Nepal gears up to build earthquake resistant structures using bamboo

01 Mar 2016

   TwitCount
Agni Prasad Sapkota, Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation of the Government of Nepal delivers his Opening address at the National Consultation Workshop on Bamboo for Sustainable Post-Disaster Reconstruction in Nepal
Photo credit: Rajendra Shakya

In an effort to address Nepal’s post earthquake housing crisis, a new initiative is harnessing the country’s abundant bamboo resources to rebuild devastated communities and promote sustainable livelihoods. On 25 April 2015, a large earthquake left over 300,000 Nepalese homeless. Over 730,000 structures affected by the earthquake are now in need of upgrading.

The initiative is funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and implemented by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in partnership with the Government of Nepal, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and ABARI, a research and design firm that promotes the use of natural materials in contemporary design practices.

Participants of the National Consultation Workshop on Bamboo for Sustainable Post Disaster Reconstruction in Nepal
Photo credit: Rajendra Shakya

Over the last 15 years, INBAR and private sector partners in Nepal have developed a number of modern bamboo building systems that meet international ISO standards and have excellent antiseismic properties. These systems and the related technologies are now mature and can offer an affordable, durable, highly renewable, and rapidly deployable source of building materials for Nepalese communities affected by the April 2015 earthquake. They have received wide recognition and have been implemented in many reconstruction activities in post earthquake Nepal. 

The sustainable use of Nepal’s 63,000 hectares of bamboo forests will help generate local employment; reduce vulnerability to future earthquakes as bamboo has higher tensile strength than steel and greater compressive strength than concrete; remove the need for imports, as construction material will be sourced locally; and protect foreign currency reserves.

“This workshop has come at an opportune moment in the current post disaster context. Bamboo is a multifaceted material that can be used not only to help in land restoration, but also in earthquake reconstruction as it is light weight and strong,” said Agni Prasad Sapkota, Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation of the Government of Nepal. 

“Bamboo is an amazing resource that combines high tensile strength with rapidly renewable properties,” says Hans Friederich, INBAR’s Director General. “Used strategically, Nepal’s ample bamboo resources could provide safe, earthquake resistant housing for the homeless, while kick starting a green economic revolution that offers jobs, opportunity, and a sustainable recovery.”

During the workshop, participants highlighted the various post disaster programmes currently being undertaken in Nepal and discussed potential opportunities to scale up and incorporate CFC project models into larger post-disaster reconstruction programmes.

“The sustainable use of bamboo in reconstruction efforts can help Nepal ‘build back better’,” said Basanta Shrestha, Director of Strategic Cooperation at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), “And this initiative will provide information to key stakeholders on how to put this technology to use.” He also highlighted the Centre’s ongoing support to earthquake recovery and reconstruction through the development of an integrated information platform, support to hazard mapping and assessments, development of a framework for resilient livelihoods in earthquake affected areas, and setting up a ‘smart mountain community’ model village.

The national workshop on ‘Bamboo for Sustainable Post Disaster Reconstruction in Nepal’, held in Kathmandu on 1 March, emphasized the importance of bamboo in reconstruction efforts to a wide range of stakeholders – including ministers and officials from the government of Nepal, industry experts, and representatives from nongovernmental organizations and civil society.

The current CFC project will build 150 homes and ten transitional schools by May 2016. So far, the project has obtained government validation and approval of the bamboo based school design, which will be one of the designs recommended by the government. “Building schools with bamboo is both climate smart and economically viable. This bamboo based school design promotes the use of local materials, integrates traditional values, and can help strengthen the local economy,” said Madhav Karki of ABARI.

For more information please contact:

Nripal Adhikary, INBAR: nripal@inbar.int 

Baya Agarwal, INBAR: bagarwal@inbar.int

Nira Gurung, ICIMOD, nira.gurung@icimod.org