A Story of Poo – Your Geology Trust goes global!

What can you give to the person who has everything? Something trivial and meaningless, for example a paperweight made from dinosaur coprolite. That's poo to you. Unusual and certainly a talking point, but what can you give the person who has nothing?

Bio Gas GeneratorWe can all think of people who have everything money can buy, be they footballers or celebrities; yet it is truly humbling to meet happy people who genuinely have nothing. I was privileged earlier this year to travel to Nepal and to visit a small village on the outskirts of the Chitwan National Park. The village of Bankatta consists of 50-odd households and a population of some 300 people, mostly women. Some of the houses are constructed of brick and concrete but the majority are made of sticks with mud walls and roofed by elephant grass. The inhabitants are very welcoming and invite tourists into their homes, an experience, which is memorable to see how they cope without money or belongings.

Life is hard for those without jobs and the daily grind is a constant struggle to find food and fodder for those people who keep animals especially water buffalo. Fish can be caught in the nearby river together with small water snails, which at best are unappetising. This however is not without risk because the river is home to Mugga Crocodiles. Fodder can be found in the National Park but this is the home of many dangerous animals particularly rhinoceroses, wild pigs and many tigers. Since 1996, some 150 villagers, who live in the Park, have been killed by tigers whilst going about their daily lives gathering fodder and firewood to cook by. The smoky atmosphere inside the houses also leads to widespread asthma among children.Nepalese Village

However the villagers are able to help themselves. Nearby is a Safari Hotel, which caters for tourists from many nationalities. Girls from the village perform traditional dances several times a week and tourists are invited to travel by bullock cart to visit the village where there is a box for donations, mostly small. These donations are to a community fund, which has enabled electricity to be brought to the village. However it does cost to have it supplied and most of the small houses can only afford one light bulb.

They do have use of a simple but ingenious technology to create methane to cook by and to provide fertiliser for those villagers who have small plots of land. A small concrete toilet at the rear of the house is connected to an underground tank and the contents are discharged with animal excrement into the collector, mixed with water and allowed to produce methane, which is piped into the house to facilitate cooking. Once the contents cease to produce methane, they are removed, dried and used as fertiliser. These units have a lifespan of 25 years and are carbon neutral.

An ongoing problem for NE Geology Trust has been to have its logo known and perhaps recognised in a number of countries. Tourists from all over the world visit the Nepalese village every year. On behalf of NE Yorkshire Geology Trust, a donation was made to the village, to fund a biogas generator for one of the residents. The picture shows the result of this donation. Initially the money was donated as a test to see whether it would be used effectively. It has been and as a result a further donation has been made on behalf of the Trust to fund a further two biogas generators, which are currently under construction.

Michael Styles


NE Yorkshire Geology Trust is very grateful to Mike Styles and thanks him for his generous donation on behalf of the Trust.
Bénédicte Windle