A walk to Remember: Journey to Listhikot VDC (Chang Ching Village)

                     Travel is one of best way to learn things and explore beyond comfort zone. The less travelled road, after major Earthquake Nepal 2015, left Araniko Highway connecting Kodari to Kathmandu sees fewer commuters. After postponing my trip to Listhikot VDC for several times due to roadblock, it was finally decided to pack bag and hit the highway. After 5 hours of bus ride from Old bus park of Kathmandu we reached Barabise around 5:30pm in evening. As heavy and daily rainfall had brought several landslides blocking road access to Listhikot. So we decided to pursue journey following day hoping roadblock will be clear next day.

                  Ironically there was heavy downpour last night, which completely ruined our plan to travel by bus. We planned to go via any vehicle to Nayapool and then hitchhike uphill to Chang Ching (a village among several village of Listhikot VDC). It was early morning so there was less chance of getting any vehicle, as vehicle plying had reduced significantly after closure of Lasha border. We asked lift for every passing vehicle finally our luck turned out, we got lift from a truck-carrying quarry for ongoing hydropower project at Chaku. (Middle Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project) After an hour journey we reached at Nayapool at 7:00 am. We passed through Nayapool, a spot for bungee jumping and other various adventurous activities hosted by The Last Resort.

                       The uphill journey through fallen houses, temporary shelter of people and terrible sheds for animal brought chill on us. It felt like no presence of any authority or government in vicinity. The uphill walk made us so exhausted we had to make several stops and we ran out of water, which made journey more arduous. The steep hill, heat of sun and lack of water made walk difficult. After 3 hours of walk we reached first house of uphill village. We asked for water, owner of house very generously provided clean water (filtered water) for drinking. He expressed his grievances after earthquake, the losses and tragedies he had to go through.

                 Personally I found him quite traumatic and his odd behavior expressed those fear and anxiety. He said still he couldn’t sleep inside his house at night so generally he prefers sleeping in open space at smooth surface in uphill area. There have been repeated landslides, fracturing of land mass and majority of water sprouts around village area have been dried up. We could witness his saying when we roamed around village.

                     After few minutes walk from his house we reached our final destination Chang Ching village. The main aim was to inspect community kitchen made in Buddhist Gumba for approval of budget from government as fellow traveller was appointed as Civil Engineer in charge for re construction and rehabilitation in Listhi VDC. The journey provided very insightful things, difficulties at grass root level and presence of resentment about state. It came to light people are affected more as there is no income as Lasha border is closed as working as seller or vendor and purchasing daily goods for livelihood. Now they do not have proper shelter to live in, jobs to work and are purchasing Indian goods at higher rate.

                   This journey made me realized ground reality of many Nepalese life from ground zero up.

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The Dilemma : To Build Or Not To

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                               The Gorkha/Nepal earthquake 2015 remained one of devastating natural calamities country ever faced. Its irony in seismically volatile country like Nepal to remain responsive and readiness for such disasters. Not only earthquake shook our hope and aspiration but fell our homes, institutions and heritages down. The western and central regions of Nepal were most affected regions due to earthquake. The temporary shelters were built for providing shelter for people as seismic activities continues. They have passed scorching sun of summer, chilling winters and again they are exposed to rainy season.

                                              With no proper shelter, sanitation, strong waves of wind how will they be able to cope with limited foods and basic utilities. They are in great dilemma whether to built permanent housing as they fear buildings permanent houses in such seismically active time will result in weak foundation. The fear is still among them, there is no proper presence of government, people believe that government is only looking after so call high class people of villages and squandering budget in high level meet ups in city. While true affected people are suffering, their woes and pain are higher.

                      The feeling of lawlessness is increasing among local people in affected regions. While government is busy on data collection, assessment of it, finding actual proof of devastation in ground level, further strategy, bringing Re-construction authority in full shape. The other side feel desolated and isolated from mainstream. The helping and distribution of relief works is being heavily politicized creating very biased relief works. While billion dollar pledges from various donors still lies in limbo. The awards of best finance ministership gained by then ministership having being assured is slowly going o vain.

                            While we are discussing about potential solution, government being guardian of country should make its presence felt. This is time for government to step in to gain trust and credibility that it stands there for public welfare. The past experience suggest a very different track as of embezzlement and corruption that our leaders, bureaucrats and official are popular. The need of hour is honest and accountable head of Re-Construction Authority who can independently work for goodwill of people without any personal vendetta and biasses.

