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Learning how to build back safely

Six months on from the Nepal earthquake, Red Cross is training carpenters in earthquake-resistant building techniques.

Friday October 23, 2015

Farmer Les Bahadur Raut, who lives in Sunkhani village in Dolakha, is keen to learn safer building techniques. Photo: IFRC/Bishnu Kalpit

Nepalese farmer and stone mason Les Bahadur Raut built his two-storey stone house in the 1970s. It was damaged in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck in April, and collapsed entirely during a 7.2 aftershock, killing his elderly mother.

Six months on from this tragedy, Les is planning to rebuild his home using earthquake-resistant building techniques he is learning through Red Cross' construction training.

"I've signed up for both carpentry and masonry training. They're training us to build long-term houses in our traditional style, using wooden beams, L-shaped panels and locally available stones. We really like the training," he says.

Watch Les Bahadur Raut talk about his plans for the future

There is high demand for the training, which will help people not only rebuild their own houses, but also earn a living helping others in their community to rebuild theirs.

More than 900,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, so shelter has always been a priority for the huge earthquake response carried out by Nepal Red Cross, with support from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement from around the world.

"Our 8,000 volunteers went instantly into action with search and rescue and first aid. We distributed tarpaulins and blankets from the stock we had ready in our warehouses as well as supplies as soon as they arrived by air and road. In total, we reached more than 620,000 people," says Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, Nepal Red Cross Secretary General.

Six months on, the country's task of repairing or rebuilding is enormous. Negotiating land tenure can be complex; the logistics involved in transporting quality building materials to remote communities is costly; and many of the able-bodied young people needed to help have migrated to the capital or abroad for work - ironically often on building sites.

As winter approaches, one of the main humanitarian concerns is how families living at high altitudes will endure the coming months. Many have lost their thick-walled homes and are living in temporary shelters that offer little protection against the cold. Red Cross plans to give blankets or cash grants to families so they can buy warm clothing.

Over the coming 18 months, Red Cross aims to support 700,000 people in their recovery. This will include restoring water and sanitation facilities, rebuilding health posts, and helping people rebuild safer homes and resume their livelihoods.

With Rosemarie North, IFRC

The Nepal Region Earthquake has now closed. You can help people in Australia and further afield to cope with disasters by donating to ourĀ Disaster Relief and Recovery work.