Monday, December 31, 2007

End of Nepal monarchy - or trouble? By Charles Haviland

End of Nepal monarchy - or trouble?
By Charles Haviland
BBC News

Nepal's most powerful parties have agreed that the 240-year-old monarchy will be abolished, yielding to a demand put by the Maoist former rebels when they walked out of the interim government three months ago.

The historic decision reverses a clause of last year's peace agreement which said the fate of the royals would be decided by a popularly-elected assembly.
Parliament must now change the temporary constitution. It will be left to the assembly, once elected, to actually scrap the monarchy - but that is looking almost inevitable. The move concludes a dismal year of continuing violence, new militant ethnic sentiment and endless political squabbling - a big contrast to 2006 which saw the end of the Maoist insurgency and, earlier, King Gyanendra's climb-down from direct rule.

Punitive acts
Although their walk-out meant elections were postponed for a second time, the Maoists say they will now rejoin the cabinet and stand in polls rescheduled for next spring.
Speaking to the BBC, senior Maoist leader C.P. Gajurel denied his party feared facing the voters. "We are committed to multi-party democracy, peaceful competition in the election," he said. But, he added, "definitely we will not go for the previous so-called parliament". The Maoists, Mr Gajurel said, wanted a new kind of parliament where "oppressed classes can compete".

Perhaps most worrying of Nepal's new troubles is the violence in the Terai, the southern plains, where an ethnic community known as the Madhesis - roughly a third of Nepal's population - is now demanding rights after years of neglect. People of hill origin, loosely known as Pahadis, have always ruled Nepal. The Madhesis complain there is no sign of this changing.

Political violence has killed over 100 people there this year.

In the city of Janakpur a prosperous doctor, Vijay Singh, dressed in a lungi like a sarong, served me tea. An assertive advocate of the Madhesi cause, he dismisses the notion that Madhesis feel closer to India, despite cultural similarities. "We are essentially Nepalese," he said. "[But] we have not been provided citizenship easily. In all the structure of Nepal, the police structure, army structure, any wing of the government, the representation of Madhesis is almost nil."

Many groups voicing such grievances have formed. Some are moderate. Some are militant, carrying out constant killings and kidnappings.
In a secret location I met Rajan Mukti, an unsmiling 25-year-old in a white shirt and red scarf, representing a major underground group called the JTMM Jwala Singh faction. He wants complete independence for the Terai. "Our liberation army punishes anyone who supports the absolute rule of the hill people. We want to destroy those Pahadi people who have absolute power and those supporting them."

'Security problem'
Ethnicity makes many a target. I visited Madhav Acharya, an old, deaf man. A militant group has confiscated the land where he grows his paddy. "More than 70% of the Pahadis here in Janakpur have left. They've been displaced," he said. "But it's difficult for me. My children are studying. I can't go anywhere else. I'm scared, but I don't know who to turn to." Conversely, Madhesi campaigners say the authorities ignore their grievances. Madhesi human rights activist Dipendra Jha fears that a new task force sent in to tackle violence is counter-productive.

"Most of the armed forces are from the hilly area," he says. "They don't know about the cultural, social sensitivity of the Terai. Most politicians perceive the problems in the Terai as a security problem rather than looking at the political, social, economic, cultural demands. So the situation is getting worse and worse."
In several other regions, too, as ethnic sentiment grows, self-defence groups are emerging in the name of different communities.

In fact, Nepal consists of dozens of minorities, geographically intermingled but now demanding a voice. They will be hoping to be better heard, as under the new agreement more than half the assembly members will be elected under proportional representation. But in a deeply uneven, caste-dominated, male-dominated society, securing real change will not be easy.

Getting rid of the monarchy may be just one small detail in a much larger process of upheaval.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news. 2/hi/south_ asia/7159258. stm


Friday, December 7, 2007

NEPAL: Biogas technology beginning to make its mark

NEPAL: Biogas technology beginning to make its mark

Photo: Naresh Newar/IRIN
Nepal's biogas users play a key role in reducing carbon emissions

KATHMANDU, 6 December 2007 (IRIN) - Over six million tonnes of carbon emissions could be avoided in the next five years by Nepal through large-scale use of biogas, according to climate change experts.

Biogas is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by fermenting organic matter like animal or human waste, biodegradable waste and municipal solid waste.

In Nepal, biogas systems are circular pits filled with cow dung. Constructed near to people's homes, the gas they produce is piped to where the cooking is done.

Nearly 85 percent of Nepal's 27 million people live in rural areas and around 95 percent of the rural population burn traditional fuels such as wood and agro-waste.

Biogas systems were first introduced in Nepal in the late 1950s and thousands of families now use them.

The carbon emissions thus saved in Nepal may be small in comparison to global emissions, but this is an example of how poor countries like Nepal can help combat global warming.

"Nepal's biogas use has received recognition on a global scale and hopefully the country's contribution will be given more prominence," said Sandeep Chamling Rai, climate change adviser to the Nepal chapter of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Rai explained that every biogas system in Nepal avoids nearly 7.5 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Poor Nepalese farmers and low-income rural families use the systems most.

Biogas partnership

Over 173,000 Nepali households now have biogas systems thanks to the Biogas Sector Partnership (BSP), the government's Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) and financial and technical assistance from the Dutch aid agency SNV.

Photo: Naresh Newar/IRIN
Nearly 95 percent of rural Nepalese still use fuelwood in their homes

These agencies pay over half of the US$500 cost of building a biogas system and buying a gas cooker. Today, Nepal has the world's highest number of biogas systems per capita, outnumbering China and India, according to BSP.

Biogas has turned into an indispensable part of Nepal's efforts to mitigate global warming, according to WWF-Nepal.

"Biogas has already replaced the use of wood in tens of thousands of households and we can easily see how much it has helped reduce carbon emissions," said Saroj Rai, executive director of BSP.

Carbon trading benefits

In January 2007 Nepal started trading carbon emissions with the World Bank at the rate of US$7 per tonne, and recently the AEPC signed a deal with the Bank to sell carbon emissions at $10.25 per tonne, according to WWF-Nepal.

Nepal is already earning over $600,000 per year through its voluntary emissions reduction (VER), which unlike the Compulsory Emission Reduction (CER) of the Kyoto Protocol is not bound by any UN convention, according to the BSP.

"The government has already done its job of preparing a project design document and by 2012, Nepal will have traded a huge amount of carbon," said Batu Krishna Upreti, under-secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology.


Source: Irin News;

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Welcome to HPRC-2007 Sessions at UW--Madison

Second Annual Himalayan Policy Research Conference organized by the Nepal Study Center of the University of New Mexico at Preconference Venue of the 36th Conference on South Asia, U. of Wisconsin --Madison.
October 11, 2007
8 am - concludes at 5:35PM
Assembly and Caucus Rooms

Dear colleagues (attending the 36th SA Conference at Madison [Oct 11-14]):

Thank you for showing your interest and support in promoting policy and research knowledge pool on the Himalayan region and the neighboring countries in South Asia. We would like to welcome you to attend our HPRC-2007 sessions (Thursday, October 11). The program details are provided below:

South Asia Conference Site:
NSC's HPRC-2007 Conference Page:

Please pass on this information to your colleagues attending the 36th Madison SA Conference.

We would also like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to our e-journals published by NSC. To learn more about the submission policy and other details, please visit the following sites:

We will be putting together a proceedings of the expanded abstracts from the HPRC-2007 conference sessions in the NSC's e-journal HJDD. Please don't hesitate to contact us to share your feedback and interest.

Thank you.


On behalf of the HPRC-2007 conference panelists

Alok K. Bohara (U. of New Mexico)
Mukti P. Upadhyay (Eastern Illinois U.)
Vijaya R. Sharma (U. of Colorado)
Gyan Pradhan (Westminster College)
Ambika P. Adhikari (Arizona State U.)

Session 1A: Discrimination, Exclusion and Political Participation, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM (Room AR)
Chair: Daniel Putnam, University of Minnesota

Session 1B: Conservation and Resource Management, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM (Room CR)
Chair: Joel Heinen, Florida International University

Session 2A: Political Structure and Democracy, 9:50 AM – 11:55 PM (Room AR)
Chair: Kristine Eck, Uppsala University

Session 2B: Water and Forestry Resources, 9:50 AM – 11:55 PM (Room CR)
Chair: Keshav Bhattarai, University of Central Missouri

Lunch Break: 12:00 PM – 1:45 PM

Session 3A: Conflict and Related Issues, 1:50 PM – 4:20 PM (Room AR)
Chair: Mahendra Lawoti, Western Michigan University

Session 3B: Poverty, Development and Finance, 1:50 PM – 4:20 PM (Room CR)
Chair: Jeffrey Drope, University of Miami

Coffee Break: 4:20 PM – 4:40 PM (Room AR)

Session 4: Environment and Pollution, 4:45 PM – 5:35 PM (Room AR)
Chair: Murari Suvedi, Michigan State University

Conference concludes at 5:35 P.M

Friday, October 5, 2007

The miracle of ‘malunggay’

More article on Moringa..

