Everyone at CAN is only too aware that six month’s on from the first earthquake on April 25th, and with over one million pounds raised by loyal supporters for the reconstruction, it is imperative that plans for reconstruction are taken forward.
Glyn Utting, a Principal Project Manager on secondment from WYG in Leeds, has spent the past month in Nepal in order to undertake a thorough assessment of project damage following the monsoon – he was anxious to see if some of the sites had suffered further deterioration and to also draw up a realistic timetable for the reconstruction.
A lot of what follows is a precis of the very helpful reports he has been submitting and which Doug would like to share with everyone concerned via the website.
When Glyn returns his images will be posted – we are aware there is a lot of text in this report.
North Gorkha: Glyn was unable to visit this region but was able to meet with Tej at the CAN office in Kathmandhu where he caught up on the progress that had been made on the health posts at Prok and Bihi.
The standard set on the rebuilding is very high and the latest photos of the site will be posted when Glyn returns to the UK next week. The standard set here is such that all other projects will follow and Suman is to be congratulated on his attention to detail in incorporating the earthquake resistant measures requested. These are, in essence, to ensure the footprint shape is rectangular, to use ring beams with the regular use of through stones.
Visit to Helambu: Glyn and Graham Earnshaw also visited this area and spent some time in reconnaissance and Glyn’s verbatim report is below:
The health post is unoccupied but the villagers asked if we could bring the nurse back from Melamchi to see some sick villagers prior to the start of Dashain. Purna and Murari agreed this was sensible. I checked the crack above the Health Post and it has not worsened since our last visit. I conclude that given it’s the end of the monsoon weather the ridge is relatively secure.
Purna chaired a meeting with the Health Post committee and they all expressed a desire for the health post to be rebuilt where it is. I argued the landslide risk but they countered that all their houses are at risk and there are cracks everywhere.
The other argument is that they cannot afford the piece of land below the village as the owner will only sell the land as a whole and not just one small area required for the Health Post. After much debate I agreed that the decision would be down to Sunita and the nurses and as a compromise the villagers suggested that a small piece of land in a safer area could made available for the nurses accommodation so they didn’t sleep at the health post. I will discuss the above with Sunita and Murari.
Kesheb carried out a material survey and has ideas on how to rebuild on the same plot if the decision is made.
Milareppa School – responsibility for the rebuild has been taken over by Caritas with whom CAN will work in close cooperation.
We stayed at the village for 3 days to develop an action plan on how we can take this forward. Graham expertly led a measured survey and has drawn up the results in AutoCAD. There was an element of concern that Caritas, who have taken responsibility for all schools in the Helambu, will want to roll out a generic design but as Purna has produced a very detailed requirement this will be unlikely.
Rebuild timeframes will depend heavily on the road reopening but mitigation plans are in place to improve the existing temporary accommodation and school. In fact, because of limited road access and the ongoing fuel crisis it is not going to be feasible to have anything built prior to the end of the year. Having met with the Caritas team there is now confidence and reassurance that Melamchi will get an excellent school.
The timescales are longer than maybe we would anticipate but they will provide a legacy project and most importantly Purna has agreed the timescales. Construction will realistically begin in October 2016 as they will work up the design from January onwards and then not start construction till after the next monsoon. Caritas are heading to Melamchi in November and Keshab will accompany them, though if David Webber is available I would recommend David goes also.
Whilst at Melamchi we saw the original Boys Hostel design which varied vastly from the final building. There was significant short cuts taken on this design and Graham and I made Kesheb aware that it is important that short cuts are not taken. Given the earthquake this should be less of an issue but is something we should all be mindful of.
We did a measured survey of the Health Post and Kesheb will draw up potential designs for the rebuild. Graham may also have potential ideas for future Project Nepal involvement to assist. We also drew up plans to rebuild the women’s group meeting building (not funded by CAN but we provided a simple plan to assist in rebuilding).
