Griffith University student Jane Nichols is helping improve the quality of life for people in Nepal through an international research project aimed at improving rainwater collection.

Working with Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH), Jane is using her skills as an environmental engineering student to address problems faced with existing rainwater harvesting systems in local communities.

Nepal is one of the most water rich nations on the planet; however providing safe drinking water to communities is an ongoing issue. Rainwater harvesting has been used to help solve this problem but current systems can have water quality issues.

NEWAH is a non-governmental organisation that promotes hygiene and sanitation and is working towards clean drinking water for all. In the past 20 years it has completed over 1500 projects throughout the country. These projects have included the construction of water points, the development of water safety plans and school programs that educate on the importance of hygiene and sanitation.

Jane has enjoyed the experience of working with the organisation.

“It has been great to gain an understanding of how Nepal Water for Health and other local non-government organisations operate,” she says.

Through her work, Jane will investigate a variety of different water sources to identify which one provides the highest quality water. She will then focus on rain water harvesting with the goal of developing a system that eliminates all quality issues while keeping to financial and geographical constraints.

The project is co-ordinated by Engineers Without Borders (EWB), as part of an initiative to connect university students with developing countries. The aim is to promote projects like Jane’s that improve the quality of life for disadvantaged communities around the world.

EWB’s research co-ordinator, Julian O’Shea, says the program is “all about letting students get more out of their work by helping others while they do it.”

“In taking on this project Jane is helping solve problems that not only affect this community but many others like it,” he says.

Jane has found her work through the program both challenging and satisfying. “It has allowed me to increase my knowledge in the development sector and inspired me to direct my career towards water and waste water in a developing context,” she says.