Nepal Earthquake

by The dZi Foundation
Nepal Earthquake
Nepal Earthquake
Nepal Earthquake
Nepal Earthquake

We are pleased to inform you that construction of the 8-classroom Sishu Primary School in the extremely remote village of Maheswhori, Nepal has been completed. Thanks to your very generous support, 219 students are studying in safe, light, and clean classrooms today. 

We have prepared a full donor report with photographs and detailed financials, and have attached it below. Please let us know if you have any questions or would prefer to have the report in a different format. 

Once again, we are extremely grateful for all the ways in which GlobalGiving supports our work. Thank you.

Ben Ayers - on behalf of the dZi Foundation team.

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Community members volunteer and break ground
Community members volunteer and break ground

The GlobalGiving community generously sponsored the construction of an earthquake safe school using innovative new technology in one of the most remote communities in Nepal. There have been some significant challenges involved with this project, but the school is now very close to completion. The following offers an overview of the process and current status of the project.

Sishu Secondary School is the only secondary school in Maheswori, an extremely remote subsistence farming community in the northern part of the Khotang district. Over 520 households in Maheswori, and few of neighboring villages, depend on Sishu Secondary School for their children’s education. The school hosts around 230 students every year. The previous secondary school in Maheswori was badly damaged by the earthquake of 2015, rendering it unsafe for students and staff. dZi Foundation built a Temporary Learning Center immediately after the earthquake to allow the school to continue with classes while a new school project was developed. The generous funds from GlobalGiving have been used to construct a new earthquake safe, 8 classroom building.

We are rebuilding 4 school blocks, 2 classrooms in each block, for Sishu Secondary School. The school blocks are being built with Light Gauge Steel (LGS) technology, which would be the first of its kind for that region. It is a globally proven earthquake resistant technology and best suits the local topography and conditions. The successful completion of the project will ensure the safety of 232 present students of Sishu Secondary School and more generations to come.

Reconstruction of the school was scheduled to start in August 2016, but significant challenges arose with the very bureaucratic school design approval process. This resulted in significant delays and the project broke ground in January,2017. Despite the delay, the reconstruction work is now very close to completion. At this time, LGS frames have been installed and the cladding of the wall and roofing with CGI sheets has been completed. Community members are now working on the final plastering of the internal floor and installation of doors and windows. We expect the project to be completed in the next week or two!

Community members will then focus on post-construction site clearance, planting trees around the site, and a public audit of the project, which allows for full community transparency and input on the entire process, including appropriate use of funds and materials. We expect to completely hand the project over to the community by the end of the June!

This project has been a very challenging one on many levels, but it is the kind of work dZi Foundation does and does well! That said, we cannot do this alone; we need partners. The community members of Maheswori have worked incredibly hard to realize this dream, and the Global Giving community’s generosity made it possible. Thank you to everyone involved!

The foundation wall for one of school blocks
The foundation wall for one of school blocks
Light Gauge Steel (LGS) frames being installed
Light Gauge Steel (LGS) frames being installed
The LGS school blocks all coming together!
The LGS school blocks all coming together!
The school blocks very near completion!
The school blocks very near completion!
Namaste Global Giving!
Namaste Global Giving!

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Breaking rocks to gravel for a school foundation
Breaking rocks to gravel for a school foundation

Dear GlobalGiving Partners --

The construction of our current partnership project, the earthquake-safe Sisu Secondary School serving over 230 students in the remote village of Maheshwori, Khotang, is underway. We are using innovative Light Gauge Steel technology for this project, and we are very excited about how this new approach will change the way we build more schools in years to come! In the near future we will have more to report on this school specifically, but right now I want to recognize the recent International Women's Day and share an inspiring and beautiful story that one of our full-time female staff members wrote and took pictures for.

It has never been easy to be a woman in Nepal. For centuries, women there have faced unequal treatment under the law, in general society, and in the home. However, this is starting to change. At dZi, we owe so much of our success to the wisdom, strength and efforts of the thousands of women who participate in our work across the globe.

