Anniversary of the Nepal Earthquake: A Journey from Restoration to Resilience

New Delhi (India), April 25: On April 25, 2015, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, centering in the Gorkha district, just northwest of the capital, Kathmandu. The disaster claimed nearly 9,000 lives, injured tens of thousands, and left entire villages and communities in ruins. The destruction was so extensive that it displaced millions and necessitated a massive international aid response.

In the years following the earthquake, the affected communities have demonstrated incredible resilience and determination in restoring their lives and homes. This recovery was significantly supported by various national and international collaborations, prominently featuring the Gorkha Housing Reconstruction Project (GHRP). Funded by the Government of India and executed with the expertise of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this initiative has been pivotal in aiding families in Gorkha to rebuild stronger, more resilient homes.

Understanding the Cause of the Disaster

The 2015 Nepal earthquake, also known as the Gorkha earthquake, was primarily caused by the thrust faulting on or near the main frontal thrust of the Himalayas, an area known for seismic activity. This region’s geological instability is due to the northward movement of the Indian Plate against the Eurasian Plate, which accumulates stress over centuries, releasing it in catastrophic earthquakes. The tragic event of 2015 was a stark reminder of the area’s vulnerability and the need for improved construction practices and disaster preparedness.

Gorkha Housing Reconstruction Project: A Beacon of Hope

The Gorkha Housing Reconstruction Project began officially on March 8, 2018, after the Government of India partnered with UNDP to provide socio-technical facilitation to over 26,000 homeowners across Gorkha district. The project spans across two urban and six rural municipalities, focusing on rebuilding efforts in 42 wards. The aid provided includes administrative assistance, on-site technical advice, and capacity building for homeowners and local masons.

Technical support encompasses guidance on construction technology, disaster-resistant features, and government norms, along with helping in design, drawing, and the building permit process. Additionally, the project promotes the use of Appropriate Disaster Resistant Technologies to enhance the long-term sustainability and safety of the homes.

Achievements and Impact

Since its inception, the GHRP has made substantial progress. Over 24,000 households have successfully constructed resilient homes with the project’s assistance. This includes designing code-compliant houses, acquiring necessary permits, and facilitating access to housing grants and resources. The initiative has been particularly focused on inclusivity, ensuring that over 2,500 vulnerable households receive the support needed to build safe homes.

Furthermore, the project has trained approximately 2,000 masons in resilient and affordable construction techniques, contributing significantly to local capacity building. The establishment of Building Permit Studios has provided over 3,000 homeowners with essential services, and the deployment of mobile technology vans has demonstrated earthquake-safe construction practices across the district.

Social mobilization efforts have been extensive, with cultural programs and over 310 radio broadcasts designed to educate and engage the community in reconstruction efforts. A striking example of local involvement is the deployment of Awas Nirman Saathis—local masons trained to support reconstruction—who, alongside engineers and social mobilizers, made over 244,000 door-to-door visits.

Spotlight on STS Global

A critical contributor to the project’s success has been STS Global, part of the Owner-Driven Reconstruction Collaborative. STS Global has played a key role in the technical facilitation and capacity building of the community, ensuring that the reconstruction efforts not only rebuild homes but also enhance resilience against future disasters.

Looking Forward

The Gorkha Housing Reconstruction Project represents a significant milestone in Nepal’s ongoing journey from recovery to resilience. By focusing on sustainable rebuilding and community involvement, the project not only restores homes but also fortifies the human spirit against the challenges of future calamities. As the project progresses, it continues to stand as a testament to the power of collaborative effort in the face of adversity, marking a beacon of hope and resilience for the people of Nepal.

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