                             About technicality of building house it is only safe to built house once seismic activities are out of radar. But there has to be arrangement of other facilities so people feel comfortable in existing houses. Like proper sanitation as I see most of house are not equipped with proper toilets. They are improperly build up. Once rainy seasons starts there might be outbreak of water borne diseases as people are residing closely with each other. The supply of pure drinking water should be arranged beforehand. The frequent shocks and tremor has loosened lands bonding, as volatility of landslides and erosion will be higher.

                             Instead of carrying relief with great fanfare once tragedy hits it. Its better to equip them beforehand. There should be emergency unit for readiness and response in such fragile area. The proper planning, surveying and data study should be done for better results. Thus we can create a resilience, responsive and readiness community.

Photo Source: Nepali Times

Journey form Training to Trainer : As Light of Hope Continues

                           

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                      Energy has been one of the basic requirement of human beings. The traditional use of fossil fuel is gradually shifting with advent of cleaner and greener technology. And change in people perception and consciousness about climate impacts, global warming and green house effects. RAN (Robotics Association Nepal) is one of Nepal’s best institutions trying to promote technology for generating holistic relation between machine and human.

                             The #LIGHTOFHOPE is audacious project initiated by RAN with agenda to connect rural livelihood to basic energy use like lighting and charging system. The process is to connect rural and earthquake affected area to primary energy use. The deprivation of energy & energy crunch is not only hampering economic activities but education of students. So #lightofhope aims to bring back hope to people to re-start life. Everything is broken but there stands only hope that things will get better. #LightofHope tires to embolden resilience, empathy and provide strength to return to normal living for Nepalese people who are beyond electric grid connection.

                                The Shree Nawalpur Secondary School was place for solar training and distribution. The place being in vicinity of Melamchi, still lacked proper road and electric connection. The event was already planned and well arranged by local partner YUWA Nepal. Primary task was to train ninety student, equip them for repair & maintenance, and distribute 5W solar system with light and charging system. We could see curious, energetic and bold ninety students, school authority, local experts being in school. We were really glad despite public holiday of Saturday people were kind enough to show up. The main objective was to give introduction about renewable energy, detail about solar system, component of solar system, repair & maintenance and about how solar can good business opportunity.

                                      Personally there is great difference in being with the crowd and handling the crowd. Being in training helped me to learn and nurture self. I was always obliged and felt privileged to get such opportunities. This was time to pay back or simply spread good vibes for others. I tried as much as being basic about facts and in mean time holistic. The major point I was careful not to let voids between by talks and student listening. The sessions was quite interactive, reaching student asking them and they asking back their queries. I was able to reach their psyche to some extent inspire them to lead from grass root. It was amazing to teach, hear, learn and share among students. The latter solar as business opportunities was carried out by Binod Pangeni. This session was especially designed to promote business opportunities that can or comes with solar technology. The main idea behind this was to encourage student to find solution within country and to remind them there are possibilities as well as potentialities developing country and making money in Nepal.

                                                    The journey to and fro Sindhupalchowk was full of fun. It was great conversation with fellow travelers local resident Aunt who rose my curiosity about place, her experience after earthquake, how grateful she was to have young people like us helping them, the hardship they have been through, hope & resilience they had despite their homes were completely turned down, her future dream to rebuilt house. Thanks to volunteers from Australia and Germany for being here selflessly to be part of re-construction. It was great to catch up with you guys. Oh! Driver dai, your story and reasoning and loud music system made us inexhaustible throughout travel. It simply helped us to be cheerful. Many many thanks to Bikash Gurung dai for providing wonderful opportunity to actually go to different part and shade some knowledge I had. It was great to reach people in local level and empower them. #LightofHope continues for adding hope for rural livelihood and re-construction after earthquake, shading light raising people’s aspiration.

Cheers.

About Robotics Association Nepal.

Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN), is not-for-profit, non-governmental organization which is continuously working in the field of robotics and electronics automation since its establishment (2010). Each year we celebrate festival of art, science and technology “Yantra”. Robotics Association of Nepal has built a network of students RAN Representatives (RR).

Winter is Coming

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                   The never ending political mess and wrangling over newly made constitutions, further surrounding fuel shortage in Nepal. The accessibility and mobility of Nepal bound cargos are struck around boarder due to blockade or no blockade by India has deep impacts on ongoing re-construction aftermath of earthquake. There is severe crisis for thousands of earthquake victims living in higher Himalayas of Nepal.

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                Winter is coming and people have no real shelter to stay in.

