Rebuilding the water mill in Manigaun, Nepal | ActionAid UK

The water mill in the town of Manigaun was destroyed during one of the earthquakes to hit Nepal earlier this year. The building in which the grinding stones worked collapsed and the channels which brought water to turn the stones were broken. Now, three months later I was able to watch as the heavy granite stones turned again for the first time.

Hiranya and her husband have been millers in the village for 37 years.
Hiranya and her husband have been millers in the village for 37 years.

Manigaun was heavily hit by the earthquake. Eleven people died here and most houses were damaged, many completely destroyed. The traditional building construction method using stone and mud could not resist the violent shaking and walls came tumbling down.

The husband and wife team of Chandra and Hiranya run the mill. Grandparents now, they've been Manigaun's millers for 37 years. With the mill out of action, not only have they been without an income, but the women of the village have either had to grind their grains into flour by hand or walk for hours across the hills to another village.

While the mill was out of action, local women had to grind their grains by hand or walk for hours to another village.

Fixing the mill

We've helped Chandra and Hiranya by providing a shelter kit. Our building supplies and engineers' skills have helped repair the water channels and put up a new structure to protect the mill and the people who use it. 

When we arrived, Himaya was working hard to smooth the plaster of the basin where the flour is deposited. Shortly afterwards the heavy rotating grindstone was dropped into place. Chandra dropped a wooden lever to lower the driving wheel into the fast flowing waters below. Slowly at first the stones juddered into motion, but soon, with a bit of a push to get it going, it was spinning fast.  A handful of corn was dropped in the centre of the wheel and moments later a fine flour started to spit out from at the side.  

There's few more small jobs to do to complete the repairs, but within a day or two Manigaun will have its mill back again.

We've helped Chandra by providing a shelter kit and building supplies and expertise to repair the mill.

Our work in the wider community

Rebuilding the mill is important to the community here, but it's not the only thing we've been doing to helping people in Manigaun and other villages in the district of Rasuwa since the earthquake. Firstly, we provided food and essential household items to replace goods lost when homes were destroyed.

More recently, with the monsoon season approaching, we've been helping families construct temporary homes, providing packages of tools, roofing materials and cash to a thousand families made homeless by the quake. We've also provided a construction engineer to work with families and local builders to ensure that the new buildings are of a good standard and safe from any future earth tremors. And we've supported the community to build a temporary school building to replace the one they lost.

We will be sharing more updates about how we're helping communities in Nepal over the coming weeks.

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