KnowledgePoint: Nepal

Developed in 2012 through the collaborative partnership of RedR UK, WaterAid, IRC Wash and Practical Action, online Q&A forum KnowledgePoint has been designed to give engineers and other humanitarian workers in the field access to free and fast expert advice.

Since being set up in 2012, KnowledgePoint has gained more than 136,274 users across 183 countries, with a network of more than 150 technical experts answering questions on topics ranging from public health to security and logistics. It was used heavily by WHO specialists during the 2014-16 West Africa Ebola crisis to share information with field staff in remote locations. It was also used by the Global Water and Sanitation Cluster in both the Haiti earthquake and the 2017 Caribbean hurricanes and as part of the response to the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Water supply in Nepal

Following the Nepal earthquake in 2015 in which 8,800 lives were lost, 22,000 people were injured and hundreds of thousands were left homeless, KnowledgePoint played a crucial role in supplying technical knowledge to humanitarian workers. As a principal engineer at Westlakes Engineering, a civil and structural engineering consultancy based in the UK, Lisa Varey used KnowledgePoint to source expert advice for a project that was she working on in response to the earthquake. The aim of the project was to build a water supply in Arguhat, a small rural community in the Gorkha region of Nepal, which had been badly affected by the earthquake. Lisa explains the need for the project:

“The community had a 400 pupil school which was completely destroyed in the earthquake. Before the earthquake, the community had a very limited water supply and there was no supply at all to the school. This project is aiming to provide water to the new school and to the 26 families in the Arughat community.”

Humanitarian workers in the field are called on to work in a wide variety of contexts, some of which may be unfamiliar. Contextual understanding is vital in order to deliver successful projects and reach those most in need. Lisa explains how she used advice from local experts on KnowledgePoint to help her design the water supply project in Nepal:

“There had been a design prepared in Nepal for the project and the funders had a query about the cost of laying a water pipe underground. I was concerned about the maintenance issues of keeping the pipe above ground and I wanted to get a second opinion and some practical, technical experience from people in the field. I received two answers to my question, one of which was from a national technical expert, who was able to give me context-specific advice based on a practical understanding of the area.”

“The information that I received gave me the confidence to go back to the funders with a recommendation about laying the pipe underground and allowed us to move forward with the project.”

Lisa Varey

KnowledgePoint user

A global network

Working in remote locations like Nepal, often with restricted access to high-speed internet can make it difficult for humanitarian workers in the field to find advice. However, a recent upgrade to the KnowledgePoint platform, funded by

Elhra’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), means that humanitarians now have access to a global network of over 150 technical experts, even in low-bandwidth conditions. KnowledgePoint experts have at least 10 years of experience in their chosen specialism and must be able to demonstrate that they are recognised within their field of expertise.

 It was the support of this network, and the context-specific advice she received that empowered Lisa to move to the next phase of the project:

“The information that I received gave me the confidence to go back to the funders with a recommendation about laying the pipe underground and allowed us to move forward with the project.”

Lisa’s decision helped to reduce the likely maintenance costs to the Arguhat community, increasing the potential life-span of the pipeline and making the project more sustainable.

Planning for the Arguhat water supply project in Nepal is now underway and the Bassenthwaite Rotary Club is in the process of raising funds to support the project, with the aim of completing the water supply by 2018.

The recent upgrade to KnowledgePoint includes improved user experience, increased data security and innovative use of gaming technology. You can see the KnowledgePoint forum at and find Lisa's post if you search for 'Rural gravity water supply in Nepal'.