                 Near about one lakh people will be out of reach once snowfall sets in. Hardly within one month winter will heighten its impact on Himalayas and high hills. Across plains protest by ethnic groups near Indian borders over dissatisfaction over newly drafted drafted constitutions and unofficial support by Indian authorities resulted in pile up of supply trucks from India leading to a severe fuel shortage in the country.

               The situation will be worse where temperature drops below zero, supplies reach on such location through combination of off road vehicles, porters and mules. Survivors face the prospect of a winter in open tents. The promised goods and logistics by various organization could not be kept. We are in full swing to end up in double humanitarian crisis. The fuel crisis has pushed up cost of distributing and transporting reliefs for NGO’s. The support comes up with deadline, if we do not finish within duration, we need to find another funding source. It’s the same story for all the NGO’s.

                    The construction of permanent shelter has been badly disturbed by unavailability of cement, sand and construction materials. The fuel crisis has severe economic and social impacts on the slowly recovering affected families. The prioritizing of highway bound vehicle for festivities lead to complete shutdown of re-construction works.

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                       The fuel crisis is not only concern at moment. The agenda of recovery and re-construction seems to be sidelined due to crisis. According to UN 80% of goods were to be supplied to quake victims are struck in ware houses because of fuel shortage. The National Reconstruction authority still remains in limbo as the bill is yet to be passed. The concern of international community to pass bill does not seem urgency for present government.

                  The Oli government needs to prioritize pending construction. Moreover many victims will suffer winter if they do not have access to proper supplies of food, medicines, blankets and warm clothes and other necessities. Thus government needs to co-ordinate with humanitarian organization and make sure that relief supplies reach at high altitude areas before road gets blocked after first snowfall. Winter is approaching and time is running out with every drop in temperature, so government really needs to pull up its resources and go to work.

Photo Source: Internet

All we need is of Rule of Law

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              Any ruling system of country is peculiar to other country. The exact copy of one system cannot be applied on other countries. Nepal is unique country in itself we do not need to prove this often. We have jingoistic nationalist citizen but lack visionary leaders to rule country. We are popular for doing politics for party and self rather than for country betterment. We do not hesitate to occupy same ministership for more than enough time. We claim all good deeds on our bag and political wing. We cautiously blame other party for wrong doing. We do not have enough moral to claim our faults, always there are someone to blame for it. We produce various experts and workforce who contribute for development of other countries but not ours one. We do not have healthy environment for youth to make change if there is its tedious full with beaurocratic hurdles. The option is clear for youths if you have skills and expertise that has to get value within country or beyond country. Globalization is erasing national boundary people work and study crossing terriorty where there is stability or government that supports business venture and economic activities.

                              The political instability has engulfed Nepal since long time after Rana regime. The people were suppressed but still country was progressing in long run. Obviously I am not with autocratic or dictatorship. But whats meaning of democracy if there is no country’s development and progress. That does not mean we have to go to bygone time. The country has already seen enough bloodshed and destruction in the name of change of governing system. There are lots of expert lets use their expertise we cannot just copy system from foreign country and replicate it here. The challenge for us is to design which is just best fit for us. Lets not try to make our country Paris or Singapore. Lets stop such rhetoric talks we are unique lets set example how innovative and creative we are. We need to prove that we are self capable to design our constitutions and include diverse voice.

                                   There should not be any opposition if we make federal states in Nepal. The country sizes and population things are shallow countries with small area and also large area have significantly done good with federalism. The question is how can we make something which is best fir for us. The federal states should be divided on basis of decentralization and empowerment. The division should be irrespective of caste, creed, ethnicity and religion. How much diverse we are geographically, socially, economically, culturally, religiously, ethnically, we must realize that before its too late. The EK Madesh EK Pradesh rhetoric should be left. Nepal is equally of people of Mountains, Hill and Terai. We should promote nationalism as a whole united Nepal.

                                 We need to address voice of people from different sector. The unilateral decision and party politics should not impede promulgation of constitutions. Meantime we should not think constitutions is only solution of everything but we need to take as initial phase for change. We are lagging behind in reconstruction phase after massive earthquake. We won trust from donors but we are showing same notions Nepali are known best for speaking not for doing. There has been no news of out comes of investment of Prime Minister relief fund. The road is full of hurdles but still journey has to be made by holistic approach from civil society, politician, technical experts, policy makers, and others sector of Nepal.

