We faced a daunting task in the remote village of Namsaling, situated in the hills of eastern Nepal. The residents of Namsaling do not have access to gas or kerosene. Until we got there, they used wood from nearby forests to cook their food and heat their houses. These forests were slowly but surely disappearing. And the villagers were ruining their own health with poorly ventilated kitchens and homes.
As a child growing up in Canada, I never had to worry about what I would eat or whether I would be warm. Now, as an engineer leading a team of Israeli students, I could make sure other people were also spared these concerns. To solve the problems in Namsaling, our team has built single family biogas digesters, which takes waste and turns it into methane gas. It was a win-win situation all around: the villagers got clean gas for cooking and heating, the forests were saved, and the residue from the digester could be used as fertilizer for farming. Best of all, my students became leaders.
Dr. Mark Talesnick established a chapter of Engineers Without Borders at the Technion in Haifa. The group’s mission is to improve the quality of life in impoverished communities and developing countries through small-scale, low-tech projects.