When the 2015 earthquakes struck Nepal, and homeowners began to look into reconstruction options, a wave of new building technologies came into practice across the country. Many were keen to opt for these newer methods of construction because they had lost faith in the more traditional technologies, believing them to be unsafe in the event of another disaster.
It is, however, important not to dismiss age-old building methods in this manner—used under correct guidance, they can still prove viable means by which to construct a resilient structure. And Sukhdev Sarki of Kuwapani in Gorkha district was eager to show this was possible.
Sukhdev had lost his house to the quake, and for a long time—living in a makeshift shelter made up of CGI sheets—had struggled to come to terms with his loss and move on with life. It was only recently that he finally decided to take on the task of rebuilding, but he was always very skeptical about new construction techniques—especially the costs attached to them. He therefore decided that rather than drowning in debt, he would stick to traditional mud-mortar technology and make use of what materials he could salvage from his damaged house.
With the first and second tranches of the government’s reconstruction grant in his hands, Sukhdev is now well into rebuilding his new home and all the stones being used in the process were sourced from the old structure. And guiding him through the process are Awas Nirmaan Saathis (ANS) or trained local masons deployed under UNDP’s Nepal Housing Reconstruction Project in Gorkha district—with funding from the Government of India. Further support is being extended by Quality Assurance Engineers from the project, who visit the site regularly to ensure the building is earthquake-resilient.
“I think this proves that you don’t need to switch fully to new technologies, but can also find ways to make traditional methods safer,” Sukhdev says of his experience. “But to do this, you need the right guidance, which is why I’m grateful for the support given by the ANS and engineers from the Nepal Housing Reconstruction Project.”