We continue to gather news and articles on the miracle tree called "Moringa".
This from the Philippines.

Source: Inquirer

But because of the importance of the material to to the whole humanity, we have provided the material with due acknowledgement to the source whose linke is provided above.

Thank you

The miracle of ‘malunggay’

By Ernesto Ordoñez
Last updated 03:08am (Mla time) 10/05/2007

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Close this MANILA, Philippines -- On Oct. 2, a day after he was appointed program director of the Department of Agriculture’s Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Program on High-Value Commercial Crops (HVCC), Dr. Rafael Espino called me to tell me his three priorities: Higher farmer income, better nutrition and increased food security.

When I was at the Department of Agriculture (DA), I had worked with Espino, who held the same position, in the early 2000s. At that time, he formulated a successful project where a combination of vegetable foundation seeds -- that would provide optimal vitamins and minerals for a family for a whole year -- were sold in packets for P10 each.

After he left the DA in 2002, he continued his work for small farmers, taking this project to Gawad Kalinga in the interim. He says he will pursue this project on a wider scale at the DA to benefit small farmers.

I mentioned to Espino the possibility of the vegetable “malunggay” to be included in this packet of seeds since it had so many desirable properties. Thus started our conversation on the potential miracle of malunggay.

Unknown product

Malunggay, or “moringa” to the rest of the world, has been promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the past 20 years as a low-cost health enhancer in poor countries around the world. Yet today, it is still relatively unknown.

“The sale of all forms of vitamins, minerals, and health supplements is a big business,” according to Moringa Zinga, a US company that promotes and sells malunggay products in capsules. “If you are a company selling hundreds of nutritional products, why would you sell a product that will wipe out all your other products? This is true for the pharmaceutical industries as well. These industries would rather that the general public remains ignorant about the moringa leaves.”


What exactly is the potential miracle of moringa? India’s ancient tradition of “ayurveda” states that the leaves of the moringa tree can prevent 300 diseases. Modern science confirms this basic concept, while scientific research has shown that malunggay leaves provide almost miraculous nutritional value.

Gram for gram, moringa leaves contain four times the calcium and two times the protein in milk. It also contains seven times the vitamin C in oranges, three times the potassium in bananas, and four times the vitamin A in carrots.

Aside from improving human health, there are other significant advantages.

In “The Moringa Tree” by Dr. Martin L. Price (, he cites the benefits of moringa leaf extract as a plant growth hormone, the moringa shoots as green manure to enrich agricultural lands, moringa leaves as livestock feed because of its rich high protein content, moringa seed powder and the fresh cake left over from oil extraction as treatment for turbid water, moringa as a good live fence tree with its bark used to make mats and rope, and the compound in the flowers and roots of the moringa tree, pterygospermin, as a powerful antibiotic and antifungal remedy.

Espino says that it is very easy to grow malunggay. It is even drought resistant. But is it profitable?

When I looked for the financial returns of planting malunggay, I called up the DA’s Agricultural Marketing and Assistance Service (AMAS). Though they have average production costs and returns for 27 products, malunggay was not one of them. However, Director Alice Ilaga of the DA’s Biotechnology Program informed us that, for a hectare of malunggay, the estimated net income per year is P150,000.

More funding

For agriculture to flourish, it is important that it gets more investments. But investments usually come in if there is a promise of profit. The information on production costs and returns in the DA-AMAS database covers only 27 products. It was last updated in 2005.

There must be more funding to expand the product list to include important items like malunggay. Furthermore, because of its importance to potential investors, the list must be updated up to 2007. Interested parties may call DA-AMAS Director Francisco Ramos at 920-2216 to access their existing database and get valuable agricultural business advice from his staff.

The promotion budget for products like malunggay should also be increased. It is fortunate that, this week, malunggay is being promoted in a DA booth at the on-going Agri-Link Fair at the World Trade Center on Roxas Boulevard.

Potential miracle

Other projects, like “Food Always In The Home” (FAITH), promoted by Dr. Florentino Solon (+63918 9175197), president for the last thirty years of the Nutrition Center of the Philippines, should also get more support.

Solon cites malunggay as the “most powerful and most wonderful” of the five vegetables that are recommended.

The potential miracle of malunggay should not just remain an illusion, but a reality that would meet the three objectives Espino has identified: Higher farmer incomes, better nutrition and increased food security.

The author is the chairman of Agriwatch, former secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, former undersecretary of agriculture, and former undersecretary of trade and industry. For inquiries and suggestions, email or call or fax +632 8522112.

Friday, September 21, 2007

John Finlay: Father of Nepal’s gobar gas industry

Father of Nepal’s gobar gas industry
John Finlay (3 October 1938 – 3 September 2007)

From Issue #366 (14 September 07 - 20 September 07), Nepali Times

John came to Nepal from Northern Ireland in 1973 to join the United Mission to Nepal (UMN). After some months of Nepali language study in Kathmandu, he was soon busy sharing his engineering skills with students at the Butwal Technical Institute (BTI). Another UMN staff member, a teacher from Scotland called Sheila Anderson, was working in the northern Gorkha village of Jaubari and as they got to know each other they decided to marry. After their wedding in Scotland in 1975, they returned to work in Butwal where they were also hostel parents to some of the BTI students.

At this time John got involved in the development of biogas as an alternative fuel and helped in the production of the very first commercial unit built in Nepal. His passion was always to use the skills he had to help those in need, and he saw biogas as a way to save many Nepali village women the daily chore of gathering wood for fuel from the country’s diminishing forests.

In 1975, UMN’s Development and Consulting Services built 95 gobar gas plants in Rupandehi, Nawalparasi and Kapilvastu districts. John later led a team to monitor how they were being used and how the designs could be improved.

In 1977 a company called Gobar Gas and Agro Equipment Development Pvt Ltd was set up and this was the start of the wider use and promotion of this eco-friendly source of energy in Nepal. Now there are several Nepali biogas companies and about 170,000 units in use across the country.

John himself was a champion of this technology both within Nepal and beyond, and it was in recognition of this that the Nepal Biogas Promotion Group recently honoured John with a special plaque of appreciation at their 13th Annual Meeting on 5 September. Sadly this was just two days after John passed away in Scotland, but Jennie Collins, UMN’s Executive Director, was honoured to be able to receive it on his behalf.

John’s career in UMN later led him and his family to Jumla for several years, where the Karnali Technical School was being built. The Finlay family returned to Northern Ireland in 1990, but after his wife’s untimely death there in 1994, John returned to Kathmandu to again work with UMN, bringing with him his valuable skills, commitment and attention to detail.

John became seriously ill a few months ago and had to return to the UK. Despite radiotherapy, he died peacefully on 3 September in Glasgow, Scotland.
John will always be remembered for his fun-loving ways and his open and transparent nature. He has left a legacy in Nepal that will remain.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

High Hills, Deep Poverty: Explaining Civil War in Nepal

A very interesting explanation of Nepal's conflict by Laxmi Iyer to the author Martha Legace, Harvard Business School, is copied below from the link given. We have not taken any permission to copy and paste, but since this is so important in the context of Nepal, we thought we would use this information with due acknowledgement to the authors. Laxmi Iyer co-authored a book "Poverty, Social Divisions and Conflict in Nepal" with Quy-Toan Do, an economist of the World Bank which was published in June, 2007.

The PDF version of the book is available at this link.

High Hills, Deep Poverty: Explaining Civil War in Nepal
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 10:00:00 -4000
Q&A with: Lakshmi Iyer
Published: August 6, 2007
Author: Martha Lagace


Civil wars have been the dominant form of conflict around the world since World War II, resulting in approximately 20 million deaths. But it's not just sociologists who are diving into the roots of conflict. Increasingly, economists are examining these events to learn more about civil wars and how to prevent them.

"The main conclusion from this whole stream of research is that investing in poverty reduction strategies not only has direct economic benefits but also political benefits," says Lakshmi Iyer, a Harvard Business School professor with expertise in political economy.

A new working paper that Iyer coauthored with Quy-Toan Do, of the World Bank, probes this topic in depth by examining the country of Nepal, the land-locked home of Mount Everest. Nepal's internal conflict has killed more than 13,000 people since 1996.

While many serious studies have examined conflict dynamics, including Nepal's, they have leaned toward one of two approaches: a broad view of several different countries together, or the sharp focus of a case study. Iyer and Do's method combines the best of both worlds by examining a variety of factors within a single country that could explain the descent into violence. For Nepal, these factors for study included poverty, social and language diversity, and even geographical conditions.

