Community Based Rainfall Measurement: My Journey

Sangita Ghising
Sangita Ghising

Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. We often hear the news of disasters such as flood, landslide, storms, soil erosion and avalanche killing numbers of people damaging properties worth of thousands of rupees. A report based on National Adaption Programme of Action 2010 mentioned that out of 75 districts 29 districts are highly vulnerable to natural hazards, 22 districts to drought, 12 districts to glacial lake outburst floods and 9 districts to flooding. The data shows that the trend of temperature from 1975 to 2005 is rising by 0.06 degree Celsius whereas the mean rainfall has significantly decreased by 3.2%. This is an early alarm to climate change. However, without proper data, it is yet hard to attribute climatic events to climate change impacts. In Nepal, there are more than 300 functional meteorological stations set by the department of hydrology and meteorology that generates data related to temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind speed and direction. The database is still not sufficient to forecast weather so that timely early warning could be provided.

Citizen Science Program

I still remember when I was a child, it used to rain all day long in one of the small villages of Ramechhap District. We used to go to the jungle to fetch fodder and come home getting all our clothes soaked with mud and water. During the time of “Dhanropai”, the drizzles that hit our body and the happiness in our face were so mesmerizing. In the past 10 years, I have never thought that such a beautiful place would change completely into a desert-like an environment where rainfall is minimal and it would be enlisted in Nepal’s most vulnerable district. The Community Based Rainfall Measurement Nepal in a joint activity of ISET-Nepal and RECHAM consult Pvt ltd. The program aimed to train the students and teachers to install rain gauges and measure rainfall data as well as utilize the rainfall data to provide weather and climate knowledge in their respective schools. This program installed a rain gauge in Dahoo Higher Secondary School which lies in Sunapati Gaupalika of Ramechhap District and other two more stations were established in Ramechhap District where the students daily monitor rainfall. Likewise, the program has installed about 26 rain gauges in the schools of Kathmandu valley and Kavre District as well. Totally we have expanded our network in four main districts and aim to expand broadly in the coming future.


The program has enabled me to explore different places and meet different people. I have now understood the techniques that are used data collection, monitoring, management, and data analysis. Apart from these, I have also learned some useful lessons from each and every people I have interacted with throughout my journey with CORAM.  The major lesson I have learned from this journey is that “It is easy to initiate something but really challenging to continue”. There were many ups and downs. Some schools were positive towards the program while others ignored. The positive response was because of their interest to carry on this work for the sake of their school, community, and country. The program in fact created a platform for the students and teachers to enrich their knowledge and understanding of weather and climatic condition. The negative response might be because of the lack of interest of the schools who sought non-monitory or monitory incentives.

From my experiences, what I would like to suggest is, if we want a proper and reliable database, a survey of schools should be done mandatorily. Only schools who are interested in the program should be selected before actually installing rain gauge. Selecting random schools, installing rain gauge might be one way to generate data but the unreliability of these data is also a question. To get a reliable database with the fulfillment of the goal of this program, we should focus on understanding the incentive structure that the particular school is interested in. As there is a famous proverb, if you have a strong foundation then you can build or rebuild anything on it.