Wheels in motion: UNDP offers free construction counseling and drawing-preparation services for vulnerable households in quake-hit areasJan 30, 2017
UNDP’s CDRMP—with support from the Japanese government and in collaboration with the Institute of Engineering—has offered free construction counseling and drawing-preparation services to earthquake-affected households in Melamchi to help them build back better
Upon receiving the first tranche of the government’s reconstruction grant to rebuild the house he had lost in the 2015 earthquake, Bel Bahadur Bhujel of Melamchi had been at a loss as to how he should proceed. Bel Bahadur and his wife had been eager to begin putting their home—and their lives—back together after the disaster, but the process of getting a proper seismically-resilient design for a house prepared, and then approved by the municipality, had seemed so dense that they had felt intimidated, unsure of who to consult, where to go. Besides which, funds were another problem—without a steady income, they did not know if they would be able to afford hiring someone for the job.
Of course, they are hardly alone in this: there are many people in earthquake-ravaged areas around the country, who—despite having part of their housing grants released—have not been able to move ahead, baffled by the perceived complexity of the permit procedure.
It was with this dilemma in mind that UNDP Nepal’s Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Programme (CDRMP)—with support from the Government of Japan and in collaboration with the Institute of Engineering (IoE)—had rolled out a free construction counseling and drawing-preparation service in Melamchi this month, aimed at households deemed the most vulnerable, namely, those headed by women, differently-abled or old-aged members. Bel Bahadur’s was among the 48 households that were selected for the initiative.
So, over the course of three days starting January 25, students of architecture and structural engineering—under the supervision of Prajwal Hada, the Assistant Professor at the IoE—took on the task of providing technical assistance to the selected households. They visited the sites, measured out the properties so as to develop site plans listing the typology of the house and any inputs from the owners in terms of requirements and preferences. Bel Bahadur, for instance, wanted a single-storied, two-roomed structure made of stone and mud mortar and the students prepared the plan accordingly in his case.
As per the Executive Officer of Melamchi Municipality, Purna Dulal, the success of the initiative was proof that it could be upscaled to help the thousands more who are in need of a helping hand. “The lack of technical support is one of the main reasons reconstruction has not been moving along at a better pace in this municipality, as in many others,” he said. “That kind of help is also essential in motivating people to rebuild in a safer manner.”
The pilot event in Melamchi is part of a larger effort by UNDP’s CDRMP to help establish a code-compliant building permit system in three municipalities—Melamchi, Chautara and Panchkal--advocating more resilient building practices and more rigorous implementation of the National Building Code.