What Iyer and Do found: poverty trumps all, yet in a complex, nuanced way. As Nepal's conflict developed, the intensity of violence shifted from the poorest areas to areas which were relatively better off. The results and research method could aid in understanding, explaining, and perhaps preventing civil war elsewhere.

"We are filling in a methodological hole," says Iyer of their paper, "Poverty, Social Divisions, and Conflict in Nepal" [PDF]. "There are many detailed case studies of conflict, and many broad-brush, cross-country studies. Within-country studies, such as we conducted on Nepal, fill in the gap between the two different approaches. Our econometric analysis tells us whether what you observe in a couple of case studies is a general phenomenon; in this sense, this approach is complementary to detailed sociological or anthropological case studies."

"If people want to do something about poverty there—and it's a very poor country," she continues, "it is important that the political situation is first stabilized."

Iyer explained more in an interview.

Martha Lagace: What sparked your interest in Nepal?

Lakshmi Iyer: I was in Nepal before the conflict started. It is a beautiful country and it's a real pity they have descended into civil war. A peace agreement was signed last year, which I hope will last.

My primary research interests are political economy and development. In the past few years economists have been very interested in analyzing political phenomena like civil wars. Civil wars are the dominant form of conflict since World War II; they're much more common than interstate wars now and they've killed more than 20 million people.

Quy-Toan Do and I talked with people who were doing poverty assessments in Nepal, and we realized that we had an ideal setting to study the factors that influence conflict.

Most of the empirical literature has been cross-country. That's always a little bit of a problem because you're almost comparing apples and oranges. Here we had the same conflict and the possibility to check how it progressed in different parts of one country. We could keep many things constant—the conflict's ultimate goals, the personality of the leader, the tactics, the kind of a political system they already have—and focus on the role of economic and social variables.

Q: Why did you think geographic and ethnic diversity were important?

A: These factors have been hypothesized in the prior literature to affect the probability of civil war. Some findings in the cross-country literature are quite robust, such as the fact that poor countries tend to be at greater risk of civil war. The evidence is mixed on whether ethnically diverse countries have a greater risk of civil war. Scholars have argued it both ways. Some say that if a society is very diverse it is very hard to coordinate rebel forces; you cannot get a large enough bunch of people to fight against the government, so the risk of civil war is low. Others say that many different groups cannot agree on anything, so such differences lead to a greater chance of civil war. The role of geography is also open.

Nepal has a huge amount of diversity in all these dimensions. Geographically it has 3 major zones: the high mountains, which include Mount Everest, the hilly regions, and then the Himalayan foothills, which contains most of the good agricultural land.

Economically there are huge variations, too. Nepal is a poor country: GDP is only around $270 a year, and right before the conflict started, in 1996, 42 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. But this varied from less than 10 percent in the capital Kathmandu to more than 50 percent in several districts.

Nepal is very diverse socially as well. One of our innovations over much of the existing literature was to look at two dimensions of social diversity: linguistic diversity (can people communicate or not?) and caste diversity (how much do some people want to keep away from other people?). About 90 percent of the population in Nepal is Hindu, but within Hindu society there are many castes and a lot of discrimination against the lower castes. We constructed an index of caste diversity using 76 different caste categories listed in the Census. The Nepali language is spoken by about 60 percent of the population, but there are 13 different languages spoken by more than 1 percent of the population. We used this to construct a measure of linguistic diversity as well.

Q: What did your research show were the greatest predictors of conflict in Nepal?

A: Geography and poverty. Mountainous and forested areas had greater conflict intensity. That makes sense for guerilla warfare, since these conditions enable rebels to hide easily. And poor areas were much more likely to see a lot more deaths: a 10 percentage point increase in poverty is associated with 10 additional conflict-related deaths. Once we control for poverty, measures of caste and linguistic diversity are not significant predictors of the intensity of conflict. There's been a lot written about the conflict, and many accounts say that the conflict is supported by lower caste members, such as the Magar community. Our conclusion for Nepal is that the root cause of the conflict is economic, not social—but social conditions can contribute to economic backwardness. In fact, we find that areas with greater caste diversity tend to be poorer.

You also hear a surprising number of accounts of women being involved as fighters in the Maoist insurgency. And of course women in Nepal face a lot of discrimination just like they do in many poor countries of the world. But again, empirically, this doesn't turn out to be a very important factor, in the sense that we do not see a higher concentration of conflict in places where women are more discriminated against.

Another thing we did, which cross-country studies often do not do, was track the evolution of the conflict over time. We could see how the conflict's relationship with poverty changed. This observation reinforces the fact that poor areas are always at more risk: once the Maoists gained control of the poorest areas, we see the highest intensity of the conflict shifting to the relatively better off areas. It's important to keep the history of the conflict in mind, when doing such analysis, and not just look at one point in time.

Q: Did Nepal have a long history of conflict prior to the civil war?

A: Not this kind of armed insurgency. It had popular movements for democracy: street protests, marches, demands. Nepal was a monarchy and became a democracy in 1991. Democracy didn't work very well for Nepal: starting in 1991 and over the next 12 years it had 12 different governments. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which had contested the first election, turned to violence in 1996.

When the insurgency became very serious in 2005 the king (Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev) decided to take back power. In 2006, bowing to popular pressures just like in '91, he gave it up again. And now Nepal is back to elective representatives of the people. There is a power-sharing agreement with the Maoists, and Nepal hopes to have elections in November for a constituent assembly to frame a new constitution.

Q: What else do you plan to study?

A: I can think of two related research questions: the first is how to end conflict. What's the stage at which peace agreements might last? Nepal had two prior ceasefire agreements—both were broken by the Maoists. But the latest one at least seems to be holding up for now. Many peace agreements are brokered by a third country. Is that necessary? Under what conditions is that kind of agreement going to work?

The other branch of research I would like to work on is the impact of conflict. How do households cope? After a conflict ends, how long does it take for households to recover? How do mechanisms like occupational change or migration contribute to recovery from crisis? Quy-Toan Do and I are planning to study this question, in the context of either Nepal or Bosnia.

I'm also trying to find similar conflict data for India right now because India also has Maoist insurgents in many parts of the country. More than a hundred districts in India are currently affected by Maoist insurgencies, and it would be interesting to see whether the conflict has evolved in the same way as in Nepal. In fact, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist was known to be in touch with Indian Maoist groups.

In addition, because my primary field of research is political economy, I'm studying interactions between politicians and bureaucrats in India. How much do politicians control bureaucrats, and how much does it matter for policy?

Q: What can our readers—business people—keep in mind about civil conflict?

A: Investing in poverty reduction strategies can lead to political benefits in addition to direct economic benefits. Therefore, the right investment at the right time can have very important long-term consequences, making a place better off now and, by ensuring political stability, contributing to future growth as well. We should all keep that in mind whether we are business managers, policymakers, or international institutions.

About the author
Martha Lagace is the senior editor of HBS Working Knowledge.

Malnutrition is severe in Nepal: Indicating continued poverty and backwardness for decades to come

No matter how much fighting is done for politics, or no matter how much we hypothesise about social transformation, we are heading towards a grim future of this country,instead of getting towards positive transformation, if malnutrition is not addressed. Nation is built by those who grew up with proper nutrition in their childhood. Here is an eye-opening status for Nepal, an article by Tom Atwood on the Kathmandu Post, published in August 9 edition. There is a great war to win!

Malnutrition takes toll on GDP, IQ


KATHMANDU, Aug 9, 2007.

Seven years after Nepal committed itself to the task of halving malnutrition by the year 2015 - one of the Millennium Development Goals - general malnutrition remains a serious problem. Over the past 25 years, general malnutrition levels have decreased at a miniscule rate. This obviously means the status of malnutrition as a public health problem will remain for decades to come. .
According to the World Bank, decreased productivity and IQ levels resulting from malnutrition are causing a loss of up to 3 percent in GDP, which amounts to around Rs 18 billion annually.

At present, Nepal has one of the highest levels of malnutrition in South Asia. A study conducted by the Ministry of Health and Population (MHP) in 2006 shows that 49 percent of children under the age of 5 are stunted - an indicator which compares height to age and reflects chronic malnutrition.

Despite its pervasiveness, malnutrition, however, generally goes unnoticed. In Nepal, it is difficult to explain to mothers that their children are not short because short is the norm here. Surrounded by small door jambs, low ceilings, and a 50 percent stunted population, tall members of the population stick out, and the erroneous myth that Nepali people are inherently short perpetuates itself unnoticed.

In a sense, being short is not the problem. It is the process and consequences of becoming short that keep developing nations on their knees. In response to adverse conditions created by malnutrition, children become less active and less responsive to stimulus, which causes sub-optimal mental and physical development.

