27 June 2016
In April and May 2015, two powerful earthquakes struck Nepal, killing 8,000 people, injuring more than 21,000, and leaving scores without shelter amid devastated communities. In the wake of the disaster, we pledged £20,000 of resource and expertise to help Community Action Nepal (CAN) with its reconstruction programme.
CAN is a UK based charity that was founded by British mountaineer Doug Scott CBE to provide education, healthcare, and social welfare to the mountain people of Nepal. All 40 of CAN’s community buildings were damaged, and, in some cases, entirely destroyed by the earthquakes.
Our role has been to provide technical skills and project management expertise to help CAN plan and deliver the post-earthquake rebuild programme. We have supported CAN by first helping them to plan their approach, drawing on our experience of setting strategy for major and complex programmes of construction work. We deployed a geologist and civil engineer with the expedition to survey the damage caused to CAN structures. We then facilitated the agreement to the designs and build techniques, re-establishing traditional methods and materials which provide greater resilience to future seismic activity, and can be built and repaired by the local craftsmen within each rural community.
The second phase of our support was to put together a realistic programme of reconstruction. Our focus was on identifying which schools and health posts needed repairing or rebuilding the most urgently and then coordinating the activities necessary to make them operational again as quickly as possible.
Key to this was the community meetings we attended to get an understanding of the local needs, in order to prioritise the building work, and coordinate its successful delivery to suitable standards. We then helped CAN recruit a local architect and engineer to oversee the detailed design and delivery in Nepal. This is such an important aspect of CAN’s desire to provide a sustainable platform for the enduring provision of education and healthcare to rural areas of Nepal.
Throughout the past year, three of our geological, engineering, and project management consultants have travelled to Nepal on four separate occasions. Simon Eden, Senior Geo-Environmental Consultant, and Glyn Utting, Principal Project Manager, joined the first assessment expedition in July 2015 following the disaster, facing difficult monsoon conditions to access the most remote villages.
Glyn Utting has returned twice since to follow progress and appoint a skilled local workforce of architects and engineers. He stresses the fundamental importance of using local skills for these tasks: “It is essential for the long term success of the programme that the reconstruction is driven by local people. We are here to share knowledge and good-practice, but, ultimately, the engineers and architects working on the projects should be Nepalese.”
Will Pearson, Graduate Project Manager, has been deployed twice to help coordinate the rebuild activities, check standards and report on progress.
Our aim is to provide enduring support to CAN through the full rebuild programme and beyond. The experience of working with CAN has been hugely rewarding for our team, and through the support he has provided, Glyn Utting had the honour of being appointed as a Trustee of the charity in March 2016.
Over the coming months further trips to Nepal are planned, and we are now engaging other skills from our staff such as renewable energy. It is also our intention to host the CAN engineer and architect in the UK as part of a knowledge sharing programme, so that we can continue to contribute to recovering and improving the lives of the Nepalese communities.
For a full account of what has been happening since the earthquakes, you can read ‘One year on – CAN reference and progress report’
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