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Interview with an eminent web developer of the Social organizations
Interview With Nepalnet

Som Rai
Som Rai, a graduate in sociology and political science, came to Kathmandu from a remote village in Bhojpur. He did not have any formal IT education or training. He came across the computer while working in GEFONT, a trade union center as its Publication and Education Officer. His first exposure to the Internet and web technology was during infancy of the Internet in 1996. He got that opportunity while participating a training program in International Training Center of ILO in Turin, Italy. As a self-learned web designer, he developed and launched GEFONT Website in 1997, which also happens to be the first Trade Union website in the South Asia.

He joined CWIN in 1998 as its Publication Officer. Later that year he developed and launched the CWIN website. In 2001, he quit his job at CWIN to start to work as freelance Web Designer. Since then, he has designed more than two dozen websites for INGOs, NGOs and social organizations.

During last month I had chance to interview him. In the interview, he talked about his experience in web development. Please email any comments at

When did the work on the CWIN website started? What was the initial Purpose of the website? Has it change since then?

Som Rai :

It was since the 1998, I was working in CWIN as its Programme Officer and Editor of 'Balsarokar', Nepali monthly magazine focused on Children issue. Before joining CWIN, I had created a very simple website for General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT). In the basis of that experience, I initiated to create a Website for CWIN. Though it was not my assigned job at CWIN, I started to design website and launched it under the Mercantile's domain South Asia .Com. Some of my co-workers, particularly Ms. Rupa Dhital and Ms. Sumnima Tuladhar fully supported me to writing and editing the content. Then I started to play with the website myself and learned more idea about designing and managing the website. However, it was one of the pioneer website of non-profit social organizations in Nepal.

The initial purpose of CWIN website was to publicize CWIN's activities, share experiences and make available online children related information to strengthen advocacy work for Rights of the Child in Nepal. Following the same purpose, it has been re-structured and redesigned many times to give it a proper look and shape as per new leanings by self practice.

Who are responsible for the creating and maintaining the CWIN website?


Since I left my full time job at CWIN in 2001, I have been maintaining this website as a freelancer with a tiny team from CWIN. Basically Ms. Sumnima Tuladhar, the coordinator of CWIN Resource and Information Centre and me are responsible for maintaining this site.

We noticed the website is multilingual. What are challenges of Creating and maintaining the multilingual website?


Currently, CWIN website is in English accompanied by Nepali, German and French version. However, there is no integrated and automated multilingual system applied in order to administrate this 'multi-lingual website' yet. In fact, versions other than English and Nepali were developed with the contribution of foreign volunteers and well-wishers. Basically, there is no problem to run bi-lingual (English and Nepali) website. But, in the case of other foreign language, there is no perfect solution we found yet. So far as CWIN experience, it has been possible in that extent, how much we are able to motivate volunteers to continue their contribution on manual translating the contents. Otherwise, in my opinion, we have to wait for an error free language translating technology or software to be able to run a perfect Multilanguage website.

What are challenges you are facing to maintain and develop the website? How are you dealing with the challenges?


Running a website for an organization is not only a technical matter. In fact, maintaining or keeping it up-to-date is more crucial task than to design it. People are not paying proper attention towards this fact. Though organizations are running their websites, but they still haven't taken it as an important agenda within the organizational frame work. They are not allocating enough human and financial resources for this purpose.

Personally, I am working on websites as a distance or telework. People can't see me while I am working on my desk, so they can't feel my sorrow and frustration directly. Usually, people think that, a webmaster's job is very luxurious and too technical. But in my opinion, it is also a knowledge work and seeks both physical and mental patience.

Unlike a dedicated full-time webmaster, I am looking after number of websites for many NGOs and INGOs including CWIN, have been just my 'late night job' or 'side job' at my home. So, it's definitely a challenge for me to maintain a website perfectly.

However, situation is slightly getting better. People are now realizing how a website can play a vital role and be supportive to achieve organizational goals and mission.

Are there any plans for major future changes for the website?


Currently, there is no proper plan for structural changes of CWIN Website. Decision will be taken after the yearly review meeting with organizational authority which will take place at the end of the year.

Any suggestions you want to give to other organizations on the pros
And cons of creating and maintaining an organizational website?


We have to realize that, an organizational website is, of course, more than an electronic version of a printed brochure. Creating and launching a website is just a beginning. There should be a proper planning for maintaining it. It is, definitely, insufficient to assign a technical hand, unless it is incorporated into the organizational structure and taken it as a core agenda. A functional web operation team comprises at least one person having up-to-date and authentic knowledge regarding organizational policies and strategic priorities along with other technical hands.

A website can substitute or strengthen the public relation, publication, resource information management and campaigning work of an organization. Having and not having website for an organization is a drastically different state.


His major web projects are:

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