The project in Nepal started from a need to see a more integrated whole-systems response to the rebuilding efforts after the 2015 earthquake. Through the contact of permaculturist and Blueprint member Chris Evans, the Himalayan Permaculture Centre put together a plan and a budget for "Building Resilience Through Recovery" in two target villages, with the support of locally trained barefoot consultants, the Kamala Foundation and Abari - the local natural building company. This programme is being funded by Kamala Foundation and Lush UK, with support from Abari. Abari is responsible for reconstruction of buildings damaged in the villages (the villages featured in the video link are both those that RTR is working with) – in both cases nearly 100% of houses were destroyed or damaged. RTR meanwhile is implementing land design and training for farmers alongside the house reconstruction.
The stated objectives of the project are:
- Demonstrate and promote practices that integrate agriculture with all other elements of the village environment increasing productivity while preserving key environmental systems.
- Demonstrate to and train community members in earthquake resilient building techniques and alternative energy systems.
- Increase awareness of women's health issues, provide training and develop health support services.
- Increase the capacity of village and community based groups to be able to effectively participate in program development, implementation and evaluation.
- Demonstrate and develop micro-enterprise, production centres and income generation activities which improve village economies.
The first part of the programme is underway. Chris Evans reports:
"Barefoot consultants" (BCs) from the Himalayan Permaculture Centre (HPC) in Surkhet who have come to one of the selected earthquake-affected villages in Nuwakot district to live & work for at least a year in order to facilitate training in various technologies. Prabina from Sunrise Farm is facilitating the RTR part of the program, while Abari are dealing with the building re-construction part of the project (55 houses to be rebuilt)."
Barefoot Consultants are local villagers who are trained in the practices and processes of the Farmers' Handbook and who can deliver training to farmers in the region. The core principles of the project is that recovery is an opportunity for futher developing the local community through improving the efficiency of their resource use, for example, through fuel-efficient stove training, health of the local environment, through tree planting and agroforestry and the well-being of the local population, through women's health training. All of this while build capacity in natural earthquake-resistant building.
Beside the local expertise and resources, Jay Abrahams and Bee Rowan, both practitioners part of the Blueprint Network, spent a couple of weeks visiting villages and permaculture demonstration sites in Nepal that have been more or less affected by the earthquakes and subsequent monsoon-induced landslides. The objetive was to assess the sites for potential water security, whole water design and sanitation solutions. They reported that large-scale earthworks are not possible, due to both topography and land ownership, and recommends a capacity building programme for building hydraulic lime and lime stabilised clay structures that can support a series of functions, from biogas digesters and tree bog toilets to domestic fish pools.
Zac Barton, who's been putting the programme together, says:
"as we move through this process of research and design we have identified using lime-stabilized earth structures as the most realistic and sustainable solution to "rebuilding" in areas affected by the earthquake. This method of course can be used for Jay's regenerative designs, as well as other elements that will be part of our integrated response. The villages will act as both a demonstration site and a training center for these sustainable methods/techniques/technologies."
The capacity building programme would be delivered to local engineers, Abari and members of Building without Borders in order to bring knowledge again that was lost. Traditional buildings built with lime and clay resisted the earthquake.
The basic programme with the two villages is now fully funded and we are fundraising for the Lime Stabilised Soil Capacity Building part of the programme. Please get in touch if you can help.
Photo: Stone and Bamboo School built by Abari and Learning Planet that survived the earthquake in Gorkha. (Abari, 2014)