During the first two years of life, 80 percent of the brain develops. Studies however show, that those years are frequently marked by insufficient nourishment, disease, and subsequently, malnutrition and stunting. "Between the ages of six months and three years, the percentage of stunted children in Nepal rises from 11.6 to nearly 60 percent," according to the 2006 survey of MPH.

While malnutrition indices peak during early childhood and either level off or begin to decline slowly after age three, there is reason to believe that the damage done is irreversible. "There is actually a very, very tight window of opportunity between conception through the first two years of life," says Meera Shekar from the World Bank, "If we miss this window, we miss a whole generation."

The consequences of early malnutrition ripple through society. A recent World Bank report shows that one percent decrease in adult height due to childhood stunting correlates with 1.4 percent loss of productivity, and that stunting in general is associated with as much as 11-point decrease in IQ. The result is that schools can be built and jobs created, but without proper nutrition Nepal's economic and social development will continue to be held back.

When searching for a solution to malnutrition in Nepal, the most common misconception is that it stems entirely from lack of food security and cannot be reduced unless general poverty is addressed first. World Bank studies, however, make it clear that extreme poverty and insufficient food are part of the problem, but are far from being the entire problem.

In fact, according to the UN Common Country Assessment (UNCCA) for Nepal, two major causes of malnutrition are poor feeding practices and inadequate child care. At the age of six months, breast milk is no longer a sufficient source of nourishment for a child. Most mothers then supplement their milk with rice porridge. Often, rice porridge is bulky and energy deficient, and children, who have small stomachs, cannot eat enough porridge to fulfill their dietary needs unless they are fed five or six times a day. Unfortunately, Nepal Family Health Survey shows that mothers with heavy workloads and limited control over their use of time have difficulty feeding their children so often.

Furthermore, when children begin eating supplementary foods and start to explore their surroundings with greater ease, non-sterilized foods and sub-standard sanitary conditions increase the child's risk of infection drastically. According to the 2006 MHP survey, prevalence of illness peaks between 6 months and two years. Illness, in turn, causes decrease in appetite, and mothers usually feed sick children less when, in fact, they require extra energy to combat their illness and continue to develop and grow.

Recently, a number of initiatives have successfully reduced malnutrition in parts of Nepal. Amongst others, Save the Children's Positive Deviance Program, United Mission to Nepal's nutrition project, and the Ministry of Local Development's Decen0tralized Action for Children and Women program have yielded positive results by addressing malnutrition through holistic, community based reform.

As Meera Shekar says, "Nutrition is an investment issue. It is something that can drive economic growth rather than ride on the coat-tails of economic growth, because children who are well-nourished have been shown to have much higher income potential as adults."

Posted on: 2007-08-08 19:35:06 (Server Time)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mahabir Pun of Myagdi, Nepal bags prestigious Magsaysay award

Mahabir Pun of Myagdi bags prestigious Magsaysay award

Mahabir Pun: 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Community Leadership.

Mahabir Pun of Myagdi, western Nepal, has bagged the prestigious Raman Magsaysay Awards, for Community Leadership.

The Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) Tuesday announced that seven Asians bagged this year's Raman Magsaysay Awards, the Asian Equivalent of Nobel Prize.

Pun is among three Chinese, a Korean, an Indian and a Pilipino to receive the coveted award.

According to the RMAF, Pun, 52, is “recognised for his innovative application of wireless computer technology in Nepal, bringing progress to remote mountain areas by connecting his village to the global village”.

Pun is the fourth Nepali to receive the Magsaysay award. He will receive the award amid a ceremony in Manila on August 31.

Here is Pun's profile:

Nangi Village, where Mahabir Pun was born, rests high in the Himalayan foothills of western Nepal. Here and in surrounding Myagdi District live the Pun Magar, whose men have soldiered for generations across the globe as Gurkhas. Yet, their worldly careers have done little to change their sleepy homeland, so far from the traffic patterns that knit together the rest of the world. Indeed, Nangi is seven hours' hard climb from the nearest road. No telephone lines have ever reached it. Despite this, these days the people of Nangi are definitely connected to the world outside. Wireless Internet technology has made this possible. Mahabir Pun has made it happen.

Pun passed his boyhood grazing cattle and sheep in mountain pastures and attending a village school that had no paper or pencils or books. Wanting more for his son, Pun's father moved the family to Nepal's lowlands, where, in Chitwan, Pun finished high school and became a teacher, working for twelve years to help his younger siblings through school. Finally, a timely scholarship led him to a bachelor's degree at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Then, in 1992, after more than twenty years away, Pun returned home to Nangi, determined to make things easier for other youths than they had been for him.

Nangi's leaders were busy establishing a village high school. Pun eagerly joined in. Once a month, he made the two-day trip to the nearest major town of Pokhara to check his e-mail and maintain his links to friends abroad. This led, in 1997, to the donation of four used computers from Australia. Powering them with hydro generators in a nearby stream, Pun began teaching computer classes at the high school. More computers followed, but it proved impossible to get a telephone connection to Pokhara and the Internet.

Pun e-mailed the British Broadcasting Corporation, asking for ideas. In 2001, the BBC publicized his dilemma and within a year volunteers from Europe and the United States were helping him rig a wireless connection between Nangi and the neighboring village of Ramche, using TV dish antennas mounted in trees. Some small grants soon led to the construction of improvised mountaintop relay stations and a link to Pokhara. By 2003, Nangi was online.

As word of Pun's project bounced around the World Wide Web, backpacking volunteers carried more and more donated computers, parts, and equipment into the hills. Meanwhile, Pun expanded the wireless network to embrace twelve villages-distributing a hundred computers to local schools, connecting them to the Internet, teaching teachers how to use them, and then tinkering and troubleshooting until everything worked.

Today, connectivity is changing Myagdi. Using the district's "tele-teaching" network, good teachers in one school now instruct students in others. Doctorless villagers use Wi-Fi to consult specialists in Pokhara. Village students surf the Net and are learning globe-savvy skills. Pun himself is using the Web to e-market local products such as honey, teas, and jams and to draw paying trekkers to campsites that he has outfitted with solar-powered hot showers. In parallel projects, villagers in Nangi have themselves added a library, a health clinic, and new classrooms for the high school.

Pun, now fifty-two, is both self-effacing and charismatic. "I'm not in charge of anything," he says. Yet, he seems to be the driving force of much around him. Eventually, he says, the people of Myagdi District will have to carry on for themselves. In the meantime, he hopes to play his unique role indefinitely. "As long as I can walk," Pun says happily, "I can do this."

In electing Mahabir Pun to receive the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the board of trustees recognizes his innovative application of wireless computer technology in Nepal, bringing progress to remote mountain areas by connecting his village to the global village.

(Source: Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation) mk/ia July 31 07

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rainfall over Nepal receding relatively (except in Jhapa): Rainfall Prediction for South Asia for the period of July 30-August 6, 2007

Rainfall over Nepal for July 30 - August 6, 2007:

The rainfall for the period July 30-August 6 over Nepal is shifting towards western part of the country, and is mainly on lower half, that is where most of the rainfall will take place (in Mid and Far-western development region’s lower half portions). Otherwise the amount of rainfall is receding all over the country, and perhaps that will be a window of opportunity for relief and rehab operations. The south-east Jhapa district and parts of Illam will get quite some rains.

Please refer to earlier post (July 30, 2007), same statements apply.

Image 1: Rainfall Prediction for South Asia

Rainfall in South Asia: Bangladesh rains are receding too. The West coast of India is getting more rain again. Max rains are concentrated in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal for the week in South Asia.

Image 2: Rainfall for Asia continent

Thanks to CPC NOAA for the maps.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Nepal flood and Landslide situation as of July 29, 07: Nepal Red Cross Society

The following map depicts the flood and land slide situation in a nutshell, as of July 29, 2007 in Nepal.

Source: NRCS

After a lot damage last week, rains are receding: NOAA CPC prediction for July 29 - August 5, 2007

Many Terai district settlement and infrastructure is under flood water, and the death toll due to floods and landslides has raised to 72. Thousands of people are familes are displaced, and many children have died due to the spread of water-borne disease. Find below some notes on rainfall for this week:

Monsoon Highlights:

The rainfall synopsis for Nepal for July 29-August 5: The area under very heavy rains (150mm and more) is very less today (5-8% from 90% last week), and the area under just heavy rains (100 mm or so) is just 35%. Situation seems to be slightly improving; actually little rain in the eastern part of the country across the hills and plains. However, heavy rains are predicted in the far-west part of the country, especially in the plains and hills of Kanchanpur, Kailali, Bardiya, and Banke. Surkhet valley will have high rains as in the past, no less. Although the above terai districts will have heavy rains, the extent or the area of heavy rain is small, and is localized, so the flooding will continue at smaller intensity than the last few days.

