Broadening the horizons for women researchers in Nepal

10 Jan 2022

WoGIT testimonial 2

This piece is part of a series of reflective blogs written by women from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan who attended SERVIR-HKH’s trainings on GIT specifically for women. A larger piece on the trainings can be found here.

Coming from rural Nepal with rudimentary educational facilities, I have had limited exposure to Earth observation (EO) and geospatial information technology (GIT), even though my graduate research involved using geographic information system (GIS) tools. As a freelance Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultant, I have always wanted to brush up and deepen my knowledge and skills in EO/GIT, and the “Empowering women in GIT” training provided just that opportunity. I attended the training along with 48 other young women from different academic backgrounds and different organizations from across Nepal.

The training exposed us to concepts on vector, raster data exploration, visualization, and analysis using open-source QGIS software. It also introduced us to the Regional Database System (RDS) and SERVIR-HKH services and tools – HIWAT, Streamflow Prediction Tool, National Agricultural Drought Watch – built on the Tethys platform. I learned how to access and download open-source satellite data from open data portals. The SERVIR-HKH services and tools introduced at the training were completely new concepts but a very welcome introduction for me, as these helped me in finding information relevant to my field of interest.

Landslide vulnerability map
Landslide vulnerability map for Sinja Rural Municipality in Jumla district, Nepal (Credit: Rama Ghimire)

I really appreciated the trainers’ humble, polite, and friendly demeanour. Initially, I was nervous about having to communicate in English in public at my first training with ICIMOD. However, language was never a barrier during the training, and I felt very comfortable working with peers in the online environment.

As a married woman, I did face some challenges in juggling training sessions and household chores; there were also issues with power and internet instability. However, the recorded sessions provided after each day session were helpful to catch up on missed sessions.

This training has helped me grow professionally. Utilizing data, tools, and skills from the training, I was able to prepare climate hazard and vulnerability maps for rural municipalities – Sinja, Khadachakra, Kankasundari, and Gadhawa – of Nepal. I will be able to use these tools for the preparation of Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) and EIA reports; analysis of socioeconomic data such as population density, mortality rates, and literacy rates; analysis of glacial lakes, their future possibility of outbursts, and risks to nearby settlements; and COVID-19 risk maps for different provinces in Nepal.

I believe that this training has broadened the horizons for individuals like me who want to explore creative applications of EO and GIT. It also helped me in overcoming my apprehensions about communicating in English and public speaking. This training has inspired me to pursue a PhD focusing on glacial lakes using GIS and RS tools. I believe that by developing women-focused programming and guiding young women in research, organizations like ICIMOD can encourage more women to take up and use EO and GIT in their professions and help bring different perspectives and focus areas to mainstream research.

Flood vulnerability map
Flood vulnerability map for Kankasundari Rural Municipality in Jumla district, Nepal (Credit: Rama Ghimire)


Rama Ghimire

Rama Ghimire