Innovation on Rural Houses Towards Resilient Nepal

                  We have loads of discussion and seminars regarding housing design for urban houses. Lots of new proposed design are on pipeline and many have been implemented. But we are not being able to come up with concrete plan for rural regions of Nepal. Obviously remote village, town, semi-urban area comprises most part of our country. The challenges are not limited for earthquake resistive house only but innovation to integrate Nepali style of housing along construction. We definitely do not need so much concrete research and development for integrating such feature. We can incorporate frugal or people innovation. Already we have limited economic as well as physical resources which hinders every plan we try to achieve. The difficult terrain, monsoon, road access (transportation), skilled manpower will deter building houses. The use of Galvanizing Iron (G.I) sheets is mostly providing shelter in almost all remote areas. But people cannot sustain all life in shades of iron sheets. So there has to be innovation from people(us) in frugal and scientific way.

During earthquake, it generates three kinds of forces which acts upon any structure. The main target is to reduce such forces to make houses safe and resilient.

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♦ Compressive Force

The force acting along weight of house perpendicularly which tries to compress construction. Compression pushes or presses an object so as to make it shorter and thicker.

♦ Tensile Force

This force occurs when two forces pull on an object in opposite directions so to stretch it and make it longer.

♦ Shear Force

Shear force is two forces acting parallel to each other but in opposite directions so that one part of object is moved or displaced relative to another part. To visualize shear is to think of how scissors works.

                  Most recommended building house material is use of steel reinforced cement mortar along with stone or bricks in rural areas. Although use of such material may be in reach within people living in remotest part of country. So we are going to discuss some of best frugal, locally available resources as well as earthquake resistive in construction. So everyone is free to disseminate this technique to people who will come handy during construction work in rural areas.

 ♦ Foundation

The foundation holes should be filled tightly with rocks and stone.

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♦ Flexibility of house

The corners are provided with reinforce of steel with concrete to increase strength against quake.

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♦ Walls

The through bricks or stones are to be used. Even walls can be reinforced with stones, woods, steels which grasps and helps to bind together. There should not be any gaps in walls simply we should avoid layer formation in-between walls which are prone to quakes.

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♦ Corners

The most shock and forces are applied on corners so we should use rods, frames of steel, through stone or bricks, frame of wood, wire mesh, weld mesh or expanded metal (Diamond Mesh) for reinforcement.

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♦ Windows, Doors and Other Open Space

There must be as minimum as possible windows, doors and open spaces. These should be far from corner of house. Lesser the open space stronger will be the house.

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♦ Materials used for construction of Walls

The material used for construction of wall should be smooth like bricks, stones, cement bricks. The use and priority should be given to use of concrete rather over mud.

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♦ Rooms

The room should not be of great height as well as too long. The width and length should be nearly equal.The thickness of room wall should be according to height and length of room.

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♦ Belt across walls

The belts are used to tighten grip around the wall and prevents it from falling. Wood, concrete or steel can be used for making belt across walls.

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♦ Roof

The roof should be strong from all sides. The roof should be properly tied with walls. The cross bars are used for proving extra reinforcement. The bundle of woods or dried grass are used for supporting and insulating from heat or cold. The iron sheets should be properly tied up with frames.

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• Beautiful and Strong House

The following points are considered for beautiful and strong house:

→ Iron sheets with J bolt

→ Cross Bars at roof

→ Wall belts

→ Small Openings

→ Use of through Stone, Bricks, Woods

→ Openings far from Corners

→ Supports for Tall Walls

→ Roof Tie

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            The information and details mentioned here are from my personal knowledge and interpretation which I learnt during seminar conducted by Association of Youth Organisation Nepal (AYON). The presenter were from People ‘s Science Institute Dehra Doon, India. For more info Visit:http://peoplesscienceinstitute.org. There is no issue of copyright and plagiarism so maximum share will help to reach to needy people. Plus images are in Nepali so hope it will help to reach in rural Nepal.

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Perspective of Housing and Buildings Before and After Nepal Earthquake 2015

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                       The Gorkha-Nepal earthquake 2015 with magnitude of 7.5 brought tremendous loss of life and property across 17 districts. Many buildings (specially heritage sites) could not bear tremor of earthquake, finally crumbled in mean time lots of structure are structurally damaged and potentially posses threat to live in. The major reasons of damages so far distinguished as far as my knowledge.

♦ What was Behind

• Structural Defects

            We have lots of civil engineer and construction experts produced annually within country and from various foreign country still we lack environment to utilize knowledge and expertise to use in practice. We lack good housing and building design ethics, consciousness among house builders. The trend of consulting contractors and suppliers is more than engineers by customers/clients.

