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From the Ground Up Foundation

The earthquake that hit the central region of Nepal on 25th April 2015, devastated the country, took thousands of lives, and left many homeless. Following the immediate rescue and relief operations, several rebuilding and reconstruction projects were instated and the relief efforts that poured in was overwhelming, both from the government and non-government sectors. However, the need for significant continued assistance has been overshadowed by the political and economic turmoil that the country is going through. Reconstruction efforts from the government have been put to a halt and further pushed back. There is still a lot left to rebuild and put back together. 

In the wake of the destruction caused by the Earthquake, our team from Nepal started working towards rebuilding and construction. We visited places like Dharmasthali (Kathmandu) and Paneru Gaun (Dhading) doing construction work ranging from temporary sheds, more resilient shelters, to safety analysis and survey of structures in affected communities.

From our time spent in this work, among the many experiences and insights we gained, we came to the sad conclusion that many victims have been rendered incapable of rebuilding their homes for the next 5/6 years. With the current political situation being as it is, people affected by the Earthquake still have a long difficult road ahead of them. 

This motivated us to keep continuing our efforts and after a couple of months into our work, we were joined by new members who shared our drive for service, to current ‘From the Ground Up’.

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The team of “From the Ground Up” has taken a hands-on approach in all stages of the project, from inception to actual construction; working alongside the people in need, sharing knowledge, concerns and a few stories in the process. They are driven by the vision of helping build sustainable communities. They support grassroots participation, engaging locals in the process to develop a case sensitive project and a sense of ownership towards the reconstruction efforts. Their work is supported by funds collected from our international representatives and through our own local efforts here in Nepal. They have also been working to extend this donation pool so that they can continue to organize and execute the projects, so that sustainable, cost-effective, earthquake resistant construction continues across the country. Hopefully, they will be able to help the people get back on their feet as soon as possible.

There have been aid and relief efforts throughout the country but most have focused on the construction of temporary relief shelters. The team of “From the Ground Up” however, are concentrating on building more permanent structures that can withstand against future earthquakes. To put it into context, the average earnings of a Nepali household is NPR. 30,121 per month which equates to $287.14 [USD] (according to the Fifth Household Budget Survey conducted by Nepal Rastra Bank on 2015). Their expenses evaluated against the averages of transport costs, food, and general rates and other consumptions would approximate around 85% of the total earnings. To build a traditional Nepalese village home would cost approximately 1 million NPR. which is the equivalent of US$ 9532.88, which is just not financially achievable for most of the Nepalese. Temporary structures are great for the short term, but there just isn’t an economy here to afford permanent structures so there is an obvious need for help. Thus, they are here to introduce low-cost, sustainable building alternatives to help the people in need with a better housing solution. They have a belief that the low-cost construction method along with sustainable practices is the answer to living in such an active place where shift in the tectonic plates has such an impact. A study was conducted in the village of Ghumarichowk and surrounding villages and it is estimated that the villagers won’t be able to rebuild their own homes due to the cost of their traditional and conventional construction methods of brick, stone, concrete and timber for at least 5 years possibly more depending on circumstances. This isn’t acceptable and something needs to be and can be done to provide adequate sheltering for victims.

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Ghumarichowk disaster

Ghumarichowk is a Tamang community of almost 2100 people, with around 400 houses clustered along the hills of Manichud, on the north-east of Kathmandu Valley, 45 minutes uphill from Sankhu. After the quake, around 80% of the houses were uninhabitable, and so people were forced to live in temporary make shift shelters of tarpaulins and bamboo. A total of 3 people lost their lives in the disaster. We completed visual assessments (as per the rapid visual building assessment orientation conducted by NEA) of 46 houses, in the process of consulting and counseling the local residents as to the condition of their house. To assist the locals in reinstating themselves in better shelters, we proposed designs that can be easily implemented in the village. The designs focused on the concepts of sustainability, methods/techniques of earthquake resistant, local vernacular and economy in construction. The design of Shelter Type A utilizes the materials available on the site, a portion of which can be extracted from the ruins of the damaged houses. The house can be easily constructed by local craftsmanship at an economic cost. The foundation makes use of rubble dampers as a deterrent to lateral seismic forces. Along with this, horizontal ties are provided at sill, and lintel level to tie the whole structure together. In addition to this, although drawing from local sensibilities and approach to construction, the proposed shelter boasts better structural integrity, along with orientation and ventilation. The design of Shelter Type B is based on the use of earth-bag walls with the barbed wires in between each course, as instructed in the manual by Owen Geiger. The non-erodible mud rendered earth-bag walls stand on the compacted earth base with simple supported GI roofing or mud roofing. The design of Shelter Type C focuses on the use of bamboo as the main building materials.  The structure of bamboo mesh supported on posts stand on the stone footing with the simple supported GI roofing. The bamboo mesh is rendered with non-erodible mud plaster.



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