Small additional investment in time and money can save a lot of grief

Small additional investment in time and money can save a lot of grief
Small additional investment in time and money can save a lot of grief

July 2008; Eighty elementary school children in Shramik Madhyamik Vidyalaya of Hetauda Municipality feel more secure and less worried about earthquake when they are in school these days. This is because their classrooms are in an earthquake resistant school building recently constructed with the support of the UNDP Community Based Disaster Management Project (CBDMP).

The total cost for the school building was Rs. 650,000 while CBDMP contributed Rs. 250,000, and the rest was contributed by the School Management Committee, Makwanpur District Development Committee, Hetauda Municipality and the local people who contributed their labour. The National Society for Earthquake and Technology (NSET) provided technical assistance .

The construction of the school building ' capable of surviving earthquakes of up to 6.5 on the Richter scale ' is especially timely, given that Nepal lies on a seismically active zone where the risk of massive death and destruction from a quake is very real and can happen any day.

The children, community members and construction staff feel that all buildings across the country should be built keeping in mind Nepal's high susceptibility to earthquakes, especially given that there is little difference in the cost. In the case of this school, the total cost of construction of the building in the earthquake-resistant load- bearing style was only 5% more than the cost of constructing a similar building in pillar style, which is not earthquake resistant.

Rajendra Karki, chairperson of the community-based disaster management group says, 'It is hard to communicate to locals here about the importance of building homes and office edifices that are earthquake resistant. However, given that this project was implemented with wide media coverage, we hope that more people will be inspired to constructing earthquake resistant buildings.' Shambu Dhakal, 14, a student at the Shramik Madhyamik Vidyalaya says, 'earthquakes can occur any time without warning. This step is indeed a sign of more awareness amongst ourselves and the general public.'

Shukra Ram Moktan, a social mobiliser involved in the building construction and a local college student added, 'due to the involvement of the community in this project, awareness among locals has certainly been raised on the need to build structures resistant to earthquakes.'

Engineer Satya Narayan Sah, who designed the building, explained that the building took about four months to plan and construct, only slightly more than that for a similar pillar style building. He remarked that the 'small additional investment in time and money can save a lot of grief.'