“First Steps Himalaya constructed an earthbag Education and Training Centre just prior to the massive earthquake that hit Nepal on 25th April 2015. The building was constructed using proven earthbag construction methods utilizing polypropylene sacks, barbed wire, steel rebar and earth. The building stood up to the 7.9 magnitude earthquake as well as a 6.5 magnitude local earthquake that followed soon after.
Whilst most of the surrounding houses were seriously damaged, the newly built earthbag building only had a few cracks in the plaster. FSH believes that earthbag building is an economical, eco-friendly and earthquake resistant construction method to rebuild damaged schools and houses. Not only are earthbag buildings earthquake resistant, but they are constructed using local, natural materials. This avoids purchasing and transporting bricks produced in the highly polluting brick kilns of the Kathmandu valley.
Earthbag buildings tend to flex and distort during an earthquake rather than suddenly collapse as wood framed, brick and concrete block structures do. Barbed wire and plaster mesh hold the bags together in case of collapse, thus greatly reducing risk of people getting crushed. This strategy could save countless lives over the current building methods used in Nepal.
First Steps Himalaya is planning to rebuild damaged and destroyed schools in rural Sindhupalchok using earthbag building technology. We are also looking for partner agencies interested in rebuilding houses. First Steps Himalaya can train partners in the technique and coordinate with communities in Sindhupalchok most in need.
First Steps Himalaya has used the expertise of Owen Geiger, a world leading expert on earthbag building. Owen helped with our original build and is offering free workshops for NGOs in northeast Thailand. For those unable to get to Thailand, Durga Aran of First Steps Himalaya will be in Nepal in early September to begin rebuilding the schools in our project area. First Steps Himalaya will be offering interested individuals and organisations the opportunity to learn how to use this method with hands on training. This will involve 7-10 days at Sangachok, Sindhupalchok (2 hours drive from Kathmandu) of physical building work to learn the necessary techniques for safe earthbag building.
It is important to point out that earthbag building cannot be done in the monsoon season. The earth turns to mud and is unworkable. The main issue however is that earthbag walls should not get wet during the building stage and need to be covered in tarpaulins until the plaster goes on.
Please note that building plans should be drawn up in conjunction with experienced builders and should be checked by an earthbag expert. Buildings should be one storey reinforced with steel rebar, barbed wired and a bond beam. Buttresses should be used on longer walls to provide extra strength.
Read this article on our Earthbag build.
Watch this TV news clip: http://www.3news.co.nz/world/earth-bag-building-still-standing-after-nepal-quake-2015050316#axzz3Z70cjyzh
We look forward to hearing from you.