|An earth bag school under construction in Nepal, before the|
earthquake. This one, a school, built by the local community with design and
training help from Edge of Seven, others shown below.
Critical points are: these are extremely earthquake resilient, energy efficient
and require a fraction of the logistics of importing bricks and cement up the damaged roads, etc.
The incredibly powerful earthquake which struck Nepal on 25th of April this year has killed over 7,500 people and injured at least twice as many. Latest reports are indicating that over 255,000 houses have been destroyed, with another 215,000 "damaged". Humanitarian coordination is already up and running and huge amounts of data and information is being placed online and updated regularly. The relevant entry point is here.
The suffering and loss reported by the media and humanitarian agencies has been immense, unbearable for those families worst affected. Save the Children and UNDAC report
It reminds me of news, around ten years ago of the earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan, which was actually slightly less intense than the one in Nepal (7.6 and 7.8 respectively, on the richter scale), but claimed more than 80,000 lives. At least, thus far, mortality in Nepal has been lower, by a a huge margin.
|The main sectors in the UN Flash appeal|
including target numbers of beneficiaries.
So there are lots of areas to deal with and to the extent possible the local Government NGOs (and a whole range of “civil society” actors will be leading the response). These appeals and the consequent scaling up of UN and international NGOs try, to a large extent, to support these local efforts, rather than overwhelm things with outsiders and foreign stuff.
With over a quarter of a million houses damaged, there's a massive shelter and housing challenge - that has to be addressed ASAP before the winter - indeed before the monsoon rainy season which can start as early as June and go through September.
- People need immediate (emergency) shelter now if they have lost their home and are sleeping out in the open or with friends and family.
- For those families who remain in or near their villages reconstruction and recovery starts right away. The concept of there being phases: emergency shelter, followed by some transitional affair, then “build back safer” durable and “earthquake compliant” shelter is not very close to their reality – or affordable.
- There will not be enough money. The UN has already asked for almost half a billion USD – for the first three months alone! (OK most of it for food and cash vouchers), but how much money do you think the donor community has to spare? (Don’t forget that the latest appeal to support Lebanon is for $2.2 bn, which doesn't include the needs inside Syria, Jordan, Yemen; let alone South Sudan, Ebola recovery and so on). So: whatever is done has to be extremely good value (read: low cost and robust). Or chose to support only a small percentage of the total caseload with a full price (all signing all dancing) reconstruction package.
- News update as of 8th May, the UN says it's only received about 5% of it's $415m appeal (that's around $22m). This usually happens at the beginning of an appeal, but 5% is really low, so, as I said, money is going to be tight.
- Immediate life-saving shelter interventions such as tarpaulins, basic tools and fixings for damaged homes for displaced people, along with the appropriate non-food items. (And the shelter cluster provides a pretty cool info sheet on how to strap down your tarp in the best way possible).
- Cash for the "most vulnerable" families (which in itself can be challenging to decide as so many have lost their homes and are vulnerable) to address urgent needs. Actually, I think that cash right now would be really useful and appropriate - assuming shops and markets are around. Much better than donating a tent or cooking sets, which cost a lot of money plus serious transport costs and hassle. People know what they need and they know how to get ahold of it, if they have money. However, I've also heard that building materials are really hard to buy right now and to transport to the more isolated areas. Moreover, cash alone doesn't pay for critical water and sanitation work to be done.
I heard from another colleague that it’s really difficult to buy or access materials out in the more remote areas; there’s not a lot of salvageable wood from the rubble and roofing sheets are damaged.
In which case - a really excellent resource - for anyone working with bamboo and tarps is this "reciproboo" system, developed by Shaun Halbert, which uses smart but really simple geometry to greatly reduce the amount of bamboo or sticks needed per shelter.
|Earth bag shelter built in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake by|
Cal Earth Pakistan - see link and reference below.
|Earthbag building in Mexico.|
|Some of the really useful information managemnet data coming out of the shetler cluster in Khatmandu. This is a poor quality snapshot - go check out their website and links to all their docs here.|
|Another interesting one showing numbers of shelter items distributed so far, by who. |
Source: as above (Shelter cluster Nepal)
|Focus area of the earthquake and worst-affected districts|
|A breakdown of requested funds per sector from the UN flash appeal|
|Serious structural cracks already seen on this building. It would be a miracle if it remained standing|
|lots of bizarre looking tall and thin structures like this|
have been built over the last ten years. I don't know
how well they handled the earthquake, as many of the buldings
around them appear really vulnerable.