Nepal: How to rebuild the homes?

Outlining the evolution of programs for long term sustainable housing in post-earthquake Nepal- this week's blog discusses model villages.

How to rebuild the homes?…This is a question that everyone is directly and indirectly asking and meeting to answer.

The Nepalese government is open to ‘awarding’ different rural Village Development Committee’s (government demarcated administrative centers in rural areas) to international and locally socially impactful groups of people for the purpose of rebuilding schools and clinics.

The vibe at UN Cluster meetings is a less-than-inspiringly facilitated situation with professionals with plenty of resources and few rural village sea legs. I sit in the back of this long table Wednesday meeting, wondering how many organizations built any homes prior to April 25 2015?

Now so many are crammed into this country’s capital city, selecting districts, appealing for funds and running around in gassed up SUVs. So much money will pour into this mountain paradise of a country- 4.4 billion USD pledged as of yesterday from mainly China and India.

Temporary home prototype at a University Engineering Event, at Powlchok Engineering Campus, Kathmandu.

Temporary home prototypes at a University Engineering Event, at Powlchok Engineering Campus, Kathmandu.

But who will rebuild all the houses?

This question keeps planners up at night, while those whom they’re planning for are asleep under tarps, makeshift shelters and whatever else members of the family were able to throw together given their home fell down and the rains are here.

I think the answer is that while resources and support will be available to international donor, socially acceptable districts- the vast majority of rural home reconstruction will be carried out by individuals themselves.

The universe has thrown a learning curve to the most versatile demographic in Nepal, self made farmers are going to have to rebuild their own homes to the extent and capacity with which they are able to, with or without support from the government or anyone else.

Citizens seeing model home options for rebuilding at the Powlchok Engineering Campus, Kathmandu.

Citizens seeing model home options for rebuilding at the Powlchok Engineering Campus, Kathmandu.

How do I support the education necessary for rural farmers to build earthquake safe homes? The best idea I’ve considered in the relatively short amount of time since the earthquake has been a concept developed by Nepal’s Adobe & Bamboo Research Institute.

Their Model Village is a metaphor for a training center led vocational revolution whereby Owner Driven Reconstruction is made possible. Imagine this: Community members in a village of 30 homes are all waiting for a slew of different factors to begin rebuilding their home.

The most likely reasons are that they don’t have enough savings to purchase all the materials for a new house, they aren’t builders themselves so they would have to contract labor for construction and most likely some are awaiting the verdict of government subsidies for homeowners that may support their finances.

Having a tool-stocked workshop with frequent carpentry, masonry and bamboo harvesting seminars at the same location where your family engages in microfinance opportunities would be really helpful in rural Nepali villages right now!

Final draft of a model village.

Final draft of a model village diagram.

A one-stop shop for all aspects of rebuilding, with a farmed bamboo forest within walking distance that keep plants for future harvests and builds.

The only way to scale a solution to the housing shortage in Nepal after the earthquake is to have the sobering reality sink in that each family will be tested in their ability to learn to build their own home with the support of resource centers.

Any organization that pledges to rebuild entire villages is ambitious to say the least, while any solution that doesn’t attempt to support as many people as possible is useless in Nepal at this time.

The housing reconstruction project in post-earthquake Nepal is an ideological war of architecture, building tradition and inspiring those who lost their homes to be active participants in rebuilding. Techniques that employ local labor to build with local resources are the most ideal for rural villages as importing anything comes at a cost.

This monsoon season of Research and Development will see many suggestions on how to rebuild in Nepal. I will blog and photograph the evolution of this process from Kathmandu and rural villages- any and all feedback, networking and support is appreciated.


About Allen Gula

Freelance journalist, Non-profit Manager
Non-profit professional specializing in rural community development projects. Currently based in Kathmandu, researching long term earthquake relief programs.

One comment

  1. Hi Allen
    Great Insights.
    Are there any other local organizations other than ABARI who are better geared up for rebuilding activities?
    I have couple of quick questions, whats the best email to reach out to you.

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