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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
Wi-fi lifeline for Nepal's farmers
Yak farmer with his animals
The yaks are two days' walk from the village
Yak farmers in the mountains of Nepal are using wireless internet technology to keep in touch with their families.

They are taking advantage of a wi-fi network set up in a remote region of the mountain kingdom where there are no phones or other means of communication.

It is the result of a campaign led by local teacher Mahabir Pun, and backed by volunteers and donations, to bring the internet to an isolated part of the world.

So far, the Nepal Wireless Networking project has hooked up five villages in the area using wireless technology.

Online chat

"Yak farmers are using the network to buy and sell livestock, and exchange vetinerary tips," said Mr Pun.

Wi-fi aerial in Nepal
Aerials bounce the net signal to the villages
"From the village where I live, the yak farm is two days' walk away, so that was one of the reasons why I thought about using wireless technology," he told the BBC programme Go Digital.

"After we had the network, we could talk to the people taking care of the yak and ask them if they had problems, for example if they needed medicine or food or if they had any messages for their families.

"They can send message via e-mail and also they can do it through NetMeeting video conferencing software, so they can also talk."

The project was featured in a BBC News Online article in 2001, at a time when Mr Pun was struggling to get the initiative off the ground.

The article prompted a big response from readers, with offers of aid and advice.

Through donations of second-hand equipment and visits by volunteers, Mr Pun was able to turn his vision of a networked Nepal into reality.

Teaching hopes

Three years later, the villages of Nangi, Paudwar, Ghara, Tikot, and Sikha are connected to the world via the web.

Mahabir Pun
Mahabir Pun wants to used the network in schools
"Villagers are using it to send messages between the villages and to the outside world," said Mr Pun, "and they are putting online things they have to sell."

"It is very useful and exciting also, as no means of communication exists in the rural areas of Nepal right now because of the fighting."

Mr Pun said they were now looking at ways of using the wi-fi network for distance learning as there is a shortage of qualified teachers in the area.

"We are trying to find ways of doing live teaching from one school by one teacher to several schools at the same time," he said.

"If we could do that, it would be very helpful."

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22 Oct 01  |  Science/Nature
UN urges wi-fi for all
27 Jun 03  |  Technology
Praise for 'inspirational' web pioneer
23 Oct 01  |  Science/Nature
Wireless web reaches into paradise
18 May 04  |  Technology
Is wi-fi good for developing nations?
27 Jun 03  |  Technology
Country profile: Nepal
07 May 04  |  Country profiles

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