Image 1: SOuth Asia Rainfall Prediction

The Terai districts of western and central Nepal - that are Kapilbastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Chitwan and Makwanpur will get rains above 150mm, same as last week, but, the upper reach of the streams in the area will have less rains. So, there is less chance of having serious and consistent flooding, although it is not possible to completely rule out possibility of flooding and submergence of settlements and infrastructure under flood water.

Eastern Nepal, especially, Jhapa will get regular high rains at its south-east part, but only few damaging incidents are expected there. The area upstream has less percentage area of high rains there.

Image 2: Asia Continent Rainfall Prediction
Bangladesh, India: The north-east part of india continues receiving heavy rains, although the rain concentrations are shifting more towards Madhya Pradesh and western part of UP and Bihar. The extent of rain area is not that widespread as in the last week. The western ghats of India rains are receding. However, the rain effect in Bangladesh continues to remain unchanged, due to continuation of heavy rains in Assam, Meghalaya and North half of Bangladesh, albeit the southern delta area seems to have relieved a bit. Here, the flow and submergence depends on what happens in the catchments of the Ganges and Brahmaputra anyway.

More updates tomorrow!

Thanks to NOAA CPC, who have presented rainfall prediction images for Asia.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

More Rains in Nepal coming week - Rainfall Prediction for South Asia and Asia Continent: July 25 - August 1, 2007

Here are two images showing expected rainfall in South Asia and Asia continent, provided by NOAA Climate Prediction Center
The above image for South Asia is subset of larger image covering entire Asia Continent given below.
One should look at the image and the given map legend to understand the rainfall scenario. In the map, Nepal is covered by top three classes/colors in the bar scale of precipitation. Minimum of 75 to 100 mm rains is there in every part of the country, although the area covered by this category is only in 5% of the area. The rest of 90% of the country is covered by a rainfall category which is in the range of 100 to 150mm. Remaining 5% is covered by a rainfall range of more than 150mm.

All this means, we should anticipate more rains than the last week (July 18-25) rains posted earlier. Districts in east and central east terai were mostly inundated in flood waters last week. What should expect this week? Even more. Expect more districts being soaked in flood waters especially in the Terai of Western, Central and eastern Development regions. The districts that are going to be affected are: Rautahat, Bara, Parsa, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilbastu and Jhapa. The districts which were flooded last week - Mahottari, Dhanusha, will get more water as their upstream highmountains are getting more rains (especially Dolkha area) and expect more landslides in Central region hills.

The northern Bangladesh, Assam and Meghalaya have very intense rains coming week indicating increase in the water levels in the Delta plains, and expect more area in Bangladesh under water.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rainfall Prediction for Asia and South Asia for the period of July 18-25, 2007

Here are two maps showing rainfall prediction for the period July 18-25, 2007 presented by Climate Prediction Center, NOAA.

The maps show that although there will be rains over Nepal, the intensity will be significantly less than other parts in the region such North-central India, Assam, Meghalaya, Bhutan, Bangladesh. Heavy rainfall is limited to Dolkha, Manang, Bajhang (some in Darchula and Humla), and Jhapa. This map shows less pockets of heavy rains than the earlier predictions. However, the predictions remain unaltered for the regions in India's states of Assam, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttaranchal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Heavy Rainfall expected over Nepal and the region: Rainfall Prediction for Asia and South Asia for the period of July 16-23, 2007

Here are two rainfall prediction maps presented by NOAA Climate Prediction Center, for Asia and South Asia for the period July 16-23, 2007.

Please note that heavy rains are expected in Nepal, mainly western part and rest of regions of Bhutan, Bangladesh, North India, Myanmar and Thailand, Indonesia, Indian and Pacific Ocean. All that means, we are in the midst of heavy monsoon season and must be prepared to deal with Floods and Landslides expected through out the region.


Ian Martin, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General's Press Statement

The following press statement was released by United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) recently, and reflects efforts made towards establishment of a peacefull democratic Nepal.

by Ian Martin
Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General

16 July 2007

I want to update you in particular on the two main aspects of UNMIN’s mandated support to the peace process: the monitoring of arms and armed personnel, and electoral support.

As you know, the second stage of registration and verification of Maoist army personnel was carried out at the main cantonment site in Ilam from 19 to 26 June, and the findings were presented on 27 June to the leadership of the CPN(Maoist), detailing those whom the verification teams assessed as aged under 18 on 25 May 2006, and others who were recruited to the Maoist army after 25 May 2006 and are therefore ineligible to remain in the cantonments. UNMIN arms monitors, together with the UNDP registration personnel and UNICEF child protection officers assisting them, were then ready to begin registration at the second site at Sindhuli, while at the same time cooperating with the Maoist army and the Interim Government regarding arrangements for the discharge of those found ineligible at Ilam. Maoist Chairman Prachanda however indicated that he wanted to have discussions with the Government and with UNMIN before proceeding, and these discussions could only take place after his return to Nepal from an overseas visit.

I met Chairman Prachanda last Thursday. Although he indicated his intention that verification should soon resume, he wanted further discussions to take place in the next few days before allowing it to do so. He indicated that these include broader discussions - beyond the issue of verification itself – among the eight parties and within the special committee of the Interim Government established in accordance with Article 146 of the Interim Constitution, to supervise, integrate and rehabilitate the combatants of the Maoist army. UNMIN recognizes the importance of such discussions, which must lead to eventual decisions regarding the future of Maoist combatants within the context of the future of the security sector, and we look forward to discussions with the special committee about the arrangements for those who leave the cantonments. However the important issue of security sector reform is primarily relevant to the future of those who remain in the cantonments after verification: it should not be a pre-condition to verification itself. I remind everyone that the Agreement on Monitoring the Management of Arms and Armies was negotiated between the Maoists and the then Seven-Party Alliance Government: it was they who agreed upon the criteria which UNMIN has been asked to apply and it is their responsibility now to enable us to do so in a spirit of cooperation. In accordance with the Agreement, the international community expects in particular that those who have been found to be under 18 on the relevant date must be discharged promptly. I expect to meet Chairman Prachanda again in the very near future to get the process under way again, both as regards orderly discharge and reintegration of those found ineligible at Ilam and as regards the beginning of verification at Sindhuli. One important aspect of our work at the cantonment sites has made further progress: last week saw the first destruction of explosive remnants of the conflict at the cantonment sites, and this will now go forward in cooperation with the Maoist army.

The Chief Election Commissioner’s briefing of the diplomatic community last Thursday reflected the substantial progress regarding planning for the Constituent Assembly election since my last briefing, and UNMIN’s electoral advisers have been working very closely with the Election Commission to assist this. This weekend saw the arrival of the first of 124 international United Nations Volunteers (UNVs) who together with 43 Nepalese UNVs will be deployed as district electoral advisers. By mid-August we plan to have deployed 48 international and 19 national UNVs to 28 district headquarters, from where they will cover another 31 districts. The rest of the district electoral advisers will be deployed in September, as we hope the monsoon will be coming to an end, so that we can extend their coverage to all 75 districts.

As you know, the first visit of the United Nations Electoral Expert Monitoring Team took place from 11 to 23 June. Their report has been submitted to the Secretary-General, who will shortly convey it to the Government and to the Election Commission. As soon as it has been received by them, there will be a press statement on its main findings and recommendations. The Electoral Expert Monitoring Team will make three further visits to Nepal, the next of which we expect to be in early August, and the last to include the period before, during and after the ballot itself. In the meantime, I fully support the request of the Government and the Election Commission for international and regional organizations, governments and NGOs to send as many international observers as possible. At the request of the Election Commission, the United Nations will assist in coordinating international observers through UNDP.

The holding of the election in a conducive climate still faces major challenges. UNMIN, and indeed the Secretary-General, have repeatedly stressed the importance of ensuring through dialogue that historically marginalized groups – Madhesis, Janajatis, Dalits, women and others – can accept that their legitimate demands for representation will be met by through the electoral system. I note that on Saturday the High-level Intra-party Coordination Committee of the eight-party alliance designated representatives to work with the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction in bringing to an early conclusion talks with Madhesi and Janajati groups. Such dialogue is also essential to the challenge of assuring public security, especially in the eastern Terai. UNMIN looks forward to being briefed on the Government’s plans for election security. But I welcome the recognition by many political leaders that the creation of public security and conditions conducive for the election in all districts and villages requires above all political cooperation, not just in Kathmandu but even more crucially at the local level. This must allow all parties – I stress all parties, not only the eight parties - to conduct their activities from now on without facing intimidation and violence.

I was pleased to participate on Saturday in the inaugural meeting of the Peace and Rehabilitation Consultative Committee, and to receive further confirmation there that the establishment of an independent national monitoring body is imminent. I stress as I have in the past the importance of its independence, and the urgency of the appointment of members of the National Human Rights Commission: both bodies are urgently needed to monitor progress in peace implementation, including the human rights commitment of the Comprehensive Peace Accord, and UNMIN and OHCHR can then intensify our own roles in monitoring or supporting national monitoring.

