Appropriate Technology Asia

The Problem

Although mountains are often visualised as abundant in snow cover and criss-crossed with streams and rivers, in many parts of the great Himalayan ranges, and the high altitude plateaus that lie to the north of them, the climate is much more akin to a desert.

The reason for this is simple, the mountain ranges cause a 'rain-shadow' effect whereby moisture-heavy clouds are forced upwards and cooled, causing them to deposit most of their rain on the southern faces of the mountains. On the plateaus and river valleys that lie to the north of these barriers, rainfall can be as little as 50mm per year. Coupled with the shrinkage of glaciers and shifting rainfall patterns, many altitude communities live with extreme water shortages on a year-round basis.

In many areas, the nearest water source is often nothing more than a seasonal spring-seep, often many kilometres from the village and up precipitous mountain paths, necessitating many hours a day (spent mostly by the women) on the collection of water for drinking, cooking and washing.