• Introspection of rules, policies, codes, inspections, priorities

           Absence if present corrupt governmental bodies carryout inspections and implement rules, policies, codes on ground level. There is huge gap in design submission on departments and building different is common habit of people in Nepal. Initially they build house of multiple storeyed houses later compensate by paying fine or bribing government officials.

• Absence of consciousness and thoughtfulness in people

              People want to build house in short duration with minimum investment. The gap in engineering values while building houses are still lagging far behind people’s perception. They prefer for early maintenance rather making investment for long run. Narrow constrained mindset of people had to pay huge loss of life and property.

• Improper use of residential house for housing for commercial purpose

           There is general confusion about proper use of availability of space of house. Many buildings built for residential purpose have been used for commercial purpose. The continuos loads on beam and column makes foundation of building built for resident if used for commercial purpose. There are several cases of building collapse by this reason.

• Inadequate innovation to adapt into Nepali (local) Culture

            We do not have engineeringly inbuilt values in our traditional way of building house. The heritage sites mostly have aesthestic values but lagged in terms of strength and shock absorption. There should be integration of engineering knowledge into Nepali cultural and traditional way of buildings monuments and heritages.

• Faulty and Low Standard raw materials

            The use of faulty and low standard of materials for construction. People seek advice from builders for using materials rather engineers.We do not follow regulated and standard materials for construction. Our using pattern depends on availability rather than necessity.

• Gaps and Mismanagement in use of Expertise

                We have ignored use of experts views and limited engineering values just into listening. We have become experts of our own and start giving advice free of cost on random topic about building houses. Probably “little knowledge is dangerous” has been true in some sense to us. So lets stop acting like if we know everything, stop giving view and start listening to something too.

♦ What Has To Be Ahead

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• Effective implementation of 4R’s

            The most difficultly is of recognizing what we have to do with faulty buildings. This is not only headache for common people but for expertise too.So lets explore option which normally expert or techie people prefer to do.

• Repair

          This is done when building has some limited damages on outer surfaces and only after confirmation of no structural damages.

• Re-construction

          This is done when building has suffered trivial structural damages but still standing. There has been damages of particular beam or column so only those required are constructed.

• Re-Building

           This is done on absolute structural damages. If the building is tilted, crumbled, standing with support, even standing but foundation is beyond re-construction. The debris are removed and it undergoes similar process of building new house.

• Retrofitting

              This is process of supporting column and beam with extra reinforcement of steel and concrete. For carrying out this process analysis of stress, loads and forces are evaluated on various parts of building. It requires highly expert team of engineer and sophiscated technology which makes it lot more costly.

• Geo-Technical studies of Construction Sites

            We did not have any rules and regulation for studying strength of construction sites except for commercial buildings but we need this technique for residential houses too. The earthquake showed some are more prone to earthquake while some at least less. So geo-technical study provides information whether specific area can hold load of house being built. According to survey we can decide what type of building we can built in what kind of area.

• Regulated designs and evaluations

            The technology is fast evolving so is innovation in building design. We have efficient design enough to earthquake resistive. The challenges lies on implementation and evaluations of such design practices. This initiation of adopting technology, design should not be limited but followed for coming period.

• Innovative and Earthquake Resistance Building

           We have various housing system from village to cities. So it will be hard to completely adopt design given by others what requires is our own innovation which will keep our cultural and social values en-tact with housing system. Rather depending on their designs we can lend hand to modify and purify ours ways.

• Appropriate use of Engineering Values, ethics, codes and Expertise

         We need to implement engineering values, ethics, codes and experts in fields. Lets us not limit our manpower in office but wisely use them in field for construction.

• Quality and Standard Raw Materials

          There should be regulatory body to look after quality standard of raw materials. Proper implementation of procedures for manufacturing, traveling, inventory, delivering and using should be done. The use of proper materials only strengthen foundation and longivity of building life.

• Raising Awareness and Consciousness about housing in general people

           People must be aware about housing in general. They must recognize that cost is not only final things that has to matter in judging housing system. The focus on cost should shift to durability and sustainability. The earthquake have shook us all and we have learnt from it much. Hope this will be lesson for us so we can build safe houses for future.

                           The trend on housing is shifting slowly. Hope the process keeps on purifying better alternative will come out regarding building innovation not only in urban areas but also in rural parts of Nepal. We need to enter into new era of Housing Design and Resilent Buildings for Naya Nepal.