I want to end with a public appeal to all people and groups in Nepal: a plea for non-violence. It is sickening for those of us who wish to see a peaceful, democratic and inclusive Nepal to read daily of killings, assaults, threats of violence and destruction of public and private property. All such acts are criminal, whether or not they have a political dimension. When the opportunity beckons for all issues to be resolved through dialogue and a democratic process, no group will advance its cause, however legitimate, by such violent methods; and certainly they stand only to forfeit the sympathy of the international community.

Thank you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Curry from Moringa Tree: Munaga kaaya or Munaga kaara Tomato kura

India's ancient tradition of ayurveda says the leaves of the Moringa tree prevent 300 diseases.

A beautiful compilation on Moringa Oliefera appeared here on October 3, 2007.

The wikipedia link for the Moringa Tree is here.

More info on Moringa:
Information on some medicinal value found here.
Commercial farming of Moringa in Thailand:

More links on Moringa:
Sanjeevani Herbals, a professionally managed drumstick company:
Miracle Moringa - An article by Nancy Willis

Moringa oleifera: A Review of the Medical Evidence for Its Nutritional, Therapeutic, and Prophylactic Properties. Part 1. Jed W. Fahey, Sc.D. Trees for Life Journal

Moring gateway: Trees for Life Journal

Nutrition information on Moringa is here

For more info: Moringa News (

We are thankful to Sivapriya for letting us use this recipe (its source linked at the end) that uses Moringa Tree beans to prepare a special curry. The reason for using this recipe is just to provide continuity to informing on Moringa Tree and its miraculous properties to eliminate malnutrition among poor children. If you see earlier postings, there are some on Moringa Oliefera, including this article from Nigerian Tribune. We have removed two photographs taken by the author of the recipe on request not use them here. Rather, the beautiful photographs are found at the link given at the end.

We have also provided an additional link here on the recipes using Moring Tree leaves. Here is the link for the leaf recipe, and below we have recipe using the pods.


Munaga kaaya or Munaga kaara Tomato kura
July 13th, 2007 — shivapriya
Drumstick curry with tomato gravy.

Munaga kaaya or Munaga kaara is popularly known as Drumsticks all over India, the reason they got the name from the fact that they do resemble the musical drumsticks. The drumstick tree is often referred as horseradish tree and the botanical name is Moringa oleifera.

"Photograph taken by Shivapriya removed on request"

Drumsticks are widely used in Indian cooking, especially in South India. The drumsticks are green skinned, tough, grows 1-2 feet long, and is a sticklike vegetable, which is surprisingly soft and fleshy inside. The opaque white flesh, surround the seeds ( shaped like a pea), covered in layers of skins, is sweetish and nutty, fragrant, and tasty to eat, when cooked.

Also the leaves are used a lot in Indian cooking which is highly nutritious, contains good source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron and potassium. Often these leaves are cooked with lentils and potatoes, used as a substitute for fresh spinach.
In some places even the flowers are used in cooking. This tree is a good source for calcium and phosphorus.

Drumsticks tomato curry is a simple sweet, tangy and spicy gravy curry, cooked with onions, tomatoes, minimal spices (like chilli powder and turmeric) and aromatic curry leaves .Sweet and creamy flesh drumsticks absorb all the flavors of tomatoes, onions and spices all the way when cooked has an irresistible taste and satisfies everyone’s taste which can served with rice and roties (Indian bread). Drumstick sambar (lentil stew) is a popular dish all over India.


Fresh tender drumsticks (4-5)
1 onion finely chopped
2-3 green chillies (chopped)
3-4 tomatoes chopped
1 twig of curry leaves
Fistful of coriander leaves (chopped)
Red chilli powder (accord to taste)
1/4th tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1-2 cups water

1 red chilis broken into pieces
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch of hing
2 tbsp cooking oil


Cut drumsticks into 1″-1 ½ ” long pieces. Heat oil in a shallow pan and add the seasoning ingredients and sauté allow mustard seeds to splutter, put the curry leaves, chopped onions and chillies, turmeric and sauté till onions turn translucent. Now add red chilli powder, chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft and mushy (it takes around 5-6 minutes). Add salt, drumsticks and 1-1 ½ cup water, cover the pan and allow it to cook on a low flame. Keep stirring in between till done (its takes 20-25 minutes). Add water if needed and adjust the seasoning. Cook for couple more minutes, turn off the heat garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or choice of meal.

"Photograph taken by Shivapriya removed on request"

Notes and Tips

Do not over cook the drumsticks, don’t stir too much as the drumsticks will fall apart. You can slightly scrape the ridges (with peeler) if you want. The gravy should not be runny or thick. You can add little yogurt or cream at the end if you like. You can also add garlic. You can also use frozen drumsticks for this curry but the fresh tastes really good.


Friday, July 13, 2007

MORINGA: ‘Miracle plant’ with many healing powers

MORINGA: ‘Miracle plant’ with many healing powers
By Seye Adeniyi

Moringa plant; insets(L-R) are moringa flowers, friuts
and it's seeds
Many of the orthodox drugs being used to cure diseases today have their chemical formulations from herbs and trees, thanks to technological and medical advancement. Seye Adeniyi, in this report, X-rays the nutritional and medicinal benefits of a ‘miracle plant’ called Moringa Oleifera.

If you always complain of body pains, bowel disorder, headaches, fever, flunctuating body temperature, skin infections or diseases, as well as other ailments, then there is good news for you. Also, if you are the type that so much believe in foreign products especially drugs, and who does not believe that anything good can come out of Africa, as it is the attitude and belief of many people, then you need to have a rethink. However, for the benefit of those who have great delight and likeness for natural therapies especially what some people call alternative medicine, then you need to add this vital information to your knowledge. The news is that there is a plant which you might have been seeing either in your immediate environment or in your neighbour’s compound, but which you never given serious attention or probably, you always over-look, thinking it is irrelevant.That plants is known as Moringa oleifera — a shrub which our forefathers knew its worth and numerous benefits especially in the treatment of animal health, but which many of them did not document its nutritional and medicinal advantages for generation to come.

Every part of moringa oleifera plant, including the seeds and roots, are very useful in tackling many diseases like hypertension, chest infections, lung diseases, pains as well as skin infections. This is in addition to many other nutritional and medicinal usefulness. For instance, moringa seeds which have now become a “hot cake” in many African countries as well as USA and other Asian countries according to reports, sell for ten pounds for just ten seeds. The plant has many domestic names depending on the region or continent. Among the Yorubas, it is called Ewe-Igbale, while the Hausas refer to it as Sogele. The Ibos have their own name for the plant, just as it commands different names among different tribes. It is generally known as “drum stick,” and this is what the Asian as well as the Indians call it.

Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has undertaken scientific researches on moringa plant, and has come to a conclusion that it is extremely nutritional and medicinal. The benefits have also been documented in some medical and nutritional journals, little wonder many pharmaceutical companies all over the world are seriously working on the plant to make a fortune from it by extracting its active ingredients to produce drugs for both human and animal benefit. Speaking with Chief (Mrs.) Grace Oluwatoye, a trained nurse, who is also a lover of traditional/natural therapy and a specialist in Moringa plant, she told Natural Health that the seeds of the plant are being used for water purification in some African countries like Zambia, Kenya, Malawi as well as in some developed nations of the world like China, Japan, Malaysia, USA and India.

“In Malawa for instance, the seed has become a major “chemical” for water purification process and it is as popular as any other drug in the country.” “To confirm this, just click to Google, and you will appreciate what I’m saying,” she stated. The flowers according to her, can be processed and used for the production of pesticides. Moringa flowers contain certain natural chemicals which insects and other pests cannot withstand. Many pharmaceuticals companies and pesticides-producing industries have realised this, and they are working on it. In fact, moringa contains a “safer environment-friendly chemicals.” It is not injurious to human health compared to other/pesticides which have some negative effects on health.” The bark of moringa plant is also useful for medicinal purposes. The oil from the seeds for instance is also used by pharmaceutical companies in the making of certain types of drugs, while the pulp from the tree is used in paper making industries. “This simply means that no part of moringa plant is useless as both human beings and animals have one thing or the other to gain from the miracle plant,” she stressed.

It should be noted that when processed into powdery or tea form and consumed, it detoxifies the body system, cleanses impurities in the arteries and works against the build-up of cholesterol. Other advantages of the plant popularly known as miracle plant in many African countries include boosting of body immunity to resist infections and diseases. For example, moringa leaves, when dried, processed and taken, fight the dual epidemic of HIV and hunger in African countries. In Lusaka, Zambia for instance, people living with HIV/AIDS are using it as a food supplement to improves their body immunity against infections. The same thing, according to Mrs. Oluwatoye, is said to be happening in Uganda, Kenya and Senegal where processed moringa powder is extensively being used to fight certain infections in people living with HIV. It is a very rich source of vitamin A, C, B-complex, E, K, as well as folate biotin.

