This is only one of the many issues with the production of these bricks, more include: unstable work conditions, child labor, and deforestation.
We strive to support the Sindhupalchowk region in rebuilding sustainably with local materials. Our volunteer team works alongside local community members to produce Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) at The Takure Training and Production Center. The earth blocks are composed of local soil, sand, and a small percentage of cement.
Our CSEB have already been used to complete The Siddhartha Primary School and a senior center. They are currently constructing a community center, orphanage, and homes in the surrounding community.
The Training Center currently provides fair, full-time employment for over a dozen local Nepalis. These jobs allow locals to work within the community and stay with their families..
Ultimately we envision The Training Center as a self-sufficient, Nepali run business which can function as a national hub for local, culturally-relevant, sustainable, earthquake-resistant, and affordable technologies in building.
In collaboration with Back to Earth, an organization specializing in earthen building, we are building a rammed earth office and meeting hall for the local women's financial cooperative. The Women's Co-op currently functions as a micro-finance group with approximately 730 members from various households in the Nawalpur district. Each month, the women pay a membership fee of 100 rupees (1 USD) which qualifies them to apply for loans anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 rupees. Most families in our area are practicing agriculturists whose work simply provides enough for basic necessities. These loans allow opportunities to invest in livestock, provide simple necessities for their households, or manage a medical emergency. Rammed earth is an ancient building method which is simple to construct with local materials, affordable, strong, and durable.
In collaboration with Back to Earth we recently began construction on an earthbag home for one of our Training Center employees, Sunita Tamang. Sunita has been raising her three children on her own while working full-time since she lost her husband.
Earthbag construction is an inexpensive method using mostly local soil to create structures which are strong and can be quickly built. Once plastered, the earthbags will remain safe from water and solar degradation. This will be the first demonstration of earthbag technology in our area.
It has been two years since the ground shook and hundred of thousands of families in Nepal lost their homes. Now the dream of rebuilding is finally coming into fruition. The government recently began distributing foreign aid funds for rebuilding, which will be allocated overtime to insure earthquake resistant construction.
The process of rebuilding is slow but one we are committed to. Families from the village have begun to express interest in rebuilding their homes with CSEB, in which we're excited to support them. We've recently delivered bricks to the first home which will be sustainably rebuilt with CSEB and are currently mapping the land for more.
Our volunteer team worked alongside local skilled masons to rebuild the Siddhartha Primary School using CSEBs produced in Takure. Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEBs) are load-bearing. However, the existing steel structure survived the earthquake, but the stone walls, which were built around the steel, were badly damaged. Our team demolished the remainders of the previous walls, built extensive retaining walls around the site, and prepared foundations for the new CSEB walls. We built three units which provided six classrooms, an office, and three latrines. The school, reinforced with rebar, now provides a safe learning space for approximately 60 students and was our first demonstration of alternative building techniques.
Many thanks to architect Fred Dolmans, of GroundUp, a registered architectural consultancy that offers professional design expertise and sustainable solutions in locations around the world.