"A village cannot prosper without first involving women," says our Deputy Country Director, Ang Chokpa Sherpa. "Men in the villages often leave to find work. Women are the ones who stay, and they receive the most benefit from projects such as clean drinking water systems and agriculture. This makes them invest in the projects and the future of the community."

At dZi, we specifically train women to construct and maintain our complex gravity-fed clean drinking water systems. "Maintaining drinking water systems is seen as a man's job. But we don't see any reason that women can't do it. Once we train them, they do a better job than then men!" adds Ang.

And she is right. Our drinking water user committees, farmer's groups, local NGOs, and other community groups are often led by women who are redefining the role that women can - and must - play in shaping the future of Nepal's rural communities. We are so proud to be a part of this.

To learn more about how women in rural Nepal are changing their own communities, click on the line below for the full story and many beautiful images from the field!

Thank you so much for your support! Mark and the whole dZi Team

A woman and her Water Buffalo
A woman and her Water Buffalo
Learning to thread steel drinking water pipes
Learning to thread steel drinking water pipes
Weaving sacred cloth from stinging nettle fibers
Weaving sacred cloth from stinging nettle fibers
Plowing fields is no longer just a man's job!
Plowing fields is no longer just a man's job!
A woman in traditional dress harvests millet
A woman in traditional dress harvests millet

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Community member transporting materials
Community member transporting materials

Overview

dZi Foundation has been working in very remote communities in Nepal since 1998. Our work has made a tremendous impact in these communities, which have seen little or no support from the Nepal Government or other sources. dZi Foundation and Global Giving have partnered to build an earthquake safe 6-classroom building for the Sisu Secondary School in the very remote community of Maheshwori in Khotang district, Nepal. This school has a total of 12 classrooms, 6 of which were damaged beyond repair by the April 25th, 2015, earthquake. This new building will provide a safe and child-friendly learning environment for 284 students each year studying in grades one to ten. This project will build upon the combination of our experience with earthquake safe design and construction, and our long-standing connection to the community of Maheshwori.

Project Need:

The village of Maheshwori is one of the most remote inhabited communities in Nepal. To reach here, one must walk for nearly two days from the nearest reliable airstrip or road. The communities here exist much as they have for centuries, depending upon subsistence farming and traditional healing practices.

The earthquakes on April 25 and May 12th of t2015 totally destroyed about 1/3 of all homes in Maheswori; the remaining 2/3 were all damaged and needed repair. Additionally, some 70% of all public infrastructure including schools and community buildings were totally destroyed. Miraculously, the earthquakes both occurred on days when schools were not in session, saving students and staff from major injury, or worse. Some children in the community were injured in the earthquakes, and parents, staff and students alike reported significant fear around returning to school. The Sisu Secondary School is the only option for young children in Maheswori, and children already walk upwards of an hour from their homes to reach there.

Construction of a new, safe school will go a tremendous distance towards helping community members heal and attend school without fear, and will ensure that students can continue with their education. Again, this building will serve 284 students from an extremely poor community. The final classrooms will be bright, clean, and provide an excellent learning environment for students. The building will be constructed to a rigorous engineering standard that is designed specifically to withstand future seismic shocks.

Strategy:

This project will be implemented in a manner modeled after our proven earthquake safe school construction techniques. The building will incorporate a site-specific design by a certified engineer, and will incorporate techniques and guidelines established by government bodies including the Department of Education and the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET).

As with our previous earthquake safe school building construction projects, this project will also be completed with substantial amounts of local contribution. In the past, community members have donated extremely high levels of local materials and labor to our projects - equivalent to nearly 15 % of the overall project budget. The community in Maheswori has committed a similar amount to this project.

