Chetra Bhadur Rana in front of his newly-reconstructed home in Gorkha

When he lost his home to the 2015 earthquake, Chetra Bahadur Rana of Gorkha couldn’t see how he would ever be able to move on with his life. With a family of four to support, 45-year-old Rana says he had felt increasingly desolate about their prospects of recovery.

However, two months ago, a glimmer of hope arrived: the family finally began the long-pending reconstruction of their home.

Even after receiving the first tranche of the Government’s reconstruction grant, Rana had initially been unsure about how to proceed from there. But thanks to support from engineers at the municipality, and the recommendations of Awas Nirman Saathis (ANS)—trained local masons tasked with supervising reconstruction and offering guidance to homeowners—Rana knew exactly what to do next.

“I’d been so confused before that; I had the first tranche, but it wasn’t enough to build a house,” Rana says. “It was only when ANS officer Sangeeta Kattel suggested that I start with setting down a foundation that I saw the light. And importantly, she also advised me to use materials salvaged from my old house in order to reduce costs.”

This advice proved sound. While Rana spent almost Rs. 750,000 on rebuilding his house, he says he was able to save almost Rs. 100,000 by reusing existing material. Wooden door frames and windows, for instance, were recycled, while salvaged bricks and other material were used in setting the foundation.

Resilience to future disasters was also a key concern, and on the recommendation of engineers, Rana decided to apply the Compressed Stabilized Earthen Block (CSEB) technology in the new building. These blocks are stronger in comparison to bricks, although they are more expensive. Upon being asked why he’d chosen to go with CSEB, Rana says, “A good night’s sleep is much more important to me than money… Knowing that this building will keep my family safe made it an easy decision for me.”

In this way, Rana was able to expedite the construction work on his house these past two months, and the structure is nearly complete. He has now applied to receive the remaining instalment of the housing grant, which he plans to use to pay off the debt he’s accumulated in the reconstruction process and finish his new home.

“All I wanted was a safe place, and it’s wonderful to see it finally taking shape,” he says.

Collected and complied by: Prachi Aryal, Pravesh Gautam, Punita Mandal, Udhab Raj Subedi, Mohan Gautam, Rajesh Nepal

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