Nepal was struck by a high-magnitude earthquake, causing large-scale destruction and rendering many homeless. Another earthquake struck it on May 12 leading to an adverse impact on the people and their livelihood, which is mostly agriculture. Aid poured in but political instability at the time made it hard for organizations as well as foreign government representatives to co-ordinate and distribute it efficiently and effectively. I felt helpless about what was happening in my homeland.
Nepal’s new constitution passed on September 20, 2015, added fuel to the fire as it created political upheaval among the minorities as they perceived it as lack of protection and recognition for them. It also soured relations with India. The latter retaliated with an unofficial blockade, which halted basic goods and fuel to be imported into Nepal. The reconstruction committee for the earthquake was suspended with the advent of the new constitution. With all the political happenings, it seemed the country’s government had forgotten about the earthquake victims.
I decided I must do something. I am enrolled in the dual degree BBA-BIR (Business and International Relations) at IE University in Madrid. With the support of IE University and my classmates, I started raising funds for Nepal. Within a fortnight, we raised around 6,728 euros. Also, we collaborated with different local organisations in Nepal to allocate the funds efficiently. I visited my country in summer to get a first-hand experience of the aftermath of the earthquake and to oversee fundraising.
But we realised we needed to do more than simply raise funds. So, we came up with a sustainable and cheap model of farming based on aquaponics, which requires less effort, less water, no soil. We believe that trade is a better form of aid, as well as a long-term solution for recovery. On the farm, food is grown with nutrients from fish waste and soil is not needed. This is an important factor since one cannot grow crops in many areas in Nepal because the soil is not fertile. The system functions in a way that the water is recycled within the farm so it uses 90% less water than traditional farms. It takes 20 minutes to be set up. After two months of maintenance and sowing the seeds, it can provide enough food to sustain a family of four. Right now, through the prototype, we are measuring its exact yield. While it is designed to provide quick sustenance for earthquake victims, it can be modified for use in households or business.
My team comprises five students from around the world— six nationalities who have lived in more than eight countries between us. We want to come up with a solution that will contribute towards providing food security to the less advantaged.