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Safe Drinking Water: A Winning Situation for All

The workers at Mahashakti Brick Kiln in Jagate Bhaktapur were getting sick. Every day a few would fail to come to work. The owner, Krishna Prasad Duwal was feeling anxious. His business was suffering, he was losing money. He did not know what to do.

MinErgy Pvt Ltd Best PracticesFinally he turned to MinErgy Pvt. Ltd. that was already working with the people in the kiln and construction sector on safe drinking water. After some research, the team found out that the untreated water the workers were drinking was causing them to fall sick frequently. Most of them were suffering from water borne diseases like diarrhea and jaundice. MinErgy held awareness programs in the kiln on the need for and importance of safe drinking water. It took time to convince the workers to change their habit of drinking untreated water as they were unaware that all clean water is not fit for drinking.

Social mobilizers from MinErgy demonstrated in front of the workers at the brick kiln with a H2S vial containing a chemical that shows whether the water is contaminated. If it is contaminated with coliform bacteria, then the color turns black. When the workers saw the color changing with their own eyes they finally realized that the water they were drinking was not good. Once they were convinced it didn't take them long to ask for water filters. A total of 30 families were provided with the household filter including the kiln owner. There was a dramatic decrease in absenteeism of the workers, fewer illnesses were reported.

This prompted Krishna Prasad Duwal to ask MinErgy to help install a central water filtration system (bio sand filter) to purify the water they were drinking in the kiln premises for the 350 workers. The system can purify 350 litres of water per hour. The water is also treated frequently with clorine. The total cost of the whole process was Rs. 1500,000.

There are hardly any water borne diseases in the kiln now. A lot of time is saved as the workers don't have to go far to fetch water. The productivity of the workers has increased and the owner is a happy person, who encourages other entrepreneurs to follow his example.
Making Bricks the Innovative Way

Innovative Machinery was born in 22 August 2011 to address the need of limitations in the brick kiln sector. Labor scarcity, harsh working conditions, poor quality of bricks, slow supply led a team of technical experts with years of experience in their fields to come up with the idea of establishing the company. Brick manufacturing machines designed in various countries like Pakistan, India, China and Vietnam were observed. Aspects that suited the requirements of Nepal were incorporated while making the machines for the country. It took almost three years of research, trials and effort for the team to bring the machine to the market. The reception is good and orders are coming in for more. This innovative idea can revolutionalize the way bricks are manufactured in Nepal.

The team involved in the research come from different technical backgrounds and are experts in their fields. One such person is Ramesh Chaudhary, who was born with the gift of understanding the concept of machine technology. He says the idea to build a machine that would produce good bricks was started from 2010. A link was established with MinErgy, the company in the consortium of Innovative Machineries.

Though Ramesh had never worked in the brick sector before he was eager to try it out when he saw the enthusiasm of the rest of the team members. Machines were studied from many countries, before a prototype was made, which is different than the others. It is cheaper with low investment. Investors in Nepal are unable to spend huge amounts of money so the machine has to suit them, which means some compromises were made in the design. The team had to rethink, reassemble the design many times, which was a big challenge. It took them almost two and half years to study and design the machine. They spent almost Rs. 3,000,000 in its construction as they kept on improving it.

The machine takes almost two to three months to make. The price of the machine is Rs. 2,500,000. Till now they have made five machines, of which two are already in the market. One is being used by Shree Satya Narayan Itta Udhyog Pvt. Ltd. in Imadol, Lalitpur. The company trains the people handling the machine for two weeks. Maintenance and technical support is free for one year.

Innovative Machinery is fortunate to have Ramesh Chaudhary in their team. He has won multiple awards, both national and international, in designing and producing various machines like planes, wind powered lights, water pump, robots.

Ramesh was born in Pipra, Bara and did his SLC from a local school. He went to study science in Thakur Ram Campus in Birgunj but did not complete it. He then went to Pokhara and joined Engineering campus to train as an overseer. He says that his brother who had gone to Russia for mechanical engineering was his inspiration. His quest for education brought him to Kathmandu, where he joined the Engineering Campus both as a teacher and a student. He now leads a group of highly innovative people who are always searching for new technologies and innovations.
Rat Trap Bond Technology: Building with Innovation

A chance meeting with Sulochana Shah, Chairperson of an NGO Hoste Hainste, gave birth to a fruitful partnership between Minergy Initiative and the NGO to use a new building technology, rat trap bond, in a school building being constructed in Sarlahi. This three storey building has become a sort of a landmark in the district, with people coming to see it for its innovative design.

Rat trap bond walling technology is a kind of technology that uses 35% less bricks and 50% less mortar than the more commonly used English bond. It uses approximately 130 MJ/m2 less energy and 30 kg/m2 less CO2 than the English bond.

Ms Shah was interested in the technology when she saw the demonstration. She talked to MinErgy officials about a possible partnership for a new school building that was being constructed in Sarlahi. MinErgy made a presentation about various energy efficient construction technologies including the rat trap bond technology shortly after the meeting. Everyone showed interest in these technologies, and work was started. The usual building construction practice in the area is the ordinary English bond walling constructed in the regular and normal traditional way with no earthquake safety or any other modern features.

A team from MinErgy went to the site to conduct a feasibility study for the various energy efficient construction technologies such as the RTB, concrete hollow block walls, micro concrete tile roofing and ferrocement concrete channel roofing, concrete door and window frame roofing. They found that rat trap bond technology and concrete door and window frames were most feasible in the area. In fact the insulation from rat trap bond was perfect for the kind of weather in Sarlahi. Rat trap bond was cheaper by 20% than the cost of the traditional walling technology whereas concrete door and window frames were cheaper by almost 40% as compared to wooden frames. The materials were available locally making the construction cost effective. A civil engineer and an expert mason trained the local masons on the RTB technology, and these local masons constructed the whole building. The school building is a kind of a landmark for its innovative design, because it is different from the rest of the buildings in that area. The earthquake resilient band is incorporated from the outside in the walling design. This provides not only structural safety but is educational in itself for the locals, most of them who have no idea of the significance of these bands are now inquiring after this innovative pattern for the building and now know why it is there.

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