Technology Demonstration Center for Reconstruction: Gorkha Earthquake 2015

The April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks specially of May 12, 2015 caused unprecedented destruction in Nepal with about 9,000 casualties, over 22,000 injuries along with complete destruction of more than half a million housing units and various level of damages to more than 250,000 buildings (PDNA, NPC 2015). The Government of Nepal has expressed its resolve to support the affected communities to reconstruct their houses with improved and affordable technologies for creating disaster resilient communities. The Nepal Earthquake Recovery and Reconstruction Policy has rightly focused on ensuring reconstruction of disaster resistant houses.

The Rapid Visual Damage Assessment revealed that more than 80 percent building collapsed are non-engineered in rural areas constructed with traditional materials like earth, stone, bamboo, wood.  This lead to building up of a common perception that houses built with ‘traditional materials’ like earth, bamboo or stone are weak, but the one built with ‘modern materials’ like cement, concrete and steel are strong. This perception is totally misplaced. The critical analysis of damage pattern and type along with their associated causes explicitly exhibit that poor quality of construction and inadequate structural details can make any building unsafe, even if it is made with concrete and steel. Understanding of disaster resistant construction technologies and practices can potentially equip the community to incorporate safety features in their new houses.

The PDNA 2015 outlines that in post disaster recovery; large amount of resources will be consumed in the reconstruction of houses. The socio economic and physical condition of nation does not allow to carry out reconstruction activities using modern engineering materials and technologies only.  The recovery and reconstruction strategy of the government has rightly encouraged community participation and an owner-driven reconstruction (ODR) approach to build back better while also strengthening the local economy and ensuring the rehabilitation is equitable and inclusive. In context of Nepal, reconstruction is possible, feasible and resilient – but only when the community itself leads the process. This calls for not only creative funding and support but also innovative and affordable technological choices, information and timely technical advice. This requires facilitation and convincing demonstrations.

In this background the Government of Nepal, MOUD and DUDBC have planned to develop a mechanism to create awareness and technology transfer on disaster resilient building construction to the rural communities at district level with financial support from UNDP. In this context a concept of establishing a Technology Demonstration Center (TDC) has evolved.