Launch of "Women in Solar" Nepal Program: Bringing Solar Power to the Kaathe Tower in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park

In mid-December of 2018, 10 Nepali participants traveled to Chitwan National Park to install a 2.87 kW off-grid solar system on the Kaathe Observation Tower for the launch of GRID’s first “Women in Solar” project in Nepal. With the system now successfully installed, access to reliable electricity will also help the local community generate additional income to support conservation and livelihood efforts in Chitwan National Park.

The male and female participants stand as a group with the hardhats, ready for the first day of the installation
Participants get ready for the first day of the installation!
The 6 women and 4 male participants that joined GRID for this project are ex-Kamlaris who are no longer in bonded servitude and are currently learning technical skills to be able to join the paid workforce in Nepal. Working alongside GRID staff and Nepali partner Gham Power, the Kaathe Tower installation provided a unique, hands-on training experience for participants that exposed them to work in renewable energy and demonstrated to participating women that they too have the potential and opportunity to be a part of the growing solar industry in Nepal. 

4 local men standing on canoes, pushing them upstream with a long pole
Local men push canoes upstream as part of ecotourism activities that generate revenue for local community
The Kaathe (Wooden) Observation Tower is located within the Kumrose Buffer Zone Community Forest of Chitwan National Park, and has been in operation for 15 years under the management of the Budhi Rapti User Committee. The tower serves as an ecotourism stay for visitors, who come to observe the diversity of species endemic to the lowland “Terai” ecosystem , including rhinoceros, deer, crocodiles, wild boar, tigers, and peacocks. 

A woman participant stands in front of the tower with the panel installation in progress
Ratna Chaudhary, of GRID's first Women in Solar Nepal cohort, stands in front of the nearly completed installation at the Kaathe Tower
With the installation of the solar system, the Kaathe Tower now has access to a reliable source of electricity to not only power lighting, but also power a water pump that can provide running water around the clock, a facility to charge cell-phones and camera batteries, and electric fans to make visitors’ stay more comfortable.  As documented in previous tower solarization projects, enhancing the accommodations offered in these wildlife observation towers significantly increases the number of visitors, which in turn increases the revenue that the towers generate. The additional revenue collected by the Budhi Rapti User Committee will go directly to paying two full-time staff, maintaining the tower, providing scholarships for students at the local school, and managing the surrounding wetlands and grasslands. 

Woman participant using a nailing in an AC outlet
Participants installed the entire 2.87 kW system from start to finish, from placing panels on the roof to nailing in the electrical outlets inside the tower
This project was sponsored by Empowered by Light, with support from Friends of Nepal, and contributions of the Budhi Rapti User Committee. The women and men participating in the installation are supported by Creating Possibilities Nepal, a local social organization that is dedicated to improving the welfare of marginalized children and women in Nepal.

See photos from the installation also check out our Women in Solar Nepal video!

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