On April 25th, 2015, a catastrophic 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. It was followed by more than 300 aftershocks and another 6.8 magnitude earthquake 17 days later. Lives and buildings alike were shattered; affecting an estimated 8 million people.
SEEDS gained special permission from the Government of India to carry out response and rehabilitation work in Nepal.
How we helped
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, people were living out in the open. The relief distribution process helped meet urgent needs. Each family kit was an integrated package that took care of the shelter, hygiene and cooking needs of a family. A few tents were also set up as emergency schools, with additional teaching materials and student kits. Having these basics in place helped families get back to a normal routine and brought about a feeling of well-being.
The initiative reached out to 636 families across 9 wards of Jhangajoli village in Sindhuli district.
2520 homes of hope
In Nepal, where many families also run stores from their homes, building back was not just a matter of shelter, but also livelihood. Rather than risking unsafe rebuilding, we worked with the most vulnerable families to create transitional shelters.
The house itself was designed keeping in mind earthquake stability and resilience; as well as local climactic conditions. The material choices including bamboo, CGI sheet, GI wire, mud and stone, are all frequently used locally. With features such as cross bracing and the very lightness of the walls themselves, it was both safe and sustainable.
The strong, highly-engineered design was then broken down into a simple step-by-step process. These easy-to-use guides meant families learned to build on their own. Trained house owners from one village then actually became the trainers for other communities. This made it easy to replicate and scale up in a rapid manner.
The building of the ‘Namaste Ghar’ as it became known locally was entirely owner driven. Multiple technical teams of carpenter, mason and supervisor operated simultaneously across to ensure construction was completed in the least possible time. The community also took the lead in monitoring through the Village Development Committee.
Four semi-permanent schools
Built in Naubise, Dhading district, the design for the four schools was a real challenge. It had to fulfil the usage needs, but also had to be feasible to build in areas with no accessibility! The team opted for a modular design with a pre-fabricated MS tubular structure with CGI roof and infill walls. This not only helped the construction to be safe, quick and cost effective, but facilitated ease of transport.
People across Naubise were grappling with the shortage of drinking water. Following the earthquake, roads had shifted and natural springs were damaged beyond repair. Two underground water reservoirs were constructed; and one even used solar filtration from the sun for purification. Labour, stone and basic raw material for construction was all provided by the communities. The improved access to water has saved families time (in walking to collect water) and money.
In Naubise, helping lift the community’s spirits also meant the need for places to gather and engage. Sitting arrangements were built at two different locations by the community. Every mason was allotted their area to explore and mould. The team took their experience with stone to the next level, showing their creativity. No two benches were alike. Today, these spaces witness smiles, laughter and togetherness like never before.
By the end of the programme 26,912 homes were rebuilt across the Gorkha district of Nepal. Apart from physical reconstruction of houses, capacity development among the men and the women, who were the recipient of the initiatives, also took place. Through strong community collaboration and socio-technical support, they were able learn skills and had an active say and stake in the reconstruction of homes, gradually witnessing a return of normalcy in their lives.
Leaving a mark
The creation of a strong multi-pronged partnership (Chaudhary Foundation – PwC – NSET – SEEDS) created efficiencies of cost and scale and lasting impact. 2520 families across 10 districts were enabled to build a safe and sustainable house. 128 children got back their schools. Over 14,000 people have additionally benefitted directly and indirectly through WASH trainings, restored water reservoirs and community sitting spaces.
The process was also a unique grassroots cooperation of construction artisans locally and across the border from Bihar. In terms of livelihood, more than 100 masons from Bihar were trained and earned a living due to the intervention.
Women were at the centre of each part of the initiative; from house building to monitoring committees to WASH rallies. For several, this marked the first time they stepped out of their communities; even convincing their families to let them serve as trainers for other villages.
Learn more about this initiative