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Safe drinking water can be a privilege

Last autumn, Kemira sponsored a trip of twelve water and environmental engineering students from Aalto University, who traveled to Nepal to get to know the local practicalities in water and wastewater management. Master thesis worker Katriina Rajala was one of them. During the trip, she learned to appreciate clean drinking water even more than before.

Safe drinking water can be a privilege

During the ten days, the students had altogether seven excursion destinations in three cities in the Himalaya region. In the city of Pokhara, the group organized a participatory presentation about water hygiene with the people from the Children Nepal organization.

“It was eye-opening to see how the water treatment is handled in a developing country such as Nepal. In Finland, we focus on environmental issues when improving the wastewater systems. In Nepal, that still seemed far away, as the hygiene and health issues were a priority. Nepal is still home for 29 million people so by improving the water hygiene you can really make a big difference there”, Rajala tells.

Discharging sludge into the nearby river

The group also visited a drinking water treatment plant in Kathmandu. There the water purification was handled in a still rather elementary way.

“The system was open unlike in Finland and so the water could easily get contaminated, which threatens the health of the people drinking it. The chlorine amounts were neither followed, and that can also cause health problems if the dose is too high or too low. Discharging sludge into the river also endangers the organisms in the river by exposing them to aluminum”, Rajala describes.

During the trip, Rajala was also constantly reminded that a safe working environment should not be taken for granted.

“Construction workers were working on top of buildings without any safety equipment, waste recyclers didn’t have any gloves or proper shoes and many did welding without safety goggles or protective clothing. I am grateful I can work in a safe environment where even close calls are taken seriously”, Rajala tells.

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