Suresh Niraula ’10 is laboring long days in earthquake-damaged Nepal, making a difference with life-saving water filters.
In the mountainous areas of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur, Niraula is installing basic drinking-water filtration systems to combat water-borne diseases. Some people there, he said, are living under tarps and drinking river water.
“We have met several individuals living in temporary shelters with problems such as typhoid, dysentery and giardia, among others,” said Niraula. “Especially old, women and children are the most vulnerable ones in these communities.”
He is working for the North Carolina nonprofit Wine to Water and collaborating with village development committees, municipalities and other nonprofit relief organizations. In coming weeks he will expand his work to regions beyond the Kathmandu Valley.
The clock is ticking. In about three weeks the monsoon season, with its heat, humidity and heavy rains, will complicate relief efforts. The rains will increase the risk of disease spreading, particularly among newborns.
Niraula has a bachelor’s degree in environmental and technological studies (ETS) and a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Iowa. The Nepal native returned home May 4, a week after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the south Asian nation of 27 million.
River-water testing experiences with Mitch Bender, ETS professor, and an internship at the St. Cloud Water Treatment Facility have informed his relief work. Water- and wastewater-research at Iowa and two years as a technician for New Ulm-based Minnesota Valley Testing Laboratories, Inc., have also proved helpful, he said.
As relief gives way to reconstruction, Niraula said he will help build resilient homes for families. That focus is motivated by his experience in Jyamire Dada. The village’s 15 structures were still mounds of rubble on May 21, weeks after the April 25 earthquake and May 12 major aftershock.
News reports say relief efforts are limited by gridlock at the lone international airport and hampered by poor roads and lack of storage space. Niraula will leave the land of his birth behind, but his thoughts will remain with the more than 8,500 killed and 19,000 injured.
“My family members are safe, but the fear is still there,” he said.
Niraula expects to return to the United States in late July. He begins a doctoral program this fall at North Dakota State University in Fargo.