Activities and Anticipated Outcomes:

dZi has finalized most of the preliminary work leading up to the actual construction of this school. We are currently procuring and transporting materials to the project site. Below is a high level timeline for the project as a whole:

  1. Design and estimation of the projects by certified engineer - July 2016.
  2. Meeting with the School Management Committee, parents, and community members to form a local Construction Committee - August 2016.
  3. Pre-construction trainings given to local masons, and construction committee members; community members mobilized to begin local contribution of materials and labor – December 2016
  4. Procurement and transportation of building materials; construction of actual school building; providing regular oversight and monitoring for quality of construction – December 2016 - June 2017
  5. Final reporting, building inspection and certification by engineer, and public audit process – July 2017
  6. Coordinating with district Government agencies to register the earthquake resistant school building construction, and handover to local school management committee - July 2017
  7. Monitoring and Evaluation of the project outcomes – Ongoing.                                          

In summary, with Global Giving's direct support, dZi Foundation and the community members of Maheswori are beginning an important new project in one of the most remote villages of Nepal. Upon completion, 284 students will study in safe classrooms, and their vulnerability to injury from further earthquakes will be greatly reduced. Students, staff and parents will no longer be afraid to attend school, and the quality of education will be improved through a significantly improved learning environment.

Thank you to everyone involved in supporting this project. We will update everyone with photos and stories from the project once we actually break ground! Happy New Year and Namaste from everyone at dZi, both in Nepal and the US.

Locals digging foundation for a school
Locals digging foundation for a school
Transparency:Public Audit banners at project sites
Transparency:Public Audit banners at project sites
Students in a damaged and unsafe classroom
Students in a damaged and unsafe classroom

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"We can't close the school windows."
"We can't close the school windows."

At dZi Foundation, we are proud of our mistakes; they are what help us learn to do even better. We go to great lengths to listen to community members, to learn from our past experiences, and to troubleshoot before we begin new projects.

We strive to be a true learning organization, and to be flexible and agile so that we can respond to changes as they occur. One of the major sources of learning for us is our project evaluations. We evaluate each project and collect community feedback to understand impacts, challenges, and what we could do better next time. When looking at our evaluation data, we noticed that 70% of evaluations noted that the timing of projects was a significant challenge.

Last year, we made a massive organizational change to address a need that community members were voicing subtly over a number of years. As a US-based organization, it made sense to pin our fiscal year to the standard Western calendar that starts on January 1st. This made financial record keeping and yearly auditing much easier on the US side, and we aligned our Nepal office records to match.

Accordingly, our projects all broke ground in January – right in the middle of the dry season. This then only allowed for five months of good weather before the monsoon rains began – not enough time to complete a major construction project like a school.

One unintended consequence of this short timeline meant that the wood used for construction often did not have time to properly dry after it was cut to specifications. This led to warped window and door frames which would only close with great effort.

Monsoon is also a time where community members are extremely busy working in the fields to plant their annual rice harvest. Asking for local contribution to projects during this time would put undue pressure on local families, not to mention the fact that working in the rain is miserable.

Travel and transporting materials during the monsoon is extremely dangerous due to flooding and extremely slippery trails. Projects that carryover into the monsoon put local community members at greater risk of injury while contributing local materials.

In response to this clear message, we began the process of shifting our official fiscal year to match the Nepali fiscal year which begins in July. This required a fair amount of juggling and reworking our financial systems – but it was well worth it. We officially began our new fiscal year on July 1st, 2015.

Changing our fiscal year, and in turn the timing of our project cycle, has made our construction work even stronger and more in sync with the natural seasons in our partner communities. Now, our community partners can prepare for the construction season by purchasing materials and preparing construction sites during the monsoons. This is followed by eight months of continuous good weather and the bulk of construction happening when community members have more time to contribute.

While something like when we choose to close our books may seem at the outset to have little bearing upon the lives of our community partners, it can actually make the difference between a door that opens or a door that is permanently shut. We are certain, as well, that this isn’t the last aspect of our work that will need to be reflected upon and improved. Indeed, we are looking forward to our next mistake – as this provides us with another opportunity to listen, to learn, and to do even better.

Transporting materials in Monsoon is challenging!
Transporting materials in Monsoon is challenging!
Our old Fiscal Year and Project Cycle
Our old Fiscal Year and Project Cycle
New Fiscal Year is much better for project cycle!
New Fiscal Year is much better for project cycle!

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Organization Information

The dZi Foundation

Location: Ridgway, CO - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Jim Nowak
Ridgway, CO United States
$46,401 raised of $95,000 goal
 
421 donations
$48,599 to go
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