Construction of 40 transitional shelters has been completed just in time to beat the monsoon rains which have now begun. In a tremendous effort the CBSD team of Kumar, Mani, Mohan and Rek along with local labourers have managed to build 34 shelters in Nele and 6 in Deusa, Lower Solu Khumbu These have been constructed of zinc sheeting and locally sourced bamboo and timber. They will provide accomodation for families made homeless by the quake and should last for a few years which may well be the timescale for many in terms of rebuilding.
We are currently looking at how best to help with the repair and reconstruction of buildings. We understand that the Nepal Government is drawing up a new Building code and we also wait to hear what support the Nepal Goverment will be providing for reconstruction. Meantime assessment of damaged buildings is difficult particularly in the rural areas due to a lack of structural engineers. Villagers may not know if their damaged houses are safe and whether they are repairable or require demolition.
Repair and retrofitting of surviving houses to improve quake resistance is possible with the correct know-how and materials. Earthquake resistant features can also be incorporated when houses require total reconstruction and are being rebuilt in the traditional way using or reusing stone and timber. We will be trying to source training for villagers in these techniques.
UNDP ( United Nations Development Programme) have several videos on You Tube covering Earthquake Safe Building Methods in Nepal (episodes 9- 12 are particularly relevant to rural areas).
Alternative building techniques such as earth bag building may have a important role in the reconstruction. The 50 or so earthbag buildings that have been constructed in Nepal have apparently proved very quake resistant including schools and dormitories in Salleri, Basa and Phuleli all in Lower Solu Khumbu. This is a relatively easy and cheap method if suitable subsoil is available nearby. For more information on earthbag building see www.buildsimple.org and www.earthbagbuilding.com
Communication and access to Simigaon village in Dolakha remain very difficult. The village was devastated by the first quake and cut off by landslides when the second quake hit. Fortunately there have been no reports of casualties. Kumar (Chairman of CBSD) intends to go there as soon as possible to find out what help is needed. The villagers have been provided with tarpaulins but it is unclear if futher help has been able to get through to them. Our thoughts are with the villagers in what must be an extremely difficult situation.