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).