15 July 2015
It's been almost three months since two massive earthquakes struck Nepal. Our initial focus was on providing urgent food and shelter to communities who had lost everything. Now, we are helping to rebuild homes, schools and livelihoods. So far with our partners we have supported communities to construct 950 temporary shelters, distributed 3,300 storage bins to farmers so they can keep crops dry, and created 14 fully functioning safe spaces for women.
Minesh Gurung, a 30 year old Nepalese civil engineer working with ActionAid, describes his work overseeing the construction of safe, temporary shelters in Sindhupalchok district.
“When I first came to Sindhupalchowk it was much worse than shown in the media. I had expected damage but not as huge as I saw. All the houses had turned into piles of rubble and dust.
Constructing safe shelters
We developed a basic plan to construct temporary shelters with my leadership, and then started coordinating with the community. The most important thing about constructing temporary shelters is that they are safe. We follow standards and teach the local people how to follow them too. We guide people on how tall the roof should be and where the doors and windows need to be placed.
At first, people were suspicious of our advice. Then a few days after the second earthquake, there was a dangerous wind. Some temporary shelters that people had built on their own were blown away. Many people spent the entire night awake worrying about their shelters.
People then realised the value of following our technical instructions and started listening to us very carefully. Now we have six technical overseers and people are really excited to have our support.
Recycling salvaged materials
We have been using local resources that are available in abundance and are recycling salvaged materials from destroyed homes. We reuse doors, windows, woods and whatever is possible from the collapsed houses, because it is economical.I’m motivated by my work because I like helping people. When I started with ActionAid I learned how to collaborate with the community and I got to know the people who had been affected really well. I like working side by side with the community. Helping them rebuild their life and lifestyle is my motivation.
I want people not to worry. I want them to be able to move ahead with their daily lives as soon as possible. Building these houses also helps with people’s trauma. I like that I can help free them from the tension.
The houses that we have built can last for a couple of years. But in the long term, Sindhupalchowk needs good economic and technical support that they can develop a good disaster resilient community.”