June 2023

Unleashing the Power of Citizen Science: S4W-Nepal’s Monsoon Expedition Experience Through the Eyes of a Passionate Participant – Somy Bhattarai

An effective water monitoring practice, achieved through the application of effective research, can lead us to sustainable water resource management. In developing countries like Nepal, water resources are vulnerable in terms of quality and quantity, and there is a lack of efficient plans and policies for monitoring to support sustainable water resource management practices. To address this issue, Smartphones For Water Nepal (S4W-Nepal) has mobilized citizen scientists (CS), mobile technology, and young researchers in the Kathmandu Valley and other parts of the country to collect hydro-meteorological data, enhance understanding of water resources through research, and support wise water management decisions S4W-Nepal has successfully involved more than 600 citizen scientists from 2018 to 2022 in the Kathmandu Valley, focusing on rainfall, groundwater, and stone spout measurement. One active participant in this project is Ms. Somy Bhattarai, who has shared her experiences and learnings as a citizen scientist of S4W-Nepal.

Figure 1: S4W-Nepal Admin Officer Mr. Umesh Sejwal providing S4W rain gauge to Ms. Somy Bhattarai

Somy Bhattarai is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Environmental Science at the Central Department of Environmental Science (CDES), Tribhuvan University. Originally from Biratamod, Jhapa, she currently resides in Kirtpur while pursuing her master’s degree. As the eldest sibling in her family, she will be the first to graduate. Somy has a keen interest in entertainment and acquiring knowledge. She enjoys activities such as watching movies, reading new research articles, and exploring social media platforms to gain valuable insights and find relaxation. Her typical day involves attending classes at the university and completing assignments. Additionally, she had the opportunity to intern for 15 days at S4W-Nepal, where she gained knowledge in hydrological data analysis using various software tools like ArcGIS and Python, among others, as part of her master’s curriculum.

Figure 2: Ms. Somy Bhattarai, awarded the title of Citizen Scientist of the Year, poses with the token of appreciation.

Somy learned about S4W-Nepal and its Monsoon Expedition through the organization’s Facebook page. The ongoing research conducted by S4W-Nepal and its significant contribution to water resources management greatly impressed her. As a result, she became eager to participate in the Monsoon Expedition of S4W-Nepal as a Citizen Scientist. In 2022, S4W-Nepal organized an outreach program at CDES, Tribhuvan University, and Somy seized this opportunity to actively engage as a citizen scientist. She proved to be one of the most active participants, even continuing rainfall monitoring after the completion of the Monsoon Expedition. Using a cost-effective soda bottle rain gauge and an Android mobile application called Open Data Kit (ODK) Collect, she measures daily rainfall. She was amazed by the convenience offered by the ODK Collect application and its quality features, such as recording date, time, high-quality photos, videos, accurate location tracking, and offline functionality. She also commended S4W-Nepal for their creative approach in repurposing soda bottles as rain gauges, highlighting their contribution to environmental sustainability.

As an Environmental Science student, Somy understands the significance of precise and accurate spatial and temporal rainfall data, especially in data-scarce countries like Nepal. She realizes that individual efforts in collecting rainfall data can yield valuable data and insights, which fills her with a sense of positivity as a citizen scientist. Being a citizen scientist keeps her informed about the data and outcomes of rainfall scenarios that are gathered and shared by S4W-Nepal, which further motivates her. Additionally, the stories of other citizen scientists and the recognition they receive such as Citizen Scientist of the Month and Year awards, have incredibly inspired her. In her interview, she expressed her joy at being awarded the Citizen Scientist of the Year 2022, which serves as a strong motivation for her to continue taking regular measurements.

Furthermore, she deeply appreciates S4W-Nepal’s citizen science approach in generating hydro-meteorological data in Kathmandu Valley and some other parts of the country. She is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of S4W-Nepal’s monsoon expedition as a citizen scientist and for enabling her to contribute to a greater cause. She encouraged her fellow citizen scientists to collect the data actively and honestly, emphasizing the significant impact that can be achieved through their small actions. Moreover, she recommended S4W-Nepal to expand such campaigns all over Nepal including rural areas.

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Welcome and Farewell Ceremony 2023

On 5 June 2023, Smartphones For Water-Nepal (S4W-Nepal) organized a welcome and farewell program to commemorate the arrival of its new CEO, Dr. Sanjiv Neupane, and bid farewell to the former CEO, Dr. Bijay Man Shakya. The event took place at S4W-Nepal main office, Thasikhel, Lalitpur, where research staff and S4W Global Ambassador Mr. Rajaram Prajapati, gathered to celebrate the transition and express gratitude to Dr. Shakya for his valuable contributions.
The program began with a warm welcome address by the Research Associate at S4W-Nepal; Mr. Sudeep Duwal, acknowledging the achievements and leadership of Dr. Bijay Man Shakya during his tenure. He expressed his deep appreciation for his visionary guidance, which resulted in the company’s significant growth and success. Another Research Associate at S4W-Nepal; Mr. Hanik Lakhe gives a brief presentation on the introduction of S4W-Nepal highlighting the importance of the citizen science approach in research, especially in data-constrained countries like Nepal.

Figure 1: S4W Global Ambassador Mr. Rajaram Prajapati presents Certificate of Appreciation to outgoing CEO Dr. Bijay Man Shakya

The presentation was followed by the presentation of a token of appreciation to the outgoing CEO; Dr. Bijay Man Shakya by the country ambassador Mr. Rajaram Prajapati. Dr. Shakya also shared his reflections on his time as CEO and expressed his confidence in Dr. Sanjiv Neupane’s abilities to lead the company to new heights.

Figure 2: A Warm Welcome to our New CEO Dr. Sanjiv Neupane, as the S4W Ambassador Mr. Rajaram Prajapati Extends a Token of Love

Following the farewell remarks, the attention shifted to welcoming Dr. Sanjiv Neupane as the new CEO. The Global Ambassador presented a token of love to the new CEO. The event proceeds with a formal handover ceremony, where Dr. Bijay Man Shakya symbolically passes on the baton of leadership to Dr. Sanjiv Neupane. Dr. Neupane delivered a speech expressing his excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to lead the company. He emphasized his commitment to building upon the organization’s achievements and fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and employee growth.

Following the words of commitment by the new CEO, Research staff at S4W-Nepal came forward to share their experiences working under Dr. Shakya’s leadership and their hopes for the future under Dr. Neupane’s guidance.

Figure 3: Special guest, S4W Global Ambassador, Mr. Rajaram Prajapati’s memorable remarks

The climax of the event arrived with the concluding remarks by Mr. Rajaram Prajapati, the esteemed Global Ambassador. He commended the achievements of Dr. Shakya and praised his exemplary leadership, which contributed significantly to the company’s success. Mr. Prajapati expressed his confidence in Dr. Neupane’s abilities to continue the company’s growth and strengthen its position in the industry. He encouraged the employees to support the new CEO and work collectively towards achieving new milestones.

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