Kutumsang – a partnership project with CAFOD
We again carried out a survey of the Health Post. Since the last visit the villagers have cleared most of the debris. I am still confident that the foundation can be reused with some minor works around the edges, particularly where existing walls were located. I will produce a separate report for this site and issue to Janet Crossley at CAFOD. Timescales for construction will again depend upon getting cement, timber and steel sheets to site. Kasheb will work up a design in the meantime.
We carried out a measured survey of the site. We now have a more accurate layout of the site boundary and believe it is sensible to build part of the school or accommodation to the front of the land area. This will need to be agreed with the
locals but in order to build single storey it is the only feasible solution.
The key issue on this site continues to be removing the existing concrete school and in all other sites the villagers form a building committee and the work force. Bahrabise is the exception and I may need guidance from Murari who would carry out demolition / construction.
The school comprises of 4 buildings and a toilet block. One of the four buildings has been destroyed and currently has a temporary building on its footprint. The other 3 buildings comprise of an 7 classroom L-shaped block and a rectangular 2 room block built 3 years ago and a rectangular 5 classroom block built 17 years ago. Firstly all 3 buildings are still standing but the oldest (17yr old) block is heavily damaged and unsafe and will need to be rebuilt.
The large L-shape block appears stable from the outside with damage to both gable ends but closer inspection of many of the timber clad walls shows they are buckling and under strain which leads me to believe the internal walls have collapsed and are being held up by the timber.
I feel strongly that the whole school should be rebuilt again with earthquake resistant techniques using stone and timber and it would be better to invest now to produce a stronger longer lasting structure for the future.
Ghunsa Health Post
On a positive note the health post has been repaired and from inspection is safe and structurally sound. There is a crack on the foundation where the L-shape intersects but it is not undermining the building and can be monitored going forward. Although the construction does not have the earthquake resistant techniques (through stones, ring beams etc) it is lined in timber panels internally and the stone work has been removed above ceiling height on the gable ends and provides sufficient safety that stones would not fall inside.
The stone work walls have held up well at Lapcha. There are some buckled walls along the long single storey school building that will need repairing. The main issue of this building is the roof structure. Firstly the roof is old with stone slates that leak. Given the timber beams are also old and generally poorly constructed I would recommend that the roof is replaced with new timbers and steel sheets. While the roof is taken down the damaged walls could be rebuilt.
All of the above report is tempered with the fuel crisis which rolls on and mixed with Dashain festivities transport is grinding almost to a halt but I am hoping to get across to Pokhara. Once there I will meet with Keshab and head up to Ghyamrang to produce a design and cost for the retaining wall at the school.
Ghyamrang School – Build a retaining wall to front of the school, Keshab and I have measured up the wall and the gabion cages have been purchased and the stones will be delivered soon. Keshab will provide design and instructions for build. I also recommend that the school requires some maintenance (new glass for broken windows, painting and general upkeep) and it would seem there is a need for more time to be spent in monitoring the overall management.
Rohiguan School – The existing retaining wall is still stable and Keshab and I recommend some cement and sand is purchased and a screed is laid at the top of the wall to ensure water runs off the edge of the wall and not down the cracks. This should future proof the school through the monsoon seasons.
As always the CAN staff continue to be a credit to the charity and form the inspiration for our endeavours.
Glyn Utting, October 2015
Doug would like to take this opportunity, via the website, to thank WYG for their extraordinary generosity in working alongside CAN and for enabling Glyn to develop the project management.
Everyone who knows the projects will understand the huge amount of work which lies ahead; Doug and Trish return at the end of November to see for themselves and to once again give support and encouragement to everyone.
On this trip they are going to be joined by Denise Prior and Anne Manger from CAN, staff members who will benefit from first-hand experience of the situation on site and Trustees David Webber and Dr Rob Lorge. In addition, it is hoped that Glyn will be in attendance to provide on going professional expertise.