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Apr 11, 2016

Resilient Homes Final Report

AHV and Beneficiaries at Goodbye Ceremony
AHV and Beneficiaries at Goodbye Ceremony

All Hands Volunteers is pleased to report that the Resilient Homes (referred to locally as Hamro Ramro Ghar, or “Home Sweet Home”) project in Bansbari, Sindhupalchok successfully wrapped up on March 28, 2016. For three months, All Hands' team of local and international volunteers worked alongside beneficiary homeowners to build 50 earthquake resilient homes to replace those destroyed in last spring’s earthquakes. Highlights of the program were the opportunities for community participation and the construction of private sanitation facilities to improve the health and dignity of the community.

All Hands put in place training and educational programs not only to assist the community immediately after the disaster, but to leave a more resilient community behind.  Twenty-nine people (including 10 women) participated in masonry training under the direction of a government of Nepal-approved professionals. The new skills enabled the beneficiaries to be integrally involved in the process of recovery by adding walls of salvaged materials or hollow block to the earthquake resilient superstructure of their new homes. The trainees helped less able neighbors do the same, and now they have marketable skills in disaster resilient construction. Meanwhile, All Hands also facilitated a PASSA (Participatory Approach to Safer Shelter Awareness) program which took interested community members through a series of sessions to explore disaster risks and solutions in the community. By the end of the sessions, the PASSA groups had come up with micro-projects designed to make their communities less vulnerable in future disasters: rainwater catchment gutter systems, community lighting, and burying water pipes for protection. The community will implement the projects next month with seed funding and initial guidance from a small group from All Hands Volunteers.

Part of the needs assessment for the project included analyzing the ongoing sanitation situation in order to address serious health and protection concerns in post-disaster Nepal. Forty percent of the toilets in Sindhupalchok District were destroyed or damaged by the earthquake, raising the incidence of diseases like cholera, and increasing the vulnerability of women and girls. In the end, All Hands constructed 52 toilets in Bansbari, approximately half of which served those Home Sweet Home recipients whose toilets had also been damaged/destroyed.  The remainder of the toilets replaced other damaged facilities in the community. Each family with a toilet was given hand washing equipment (soap, buckets with taps). Because families in Bansbari share toilet facilities with neighbors, the overall impact is that now 356 people (73 families) have a access to the modesty and health benefits afforded by appropriate sanitation facilities.

In conclusion, despite challenges of accessing remote villages during a fuel crisis and working on the rocky, steep terrain, All Hands was able to empower community of approximately 130 families to take part in its own recovery – 210 people now live in safer homes, 356 people have access to proper toilets, and the entire community has been included in the process, either via PASSA, masonry training or receiving key messaging materials on safe building methods. In a final demonstration of commitment and caring, it was decided to gift the “training house” – a prototype structure situated next to the local school and which was used to train the volunteers and later the masons – to the community as a much needed school room. Together the All Hands team and community finished the walls, complete with cheery paint, and repaired the school toilet. The new classroom was handed over to Bhanjyang Primary School and the community during the goodbye ceremony on March 28th.

A heartfelt thanks you to our online Global Giving donors, who along with other donors, made it possible to rebuild hope and resilience in Bansbari!

Finished Latrine System
Finished Latrine System
Beneficiary Family in front of Makeshift Shelter
Beneficiary Family in front of Makeshift Shelter
New Bhanjyang School with Rain Catchment System
New Bhanjyang School with Rain Catchment System
PASSA Training
PASSA Training
Finished Temporary Shelter
Finished Temporary Shelter

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Jan 12, 2016

Resilient Homes Project Breaks Ground!

Foundation work on the first 2 resilient homes
Foundation work on the first 2 resilient homes

Ramp up work on Resilient Homes (fondly referred to locally as Hamro Ramro Ghar, or "Home Sweet Home") got started just after Christmas in the remote community of Basbari, which is in the Sindhupalchok District of Nepal. This is a mountainside community of six small villages. Most villagers are farmers, tailors or laborers and are very poor. Three of the villages are marginalized, in that their population is considered lower caste, and so they often receive less services than neighboring villages. Homes in this area were especially vulnerable to the earthquakes as they were constructed of stone and timber held together by mud masonry. Since the earthquakes, most of the families have been living in makeshift shelters.

During the first week of the project, All Hands staff and volunteers constructed the remote campsite where they will be living during construction of the homes. All Hands' base is a 40 minute drive down steep, poorly maintained roads, and during a crippling fuel crisis, it is not feasible to have the 20+volunteers and staff to commute daily. The team also began preparing profiles on the beneficiary families, to aid in the overall documentation and measurement of the project's success. 

So far, work has begun on six homes. The first two have foundations, superstructure, roof and walls.

As work began on the foundations, the first challenge (other than the fuel crisis which is impacting recovery efforts nationwide) became apparent: the soil is much rockier than in Kathmandu, where the pilot project had taken place. Because there are no construction machines on these remote cliff faces, teams work with hand held tools, so the timeline projections had to be adjusted to allow for a day and a half for  foundation digging, rather than a day only. This may not be an issue for all of the homes in the community.

Otherwise, the mood is positive, and the training in disaster-resilient construction will be beginning later this month, once the beneficiary profiles are compiled. The All Hands teams and resiliency trainers are involved in community building activities to pave the way for effective community involvement which will transfer skills in building back better.

Thank you for your donation; please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions.

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