It is a nutrient-rich food additive for pregnant and lactating women. It is also an immunity booster. Children having malnutrition also stand to gain from moringa plant as well as growing children having bone problems. It also prevents childhood blindness. On comparative analysis with other common fruits and vegetables based on gramme for gramme, moringa leaves, according to Mrs. Oluwatoye, contains four-times the calcium in milk, four times the vitamin A in carrots, two times the protein in milk, three-times the potassium in banana, and seven-times the vitamins C in oranges. “Little wonder it is referred to as “miracle plant.” Oluwatoye further stated that the World Council of Churches and Societies has endorsed the plant as a health-promoting vegetable, especially for children and for chronically-sick people. It has also recommended that the miracle plant should be used as an instrument for fighting poverty and diseases in poor countries of the world. She, however, encourages every family in the country to plant moringa in their compounds, not only for health benefits, but also as a money generating investment.

“Honestly moringa plant, though not as popular as other medical plants, is an unpopular “plant of life”; a divine gift to humanity. Once you can plant it using the seeds cuttings or the seedlings, and can process it yourself, then you are a doctor on your own. My husband is over sixty and I’m over fifty, but you cannot easily deduce our ages, because we look younger than our ages and moringa is one of our secrets. Even there are many learned fellows like medical experts, professors etc who do come to take the plant. Honestly, you need to see them looking healthy and young, she further stressed. Buttressing the efficacy of moringa plant in treating malnutrition as well as other diseases in children, Dr. Nurudeen Animasaun, a naturopath stated that without mincing words, moringa oleifera is a miracle plant especially in the treatment of certain diseases. It is also important to state that some companies in America are using moringa plants to produce soft-drinks and beverages, and as she put it, “it is being sold for a high price because people appreciate the health benefit compares to other beverages. Its also have high degree of detoxifying properties on the body.

Moringa plant is non-toxic according to different laboratory findings, even at high concentration. It is easily digestible, easy to conserve and easy to use as supplement or on most foods (adult or children). Moringa plant or its processed products has no caffeine like other beverages, thus escaping adverse effects like anxiety as well as other negative effects on health. You can also use it to enrich pap, porridge or oat meal.

Source: Nigerian Tribune

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Removing Gallstones Naturally

Here is an interesting post on removing Gallstones Naturally.

Removing Gallstones Naturally, Excerpt from “Total Natural Health Approach Towards Recovery and No More Cancer” Dr. Lai Chiu Nan’s Talk in Singapore

Posted in Home Remedies at 8:11 am by Doc Emil

Gallstones may not be everyone’s concern. But they should be because we all have them. Moreover, gallstones may lead to certain cancers.
“Cancer is never the first illness,” Chiu-Nan points out. “usually, there are lots of other problems leading up to cancer”. In my research in China, I came across some material which says that, “people with cancer usually have gallstones.”
We all have gallsontes. It’s a matter of how big or how small, how many or how few. One of the symptoms of gallstones is feeling of bloatedness after a heavy meal. You feel you can’t digest the food. If it gets more serious, you feel pain in the liver area.
So if you think you have gallstones, Chiu-Nan offers the following method to remove them naturally. The treatment is also good for those with a weak liver, because the liver and gallstones are closely linked.
For the first five days, take four glasses of apple juice everyday. Or eat four or five apples, whichever you prefer. Apple juice softens the gallstones. During the five days, eat normally.
On the sixth day, take no dinner. At 6pm , take a teaspoon of Epsom salt (Magnesium sulfate) with a glass of warm water. At 8pm repeat the same. Magnesium sulfate opens the gallbladder ducts.
At 10 pm, take 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice. Mix it well and drink it. The oil lubricates the stones to help its passage.
The next morning , you will find green stones in your stool. “Usually it floats” Chiu-Nan notes, “You might want to count it. I had people who posses 40, 50 or up to 100 stones. ”
“Even if you don’t have any symptoms of gallstones, you still might have some. It is always good to give your gall bladder a clean up now and then. You’ll find that your digestion will be much better afterwards.”

International appeal for US$49 million to support Nepal's peace process

WFP launches international appeal for US$49 million to support Nepal's peace process
10 Jul 2007 13:23:00 GMT
Source: WFP
Location: Kathmandu

WFP in Nepal is launching a US$49 million recovery programme to assist over 1.2 million people who continue to struggle daily with the effects of the recently ended eleven-year conflict between the Maoists and the Government.

According to WFP’s Country Representative in Nepal, Richard Ragan, this represents one of the largest UN initiatives to support the people of Nepal during the transition to a new democracy, and offers donors an opportunity to support a rapid, field-based approach to saving lives and improving livelihoods.


“Despite the political, social and security progress of the last six months, over one million people in Nepal are still struggling with the effects of the conflict – damage to critical infrastructure, and unequal access to basic services.

This is on top of food insecurity exacerbated by three years of drought, conflict related market disruptions and the ongoing tensions in the Terai,” said Ragan.

“Our goal is to provide immediate assistance so people can begin rebuilding their lives and be better prepared to participate in the historic process of reshaping Nepal as a peaceful, democratic and inclusive state,” Ragan added.

Supporting peace

The aim of the programme is to support Nepal’s peace process by providing the most conflict-affected communities with quick-impact economic opportunities and local assets that will serve as a tangible peace dividend, and contribute to longer-term food security in Nepal.

Under the year-long programme, WFP will provide food aid to some of the most conflict-affected communities in 28 districts across Nepal.

Programme activities will focus on three areas: critical infrastructure, return and reintegration, and non-formal education. The objective of community-based activities will be to improve market access, create short-term employment, and facilitate basic service delivery.

Critical period

“This is a critical period in Nepal’s peace process – expectations by the people are high. The challenge faced by the interim government – to address the root causes of the conflict while at the same time laying the foundation for a new democracy – is arduous.

With WFP’s deep field presence and experience at running emergency operations in Nepal, we are in the unique position to deliver immediate recovery assistance to remote, conflict-affected populations who have yet to benefit from the peace process,” Ragan said.

Conflict death toll

As a result of the eleven-year conflict, over 13,000 people have been killed, an estimated 200,000 displaced and thousands of cases of critical infrastructure damage have been reported.

WFP projects in Nepal benefit currently approximately 1.4 million people, including food assistance to over 108,000 Bhutanese refugees. Operations include emergency assistance to drought-affected people in Mid- and Far-Western Nepal, and food for work, school feeding, and mother and child health care activities.

Contact us

Brenda Barton
Deputy Director Communications
Tel. +39-06-65132602
Cell. +39-3472582217
(ISDN line available)

Gregory Barrow
Tel. +44-20-72409001
Cell. +44-7968-008474

Christiane Berthiaume
WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564
Cell. +41-792857304

Jennifer Parmelee
Tel. +1-202-6530010
Ext. 1149
Cell. +1-202-4223383

Bettina Luescher
WFP/New York
Tel. +1-212-9635196
Cell. +1-646-8241112

Heather Sutliff
Tel. +977-1-5535694
Cell. +977-9851019098

Source: Here

Friday, July 6, 2007

Water wheel winner

Water wheel winner

From Issue #355 (29 June 07 - 05 July 07)
Nepali Times

The Centre for Renewable Energy Nepal has won second prize at the international Ashden Award for sustainable energy for its work improving 2,400 water mills (‘Wheels of change’, #354). Lumin Shrestha, director of CRTN received the Enterprise Award from former US Vice President Al Gore in the Royal Geographical Society in London last Friday. The four-year-old water mills program has already helped improve the livelihoods of almost 100,000 households.

The centre plans to use the £10,000 prize money to develop a low cost means of generating electricity with a simple magnet alternator using a short shaft water mill to charges batteries that can be used for household lighting purposes. CRTN is supported by the Alternate Energy Promotion Centre and SNV-Nepal.


Diameter of earth got smaller by 5mm since 2002

It’s a small world after all: German researchers

Agence France Presse
Bonn, July 5:

The world is smaller than first thought, German researchers at the University of Bonn said today.
They took part in an international project to measure the diameter of the world that showed it is five millimetres smaller than the last measurement made five years ago. Dr Axel Nothnagel, who led the Bonn researchers, told AFP the difference was crucial in the study of climate change.
“It may seem a very small difference, but it is essential for the positioning of the satellites that can measure rises in sea level.
“They must be accurate to the millimetre. If the ground stations tracking the satellites are not accurate to the millimetre, then the satellites cannot be accurate either.” The scientists round the number up to 12,756.274 kilometres for the general public.

