Project Description

“Access for Opportunities” Practical Action NGO

The NGO known as Practical Action received a Development Cooperation Prize from the Fundación José Entrecanales Ibarra for its project connecting 24 isolated villages in Nepal, which bore the title “Access for Opportunities”, and got started in February 2007. The objective of the project was to “improve the socio-economic conditions of this area by maximizing the benefits of the available services through an increase in social and economic interactions between communities that will enable their residents to raise and diversify their incomes”.

Project: Construction of a total of 19 telpherages distributed over four Nepalese districts. Eleven of these telpher lines are called gravity telpherages, and they operate when there is a steep slope between terminal stations. The mechanism is simple: the car at the upper station is loaded and, when it descends by gravity, it drags the traction cable, which in turn pulls up the car at the lower station, which is less heavily loaded. This ingenious system needs no external power supply to move the cars; rather, the pulling force is generated simply by the weight loaded into the upper car when it descends along the cable.

Gravity telpherages enable the residents who live in high areas to transport their merchandise, above all farm products, to the lower station, which is beside a transportation route that is more accessible for buyers and for transport to the area’s markets.
The average length of these telpher lines is roughly 800 metres, operating over drops of up to 400 metres.

The other eight telpherage trains that were built are called horizontal telpherages, locally known as tuin. Since the two stations joined by these lines are on the same level, there is no slope to generate the pulling force. For this reason, that force must be provided by the passengers, who pull the cable. These trains are frequently used by children to get to school, in which case the traction can be produced by an adult pulling on the cable from either of the terminal stations.

The tuins, whose length is around 300 metres, are adapted for transporting people, crossing deep valleys and fast-flowing rivers, avoiding detours requiring hours of walking to reach a bridge.

Like all cooperation projects, making this one effective has entailed training the local people to maintain the facilities, and the responsibility for their upkeep has been given to the local communities.

This project accounts for 40% of a larger EU project of which it is a part.

Budget: €389,189

Time frame: 24 months

Impact: It is estimated that the population benefiting from these 19 telpherages exceeds 8,000 people who live in 24 isolated communities in the high areas. They practice subsistence farming, and their improved mobility enables them to access the basic services of health, education and markets to sell their products.