“A SCOTTISH entrepreneur is using a new slant on a century-old construction method to rebuild earthquake-devastated homes in Nepal. Derek Cowan and a team of volunteers are in the village of Thangpalkot, in the foothills of the Himalayas, on a mission to replace 86 destroyed homes.
Since he arrived in November, Cowan, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, has been utilising traditional construction methods which cost around £2,000 per house. Now he has turned to earthbags – a method first used for flood control and military bunkers more than 100 years ago.
“The more I read and researched earthbags, the more I thought they were a great option. I found a man who’s been trained by Owen Geiger – he’s going to build two homes with me. The cost is well under $1,000 and the great thing is it uses soil and a clay mix instead of cement. And these bags are piled on top of each other using barbed wire to hold them together.
“We are using all the old window frames and roofs from the destroyed homes so all the old materials are being used – we’re recycling them if you like.”
Cowan added that material for two homes could be packed into one 4×4, which reduced transportation costs from $250 to $100 per home.”