A collaborative team consisting of a student group from the University of New Mexico (UNM4Nepal), Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel Hospital Kathmandu University Hospital, Pratiman-Neema Memorial Foundation (PNMF), the Department of Civil Engineering, and the Nepal Study Center of the University of New Mexico begins a construction project in Bahunipati: the Women’s Community Center Project. The project is to last for one month (May-June), and the team hopes to change the rural reconstruction paradigm by focusing on “building resilient communities” to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Importantly, the UNM team hopes to teach local community members a simple and sustainable construction method, known as the earth-bag technique. The UNM4Nepal student led project’s final design evolved after an extensive discussion between the student group and the Nepal-based collaborators. The project was conceived as a two-part civil engineering class (Fall 2015; Spring 2016) and as an interdisciplinary and inter-departmental initiative under the mentoring advisement of Dr. Mark Stone of Civil Engineering and Dr Alok Bohara of the Department of Economics. Valuable input and cooperation was provided by Dr. Biraj Karmacharya and his colleagues from Dhulikhel Hospital Kathmandu University Hospital and other Nepali partners, volunteers and coordinators, and exceptional leadership was displayed by the UNM4Nepal student president (Jennifer Van Osdel) and vice-president (Lo Jaramillo).
With over 600,000 homes that must be rebuilt all across the country, PNMF is collaborating with UNM4Nepal, UNM’s Nepal Study Center, the Nepal Engineering College to design an affordable, sustainable, locally-sourced, and earthquake-resistant structure that can provide long-term shelter and safety in impoverished, rural villages.
Knowing that this structure has been designed around the potential for future earthquakes will help give a traumatized population a sense of physical and psychological security. We will promote sustainability by emphasizing education and training of local volunteers so that communities can replicate and adapt our design.
Examples include, but are not limited to, the development, testing, and dissemination of housing designs for affordable, sustainable, locally-sourced, and earthquake-tested structure that can provide long-term shelter and safety in impoverished, rural villages. This is one of many technologies that will be designed and tested as a part of the Sustainable Technology and Innovation Lab of the Polytechnic College (PNMHI) in collaboration with the national and international partners. Sustainable living options including solar lighting, improved cooking stoves to cut indoor pollution, water filter, rain catchment, and bio-gas are also being explored.