Nepal Quake: Housing, Income, Environment Top Recovery Goals

Photo by Jake Lyell for CRS

You are here

This April marks four years since Nepal’s devastating 7.6-magnitude earthquake, which claimed 8,669 lives and destroyed more than 500,000 homes.

Nearly one-third of the country’s population—about 8 million people—were affected. CRS and our partner, Caritas Nepal, have been supporting some of the most-affected communities in Gorkha District, with a focus on technical assistance to rebuild safe homes, protect the environment during reconstruction and ensure resilient livelihoods.

Nepal earthquake survivors

CRS is helping Nepal earthquake survivors rebuild their homes and livelihoods. Photo by Jake Lyell for CRS

In the northern zone of Gorkha, 93% of homes were damaged or destroyed. Houses in the remote communities were largely stone with slate roofs constructed without the use of earthquake-resilient techniques. With little awareness of the government’s reconstruction support program, families rapidly unified after the earthquake to begin salvaging material and rebuilding each other’s homes. But their failure to use earthquake-resilient techniques will pose risks in the event of another disaster.

Also, because they started rebuilding on their own, they were disqualified from government grants, due to non-compliance with building codes and resilience techniques. In south and central Gorkha, many families were unable to rebuild, and lived in temporary shelters. They lacked the cash to pay for labor and materials, and moneylenders charged exorbitant rates. Also, a lack of skilled masons familiar with earthquake-resilient construction—exacerbated by the migration of many young men to other countries for work—required a gender-inclusive masonry training approach.

CRS and Caritas Nepal sought to enhance local knowledge and skills on earthquake-resilient construction, and increase income opportunities for affected families. CRS promoted design options that used local materials so that replication is ensured.

Impact to date

CRS also encouraged people to incorporate earthquake-resilient construction elements into traditional designs. CRS provided information and trainings, constructed demonstration buildings, and offered direct technical support. All shelter-related activities were aimed at contributing to the reconstruction and well-being of affected communities, including:

  • Advanced masonry training for 1,605 skilled masons, both men and women.
  • Basic masonry training for 1,012 laborers, both men and women.
  • Construction of 82 demonstration houses in 13 areas, to provide references for safe practices and construction techniques.
  • Door-to-door technical assistance to families and on-site masonry training.
  • Infrastructure rehabilitation through a cash-for-work system to improve access to local markets and restore community water supplies.
  • Staff training on structural and earthquake analysis software, and community appraisal techniques.
  • Instructor training on earthquake resilient construction techniques and government compliance checklist.
  • Training of local officials on QSAND, a tool for assessing the sustainability of reconstruction after natural disasters.

Community input

To prevent families from choosing cheaper, substandard materials, CRS and our partners monitored activities to maintain quality, and reinforced the importance of quality materials during household orientations and door-to-door technical assistance.

CRS used a comprehensive feedback mechanism to enable beneficiary families—especially marginalized groups—to share feedback on program activities. These supports and activities ultimately benefited 90,000 people

Watch this video to see how CRS teams live and work in the field.