US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz and Social Welfare Council officials joined Habitat For Humanity Nepal and its partner organizations on a visit to Pipaltar of Kavre District see the progress being made in the reconstruction works.
Ambassador Teplitz, who in October 2015 had worked alongside Habitat’s Women Build Council volunteers and community members to clear the rubble from an earthquake ravaged area, praised the “tremendous recovery rate” at the same site a year later.
Ambassador Teplitz took a tour on October 25 around the earthquake reconstruction site in Pipaltar of Kavrepalanchowk district, where Habitat For Humanity Nepal and its partner organizations are supporting families build new homes.
Social Welfare Council Vice-Chairperson Nilmani Baral, the council’s Member Secretary Dilli Prasad Bhatta and USAID Deputy Mission Director Amy Tohill-Stull also observed the progress at the Pipaltar site. Rick Hathaway, Habitat’s Vice-President for the Asia-Pacific region, who is in Nepal to monitor Habitat’s work in the country, was also part of the group visiting the Pipaltar reconstruction site.
At the start of the tour, Habitat staff informed the group about the overall progress made since the construction of houses began at the site a year ago.
After the briefing, the group gathered around a recently built house. Habitat’s technical officer explained the design of the house and the materials used for constructing it. The ambassador seemed particularly impressed by the fact that the materials used were cost effective in terms of availability, affordability and disaster resilience.
The team then stopped at a higher ground from where one could get a nice view of the construction site. The ambassador joked whether the project started building homes from the top and went to the bottom or did it have any criteria for choosing households for construction. The project staff explained that elderly, lactating mothers, and households with small children were given the priority. “You mean the vulnerable members of the community,” the ambassador pointed out.
Next, Ambassador Teplitz visited a site were volunteers from the US were helping in the construction of a house under Habitat’s Global Village program. “It’s really nice to see American volunteers committing their time to the recovery efforts in Nepal,” said Ambassador Teplitz and thanked the volunteers for serving those in need.
At the Housing Support Service Center in Paanchkhal, the project team and the technical staff informed the delegation about the counseling and technical support and guidance being provided to the local community members on disaster resilience.
At the mock up site, the mason trainer explained how trainee masons get hands-on-training on the various method used for constructing earthquake-resilient house.
“Are the laborers trained by the project able to sell their labor outside,” Teplitz asked.
“We have no data on that but they should have no problems finding jobs once their skills are upgraded,” answered the mason trainer.
Later, the group arrived at the site where Compressed Earth Blocks, an eco-friendly and cheaper alternative to traditional bricks, were being produced.
“Impressive! Looks like it is a great alternative to bricks,” said the envoy. “It is quite inspiring to see the spirit of the community. What a great example you guys are setting for others to follow for the recovery efforts,” said Ambassador Teplitz.
Out of 87 homes that were destroyed during the earthquake in 2015, Habitat Nepal, Partnership For Sustainable Development and Architecture Sans Frontier have been able to complete the construction of 43 houses through their joint efforts.
The construction of the rest of the houses are set to complete by March 2017.