Skip to main content
Civil and Construction Engineering

Addressing Interrelated Challenges of Poverty in Nepal

An interdisciplinary team seeks to understand the challenge of poverty in the brick kilns of Nepal, and finds that community members hope to improve air quality, critical infrastructure, and education.

Nepal Research Team

Students from Civil and Construction Engineering, Anthropology, Life Science, and Sociology at BYU were joined by students from Kathmandu University's Community Development program to understand the interrelated social problems connected to extreme poverty. This community analysis project is connected with a larger BYU field study project, led by faculty in the department of Public Health, who are studying the long-term effects of near-constant exposure to hazardous air (PM 2.5). The study locations are the brick kiln factories of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, where thousands live in conditions of extreme poverty.

The purpose of the project is to understand health and well-being impacts and work toward proposing sustainable interventions to improve living and working conditions. However, for solutions to be truly sustainable, it was necessary to understand a comprehensive picture of the broader community context. This approach to problem identification and solution finding is grounded in the Ballard Center's Social Impact Cycle.

Ballard Center Social Impact Cycle
Ballard Center Social Impact Cycle

The interdisciplinary team of researchers from BYU and Kathmandu University conducted a mixed-methods qualitative study to record community indicators through direct observation and over 100 participant interviews. The research team created a community-scale evaluation framework derived from the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The collective research team found that members of the brick kiln communities are concerned with an expanded set of interrelated issues (social problems - SPs), including air quality, access to critical infrastructure services, and improved education. It was also found that many of the contributing factors to these SPs are networked and shared with one another.

The following are links to research posters by BYU students that summarize elements of the research:

A deeper evaluation of specific aspects of the broader project was studied by four Kathmandu University students as their senior thesis projects. Their final reports are linked here:

With a broad knowledge of the brick kiln community context, derived from the perspectives of community members themselves, the project continues now to begin human-centered design processes to develop sustainable solutions and interventions.

All Linked SPs.png
Networked contributing factors to the social problems identified by the brick kiln community members