Materials and skills for post-earthquake reconstruction

The problem

The 2015 earthquake caused widespread destruction in Nepal. More than 650,000 houses need reconstruction, requiring massive amount of construction materials. This project will assess the demand and supply, identifying and addressing major constraints. 

The project aims to support Nepal's National Reconstruction Authority in meeting its rebuilding targets in earthquake affected district by strengthening the supply chain of construction materials and tools and through building the capacity of communities to co-ordinatee their efforts, build business skills and link to markets. 

What we’re doing to help

Objective: Rebuilding homes in earthquake affected districts

Strengthening supply chain of construction materials in earthquake affected areas

Location: Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk, Gorkha and Dhading. Nepal
Number of beneficiaries: 90,000 earthquake affected households
Project date: April 2016 - March 2019
Partners: Build Up Nepal, Sahayata Samajik Sanstha, Janajagriti Mahila Sanstha, ASF
Principal funders: DFID
Funding: £1.1 million

Many families who lost their homes in the 2015 earthquake are still living in temporary shelters. Perpetual inflation and the remoteness of the areas affected create further obstacles to rebuilding. Transportation costs sometimes exceed the price of the materials. Access to information and the technical approval required to meet government requirements for grant funding are also hindered by the remoteness of the earthquake affected regions. 

By eliminating unnecessary intermediaries in the supply chain of construction materials, the project is helping to provide quality construction materials - cement, iron bars, bricks, and wood -  at lower prices. Encouraging community organisations to get together to bulk buy local construction materials, will also help to reduce costs.The project is promoting local enterprises to produce construction materials to bridge the gap between supply and demand, focusing on alternative materials that have proved effective in other earthquake-hit countries. 

Project activities include:

  • Generating local employment through skills training
  • Developing a mechanism for effective monitoring of supply, demand and price of construction materials..
  • Fostering better business linkages and and developing local micro enterprises in the construction sector
  • Identifying bottlenecks in the supply chain and developing good practice cases for wider dissemination

Rebuild Nepal

With locally appropriate technologies, entrepreneurs and enabling markets, we have demonstrated that rebuilding the parts of Nepal heavily damaged by the earthquake is possible.

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Look how far your money can go

I feel very happy that I have been able to contribute to the community. We get good prices for people in the village and they say good things about the centre.  Practical Action is building a foundation for the community here. – Chandra Kumari Paneru, resource centre worker, Kalika


Achievements in the first year of the project

  • Supply chain assessment of construction materials
  • Established 8 Concrete Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) enterprises
  • Established 6stone cutting enterprises
  • Established 15 resource centres with temporary storage facilities
  • Established 2 timber treatment plants, one each in Nuwakot and Rasuwa District
  • Established construction materials quality testing lab in Nuwakot and Rasuwa
  • IEC materials on quality of construction materials (types and number)
  • Produced two animation videos on the quality of construction materials
  • Developed online Market Information System (MIS) system and mobile apps for market information dissemination
  • Training for masons on building house with CSEB technology

Supply chain update

Rebuilding Nepal - Sancha Tamang

Meet Sancha Tamang, a 30 year old stone maker from Nepal.

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Rebuilding Nepal - Parbat Rana

Meet Parpal Rana, a 25-year-old brick-making entrepreneur from Nepal.

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Rebuilding Nepal - Krishna Sunar

Meet Krishna Sunar, a 72-year-old woman from Nepal.

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Januka Neupane

Januka Neupane, now 50, was left with nothing but her four children when her husband passed away 20 years ago. She moved back to Banuwa, the village where she was born, and her family gave her a small patch of land with a small stone hut to start a new life. She worked tirelessly to provide for her children, but even this came at a price. Januka developed severe nerve damage on her spine, and can barely walk. As her condition worsened so did her misfortune. Her house, the only asset she had, was completely destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. 

Despite receiving the first tranche of the national housing reconstruction grant, Januka struggled to begin rebuilding. Some of her able-bodied neighbours started saving on labour costs by collecting and preparing stone themselves, and others used additional savings to supplement the grant, but for her this was out of the question. The grant could not cover all the extra help that Januka would need to transport and manage a build.

Fortunately, Januka was chosen to be one of the first people in her village to demonstrate a new, more affordable earthquake-resilient construction method. Concrete Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) form part of Practical Action’s UKAID-funded earthquake reconstruction efforts and the program even helped cover the labour costs for Januka’s new home, saving her nearly £2,000.

More than 80% of homes were destroyed by the 2015 earthquakes, but now Januka’s is almost complete.  The simple, affordable technology used to rebuild it stands as a beacon of hope for her and the other villagers who have not yet been able to begin the daunting task of rebuilding.

Prem Bahadur Tamang

Every shovelful of soil 18-year-old Prem Bahadur Tamang lifts is to help his family.

For the last 3 months, Prem has been working at the new Compressed Stablised Earth Block (CSEB) plant in Kalika Gaunpalika in Rasuwa. It is physically demanding work, but for locals like Prem each earth block they produce is an opportunity to help rebuild their home area and their own futures after the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake.

These blocks are an affordable, sturdy alternative to bricks. They do not require firing kilns and can be manufactured locally in most places, which reduces transportation costs and provides employment.

Demand for these new bricks is high, and Prem has been making up to 100 bricks a day. He earns between £70 and £100 a month. This helps him support his parents and pay tuition fees for his younger brother. The family is putting aside savings so that they can rebuild their house and move out of their tin shelter.

“I’ll build it with blocks like the ones I’m making now,” says Prem.

Supply Chain Assessment Report-Nuwakot and Rasuwa

Practical Action conducted an assessment of overall demand and supply situation of reconstruction materials in Nuwakot and Rasuwa Districts of Nepal. The study has identified major issues around the construction materials and recommends probable measures to address the issues.

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Updates from this project

Moulding bricks, rebuilding settlements

When we reached Deurali Interlocking Block Udyog, a small enterprise making compressed stabilised...
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Learning through experience

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I earned two degr...
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Progress in Pictures

Prepared by Rabindra Singh and Yugdeep Thapa

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Earthquake victims coming together to rein in the ever increasing price of construction materials

A simple act of collective procurement is improving the access of the earthquake victims to quali...
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