valuable insights for an eco-park center idea that is under consideration. This proposed study will also help to advance and implement community level changes through developing multi-sector partnerships with residents, businesses, different academic institutions and local governments to recognize the importance of bio-conservation and the urban quality of life issues. The Save Danda Campaign, a recently proposed new initiative of the PNMF and its research affiliate (LCS) may also benefit from this research.

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Farmers’ Perception of Climate Change and Willingness to Pay for Weather Index-Based Insurance in Bahunepati, Nepal

From August to October 2014, we conducted a field study in Bahunepati, Nepal to examine the effective mechanism to cope with climate change. The village is located in the Sindhupalchok district in the Hill Belt. We randomly selected 353 households to interview with an overall response rate of 72% for the survey. This is a pioneering study of investigating effects of farmers’ perception of climate change on their willingness to pay (WTP) for a weather-index crop insurance in Nepal.

We designed two insurance products: Product A insures rice, and Product B adds five main livestock. The research improves on the previous literature by analyzing two crop insurance products which incorporate both crop and livestock. We used perception of future climate change (ex-ante perception) and perception of past impacts of climate change (ex-post perception) to measure farmers’ perception of climate change.

Results show that people who are aware of climate change are around 18% and 16% more likely to pay for insurance product A and B. I also find that the effect of other existing mitigation strategies crowds out people’s WTP. In addition, the annually mean WTPs are 1.6% and 3% of household income for product A and product B, respectively.

Graduate Student: Wenmei Guo

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5-In-1 Pro Weather Station

Weather stations are used to measure outdoor weather-related variables. The Pro 5-in-1 Weather Station measures five different outdoor conditions including the temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and rainfall. The station has a monitor that displays the weather parameters in real-time, an application that displays the readings, and an online network for communities to access the weather measurements on the web from anywhere.

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Water Quality

Water quality test are being done using La motte kits. In this particular experiment, we measure pH, temperature of water, dissolved oxygen, Biological Oxygen Demand, Nitrate, Phosphate, Ammonia, Heavy Metal, and Coliform. Comparison of the data with standard values will help us to analyze the quality of the water. Currently, the water sample is taken from three different spots of Danda River. 1. Shantinagar 2. Ward-3 near PNC and 3. Paklihawa. The eco-club members are the students of different public and private schools and they are actively involved in the data collection process for water sampling.

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Air Quality

We measure indoor air quality by a sensor known as Laser Eggs. They monitor air quality based on a measurement called the Air Quality Index (AQI). This is an automated device which converts the concentration of dust particles in to the digital reading that is displayed in the screen. It measures the air quality in particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5). The Laser Egg was selected for this citizen science project because of its affordability, user-friendly interface, and real-time data display on the Laser Egg sensor, as well as a built-in application that can be accessed easily through a download on a smart device.

For outdoor air quality purple air air monitors are used. Purple air sensors are automated laser particle counters that enumerate particles causing air pollution. It counts the particles between 0.3µm to10 µm in diameter presents in air which help us to find the level of pollution in the respective locality. As a part of DEMP initiative, we are using the outdoor purple air monitor to find out the level of pollution in urban cities like Bhairahawa and Butwal. The data are automatically uploaded in the purple air site which could be downloaded for further scientific study and analysis.

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Levelogger Pressure Transducer

Levelogger Pressure transducers are designed to measure the level and temperature of water for various water resource management applications (Solinst, n.d.). These can include: long term groundwater monitoring of river, lake, and stream gauging; aquifer testing; wetlands and storm water runoff monitoring; and agricultural stormwater runoff monitoring (Solinst, n.d.). A Solinst Levelogger Edge water level and temperature logger was used to initiate the process of measuring river dynamics (river stage) of the Danda River. This has also been preferred because of its relative affordability, durability, long-lasting battery life, large data point memory, and potential Bluetooth and smart phone application capabilities.

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Geo-Tech Underground Water Monitor

Geo tech ET is a user-friendly underground water monitor that can be used to measure the depth of water from the surface. This is an important initiative because with rapid urbanization the level of underground water is fluctuating. The period of monitoring and mitigation of the causes of the water level fluctuation is significant in those areas where people depend on underground water for domestic and agricultural uses. Monitoring of underground water level helps to make water user aware of possible consequences due to the drying of underground water, action to be taken to maintain the reservoir and formulate the policies to regarding wise use of this resource.

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