Source: The Himalayan Times

Two Indian companies in fray for Nepal airport project

Two Indian companies in fray for Nepal airport project

Kathmandu, July 05, 2007
First Published: 12:08 IST(5/7/2007)
Last Updated: 12:11 IST(5/7/2007)

Two Indian construction companies are in the fray for a project to improve Nepal's lone international airport in Kathmandu.

New Delhi's IRCON International Limited and an Indo-Nepal joint venture between Mumbai's Valecha Engineering Ltd and local partner YP Construction are among the six companies that have qualified to bid for the runway and taxiway overlay work at Tribhuvan International Airport.

The directorate of the Tribhuvan International Airport improvement project which is overseeing the work - said the entire project cost would be borne by the civil aviation authority of Nepal but declined to mention a figure on grounds that it was a confidential matter.

The bidding process is expected to take about two-and-a-half months.

The Indian companies will face stiff competition from the Chinese. The other four competitors are Sino-Nepal joint ventures.

Unlike the Indian companies, all four have some presence in Kathmandu valley. They are China Railway Engineering Corporation partnered by Nepali Tundi Construction, China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group with Kalika Construction as its local partner, a joint venture between China Gezhouba Water and Power Group Corporation and Nepal's PS Construction, and Sinohydro Corporation with local partner Chitwon Co-Enepal.

Sinohydro Corporation hit the headlines this month when the local media reported that it had taken Nepali workers to work on a project in Oman without the permission of the Nepal government.

Over 400 Nepali workers are said to have been left stranded in Oman by the Chinese company that ran into trouble with the local authorities about the project cost.

The last time the runway and taxiway were overlaid was in 1996 when the contract went to a Chinese company, Sietco.

Source:Hindustan Times

NEPAL: Traditional water mill technology helps boost livelihoods

NEPAL: Traditional water mill technology helps boost livelihoods
05 Jul 2007 11:49:58 GMT
Source: IRIN

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

DHADING, 5 July 2007 (IRIN) - Sitting in a tiny water mill, popularly known as a 'ghatta' in Nepalese, 65-year-old farmer Ram Sharma waits for his customers to come with their wheat and maize to grind flour for a small fee.

Sharma built his 'ghatta' two years ago after he lost all his farmland and property in flash floods that devastated Dhading village in Makwanpur District, 200km east of the capital, Kathmandu.

In 2006 floods affected over 50,000 people, including tens of thousands who were made homeless. Nearly 2,000 animals were killed and over 10,000 tonnes of food were destroyed, according to the Nepalese authorities.

Life was already difficult for Sharma due to the decade-long armed conflict with Maoist rebels, which had been adversely affecting his livelihood and endangering the lives of civilians.

Sharma took out a small loan and built his 'ghatta' at a time when civilians were fleeing the villages and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were unable to provide enough assistance to impoverished villagers, he said.

All he needed was a tree trunk for the water runner, some timber to craft the turbine wheel, a stone grinder and a convenient stream.

Family fortunes on the up

Today, the 'ghatta' has changed the life of his family. "This ancient rural technology is helping my family," said Sharma happily.

Agreeing with him, Sharma's 19-year-old grandson, Ramesh, said: "We had given up all hope for our family's survival after we lost everything but all that changed due to our grandfather's knowledge about the 'ghatta'". Ramesh said his family was the first in Dhading to transform this local technology into a business.

Other low-income villagers are now also following Sharma's example and building their own 'ghattas'.

Sharma also manages to trade his flour in villages and local urban markets. He makes an additional income of nearly US$50 a month - a considerable sum in the countryside, where gross national per capita income was $22.5 a month in 2005 - according to the World Bank.

Dil Maya Tamang is another ghatta owner in nearby Basamari village where she runs a successful business and can now afford to school all her five children.

"Our lives have changed a lot thanks to the 'ghatta' which is so easy and cheap to build," said Tamang.

The technology has been used for over a century, according to local NGO Centre for Rural Technology (CRT), which has been helping to preserve and promote 'ghattas' all around the country.

"This simple rural technology is being used especially by the poorest farmers and is now becoming more popular in many remote villages, and opportunities are growing after the peace accord," said Damodar Pokhrel, a local rural technology expert.

Electricity generation

Pokhrel said there are nearly 100,000 'ghattas' all over the country but most needed to be upgraded to make them more efficient. Traditional 'ghattas' can be improved by upgrading the turbines and can be used not only for grinding food grains but also for small-scale electricity generation in villages off the national electricity grid, he added.

Efforts to improve traditional 'ghattas' were started nearly 36 years ago by Swiss engineer Andreas Bachmann who worked with Nepali small-hydro pioneers. Several local organisations and manufacturers, especially CRT, Kathmandu Metal Industries (KMI) and Nepal Yantra Shala (NYS) have followed up on the technology and improved 'ghattas' throughout the country. CRT alone has helped in the improvement of nearly 1,000 'ghattas' in over 40 districts and helped nearly 50,000 families around the country.

"The improved 'ghatta' can be very useful in electricity generation," said Nir Lama, a local community leader in Daraune Pokhri village, where he and local villagers have rebuilt their traditional mill into a multipurpose power unit (MPPU), which now helps to generate electricity in their village.

Nearly three years ago Lama raised funds among his fellow villagers to build the MPPU. Today, the improved traditional 'ghatta' helps to generate electricity and pump drinking water for nearly 100 households in the remote village.

"Improved versions have brought about positive economic and social benefits by increasing income and employment opportunities," said Shyam Pradhan, 'ghatta' expert from Yantrasala Energy, which helps build improved 'ghattas'. He said the initial investment is very small and the technology very simple.

In a country with over 80 percent of the population dependent on agriculture, the 'ghatta' is still the simplest, cheapest and most convenient way for farmers to earn a living, according to the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), a government organisation that has been actively involved in the development of traditional rural technology.

International aid agencies have also started to show active interest in supporting local NGOs to expand improved water mill programmes all over the country, according to CRT. Dutch government agency SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation) has been investing heavily in this rural technology, said CRT.


© IRIN. All rights reserved. More humanitarian news and analysis:

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Nepal 'Living Goddess' Loses Status

Nepal 'Living Goddess' Loses Status

Associated Press Writer
Published July 3, 2007, 3:26 PM CDT

KATMANDU, Nepal -- A 10-year-old Nepalese girl was stripped of her title as a living goddess because she traveled overseas to promote a documentary about the centuries-old tradition, an official said Tuesday.

Sajani Shakya had her status revoked because she broke with tradition by leaving the country, said Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses.

Sajani is among several "Kumaris," or living goddesses, in Nepal, and as one of the kingdom's top three, is forbidden from leaving the country. However, last month she went to the United States and other countries to promote a British documentary about the living goddesses of the Katmandu Valley. She is to return to Nepal this week.

"We have begun the process to search for a new Kumari," said Regmi, adding that a task force would determine suitable candidates.

Ishbel Whitaker, director of the film "Living Goddess" said she was shocked and saddened by this news and would make sure the girl's education was provided for. "The rule of not being able to leave was never a rule before.... Nobody ever said the Kumari can't travel" she said by telephone from London.

Whitaker said they filmed in Bhaktapur for a year. "We had been speaking with people we felt were authorities, and now these others are claiming they are," she said.

The film crew consulted anthropologists, the head priests of Sajani's temple and her parents, the director said. And she said the Nepalese Embassy helped arrange Sajani's trip to the U.S.

Living goddesses are worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. The girls are selected between the ages of 2 and 4 after going through several tests.

They are required to have perfect skin, hair, eyes and teeth, they shouldn't have scars or wounds, and shouldn't be afraid of the dark. They always wear red, pin up their hair in topknots and a "third eye" is painted on their forehead.

Devotees touch the girls' feet with their foreheads, the highest sign of respect among Hindus in Nepal.

During religious festivals the girls are wheeled around on a chariot pulled by devotees. Living goddesses usually keep their title until their first menstruation.

The main Kumari lives a sequestered life in a palatial temple in the capital, Katmandu. She has a few selected playmates and is allowed outside only a few times a year for festivals.

Others like Sajani are allowed to stay at home, attend regular school and take part in festivals.

The government last year announced a monthly pension of $40 for serving and retired Kumaris. Previously, the main Kumari received only a gold coin during an annual festival and the other girls received whatever was offered by devotees.

Nepalese folklore holds that men who marry a former Kumari will die young, and so many girls remain unmarried and face a life of hardship.

Critics have said the tradition violates both international and Nepalese laws on child rights. But the film director said the Kumari tradition can be modern as well.

"Sajani seemed to be a great example of how the tradition can move into the modern age," Whitaker said. She said she made the film because the living goddess tradition is beautiful and worth capturing before it disappears.

* __

Associated Press Writer Carley Petesch contributed to this article from New York.

Copyright © 2007, The Associated Press