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Major rebuilding challenge ahead for Nepal

Helping local people safely and effectively rebuild homes in disaster-struck Nepal will be a major challenge, a key charity figure has warned.

Care International has sent teams to Nepal to help with the immediate relief effort after two devastating earthquakes in quick succession left thousands dead and damaged homes and critical infrastructure.

However the charity said its attention was also focused on rapidly educating people on how to safely salvage materials, demolish existing buildings and rebuild resilient homes for the future.  

“What we’ll be distributing in the next week, together with an organisation called Disaster Waste Recovery, are leaflets on safe demolition and safe management of rubble,”  said Care emergency shelter team leader Tom Newby, who is now stationed in Kathmandu.

The devistated village of Barpak

Source: Care International

The devistated village of Barpak

“People will be demolishing their homes and trying to salvage as much as possible over the next few weeks, and it’s incredibly dangerous.

“It’s really important we get information out to people about standing back and using ropes to pull things over and taking things apart from the top down rather from the bottom up. Really basic things but we need to get this information to them really quickly.

“I saw yesterday a seven or eight year old child with a sledgehammer, standing on the roof of a building while he smashed it to pieces below him.”

In major cities and towns, there are systems in places to inspect damaged buildings and recommend courses of action. But Newby warned that in many rural parts of Nepal, this process could take too long, leaving a risk that people will take matters into their own hands.

“We have to be pretty quick off the mark to make sure the support we’re offering is at the speed which suites the way people are rebuilding,” said Newby.

Concrete-framed buildings in Kathmandu have largely been spared the worst of the damage, according to Newby.

But he said that in rural communities, construction of houses was often more rudimentary, with load-bearing masonry walls typically constructed from stones and mud mortar, timber roofs and heavy slate tiles.

Newby said choosing what information to give was a sensitive issue, for example with lighter roofs that would perform better in an earthquake not suited to the climate and culture.

“There is a huge issue as to how we give the technical assistance to people so that they actually rebuild them in a more resilient way,” said Newby.

“There are all sorts of technical inventions which we should be promoting, but there is a limit to what we can get people to actually adopt. We have to be very targeted about what are the key messages that we promote.

“If we try and tell people to do everything then we’ll fail as they have limited resources and quite often they’re up a mountain.”

Care Construction Challenge

Charity Care International has again launched its annual construction challenge.

The outdoor adventure sees teams of work colleagues from across the construction industry compete across a marathon distance on foot, bike andcanoe. Money raised from the challenge goes to fund the charity’s life saving work to fight poverty and injustice in some of the world’s most vulnerable places.

This year the challenge takes place on 4 July in Carsington Water Country Park, close to the Peak District. Participants have been promised surprises along the route to test mental agility, communication skills and team work. For more information on how you can help aid efforts such as the Nepal earthquake and join the challenge see their website here.

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