Written on September 13, 2015 by Chrissy & Kurt
Unlike the immediacy of the devastation after April’s earthquake, progress towards recovery in Nepal is gradual. Dadagaun village has formed a Rebuilding Committee comprised of four village representatives, including School Principal, Dhorje Tamang, plus Steve Webster from Shivapuri Cottage and Lilu KC, employed as a Liaison Officer for Go Philanthropic in Kathmandu. Lilu takes minutes and distributes them to several groups such as Dadagaun Village Project who are donating to the rebuilding effort. It has been decided to expand the committee by the addition of two female village representatives.
The initial meeting in August discussed information from a questionnaire we developed to gather insights about each household in Dadagaun and their rebuilding needs: family members, employment status, type of house (free-standing or semi-detached), home to single or multi families, rebuilding needs, etc. 100 forms were filled out by villagers and neighbours. The committee decided on criteria for support, prioritising homes that have collapsed and need rebuilding, above those that just need repairs. The committee undertook responsibility for purchasing building materials and distributing them according to the agreed criteria. The villagers will be made aware of the levels of support and will be required to sign for receipt of materials. Transparency, accountability and an unbiased, criteria-driven approach were recognised as being of utmost importance.
It was agreed that an engineer needs to be involved for assessment and advice. Preserving the aesthetics and character of the Dadagaun village was also considered important. This is a truly valid point as it is vital to attract tourism back to Nepal and Dadagaun offers a unique village experience within easy reach of Kathmandu.
Perfect timing for Tom Crees to arrive! Tom is an architect and project manager and has a deep connection with Dadagaun through his decade of living there in the 1990s – 2000s. Tom has been rallying support for rebuilding in Dadagaun through Rotary Clubs in his home town of Goulburn, NSW, Australia. Tom attended the second meeting of the Dadagaun village rebuilding committee on 4th September along with local engineering colleagues and representatives from Kantipur Rotary Club, Khatmandu. At this meeting it was decided to develop a map of the village with the houses numbered. The map will incorporate information from the questionnaire along with results from a recent assessment undertaken by the Nepalese government, rating village homes on their safety for occupation. It will also include photos of the physical damage to homes such as Tom’s photos included in this post.
Tom raised the concept of a modular house design using steel frames that can be easily transported and assembled by untrained people – similar in concept to the “flat-pack” approach. It could be used for single or two storey dwellings, with verandahs, or traditional barduli, which are functionally important spaces for village life. He also raised the issue of trying to incorporate smoke-free cooking areas, bathrooms attached to the main house, roofing insulation, and solar powered electricity and water heating. While these innovations will raise the health and comfort levels of village life considerably, costing will be a critical issue.
It was decided that a local village committee be formed to be responsible for decisions relating to the many physical/building issues that will arise. This team should involve representatives from the lower, middle and upper village zones and youth volunteers to assist with heavy lifting etc.
The Kantipur Rotary Club is willing to become actively involved through liaison with the local committee, a means to transfer funds and an offer to undertake health camps.
The brick making machines will soon arrive in Kathmandu and Steve has payment, import and customs issues under control. A job well done! The challenge ahead will be how to incorporate the “lay-person-friendly” steel frames Tom has suggested with the “lay-person-friendly” reinforced compressed earth bricks. We are lucky to have architects and engineers on the team! More as it comes to hand.
PS. Our Aussie/ US fundraising dollars are quietly earning interest in a dedicated bank account – $100 extra dollars to date!