American structural engineer (left) and GFI Nepal Country Director Homraj Acharya (right) inspecting buildings in Kathmandu Valley.
KATHMANDU, JUNE 2 - In the wake of the earthquake in Nepal and its subsequent aftershocks, many whose homes remain standing are still electing to take shelter in open space outside. Many homes and buildings have survived the disaster intact, save minor damages and fractures, but most of their inhabitants remain anxious about returning indoors without an evaluation of the structural integrity of their homes. Families are waiting outside in makeshift shelters for local engineers to conduct rapid structural assessments to determine if homes are habitable.
The Nepal Engineers’ Association, among others, whose engineers are providing rapid assessments of damage to homes, has yet to reach thousands of families. In addition, many families do not know what work can or should be done to repair their homes and, therefore, are left waiting for a detailed assessment and repair recommendations from the already overstretched Nepali engineers.
The Brick Clean Group Nepal (BCN) and the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) have organized two teams of eight engineers with experience conducting rapid and detailed assessments after natural disasters, such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand. In coordination with Nepal’s Ministry of Urban Development and Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, the teams of engineers arrived over the past two weeks and have covered 130 locations across the Kathmandu valley and Kavrepalanchok and Sindhupalchok districts including some of the areas most severely damaged by the earthquake.
To date, the engineers have conducted over 3,000 assessments, helping families, small business owners, students, teachers and medical teams return indoors with the peace of mind that their family, businesses, hospitals, schools and public buildings are safe. After buildings were assessed and found safe for operation, management was briefed on the next steps. The broadest possible scope of Nepali building styles have been assessed, from traditional mud-brick homes to recently engineered structures, to enable the engineers to provide a report to the Government of Nepal on common issues and challenges in current structures and recommendations on safe building construction in the future.
GFI and BCN, in conjunction with engineers from the NEA and MinErgy, have been working to assess upwards of 200 homes day in the Kathmandu Valley along with detailed assessment of large complexes such as hospitals. The work of the engineers has directly impacted an estimate of at least 75,000 people. GFI and BCN are committed to provide the technical engineering resources to assess Nepali homes and businesses affected by the quakes. Once the severity of damage is properly assessed, the next phase of reconstruction can begin to build Nepal back right.
by E. Jose Perales