First Steps Appeal for Help in Nepal

Earthquake damage in Nepal
Earthquake damage in Nepal

“We have launched an urgent appeal to help provide relief for FSH supported villages in rural Nepal devastated by the April 25th earthquake. We are deeply concerned about the welfare of the children and families supported by First Steps Himalaya in our 22 project villages.

Please donate to help us rebuild the lives of rural children affected by this major tragedy. In our project village of Sangachok there have been fatalities and houses are in rubble. Our Nepali Director and charity founder, Durga Aran’s own village of Jitpur is in ruins, with the 6.7 aftershock toppling the last remaining walls of any buildings left standing.

This is a catastrophe for Nepal that will take years to recover from. First Steps Himalaya is dedicated to helping rebuild communities, not only our schools and early childhood centres, but the lives of the precious children we support.”

April 29, 2015 update: “Can only give you very brief update right now, because so much going on. Can tell you earthbag building has withstood the quakes. Second 6.7 aftershock demolished 90% of all other buildings. Most villages are flattened. Many deaths and bodies in the rubble. Terrible situation. Earthbag building has only a bit of plaster cracks. We believe it will be used in upcoming time as a shelter for people there. They can use it for whatever is most helpful. It is a roof over their heads still standing. I can’t give you more info at this very moment. We are fully intending to promote earth-bag construction as the way to re build on a large scale. Please keep in touch.”

Best regards,
Kate Cowan
First Steps Himalaya email:
First Steps

Helpful links for earthbag building in developing countries and disaster prone regions:
Step-by-Step Earthbag Building Instructable
Earthbag Natural Building YouTube channel shows every step of building with earthbags
Earthbag This is our main site with all the best articles, videos and other resources.

11 thoughts on “First Steps Appeal for Help in Nepal”

  1. Patty
    This is exactly what we did..besides the long strand barb wire we also put rebar at sensitive joints .
    Windows ,doors according to the earthbag manual that Owens supply us..
    Not knowing this could really happen here..but Durga from this charity organization and also a local here in Nepal was pretty smart..

  2. That is so encouraging to hear that an earthbag school is standing to provide shelter to the ravaged community. Cracked plaster is actually a very good thing- the cracking absorbs some of the vibration force, and the plaster can be repaired easily.
    It is critical to use long barbed wire, and the strongest earth mix available. Weaving the barbed wire out the corners and back in for 60 cm is also important in seismic risk areas.
    The news says the quake was 7.8; earthbag might not have survived a stronger quake without some extra rebar and other special reinforcement. It is very important to check the risk level that experts say your area has- A first step is looking at this USGS website:
    Any building to resist quakes must be done very carefully.

    • Fortunately, this school building has rebar pins down through the wall and barbed wire between courses.

      I have some more good news. I’ve contacted every large earthbag project and have heard back from most of them. So far every earthbag structure is intact with only small damage or no damage. Some of the areas had 90 – 100% destruction of their villages. Obviously this creates a very compelling case in favor of rebuilding with earthbags. I’ll compile all the details in the coming days and weeks and pull together a grant proposal. Hopefully the government and some major NGOs will support this effort.

  3. This building is only 2 months ago..when were building ,Durga told me they never have big earthquakes..been 80 years but he decided to build it as if he need too.
    Important part is the barb wire ..he took his time and we used long strands of barb wire to make sure it was well tied together worked…
    The clay bricks are of low quality and so is the wonder the devastation.
    I stayed in such building there..
    These people really need help..they are already so running water..low on food..almost no

    • Yeah, this is a national crisis. Let’s hope those in the government have enough sense to rebuild more safely and sustainably. We’ll soon know if the other earthbag schools and houses in Nepal survived intact. If so, then there will be a powerful body of evidence in support of rebuilding with earthbags.

  4. When you have the opportunity, I’d love to see a post on before and after and info on which types of reinforcement were used on the earthbag building there. I live in an earthquake region (central mexico) and It would be beneficial to see real results on how well a reinforced earthbag house withstood a strong quake and how much reinforcing was done when it was built.

    Having a real documented example would be of great benefit here especially when I need to submit plans to the municipality. Everyone seems to think that ugly expensive concrete block structures are the only option and I’m more interested in reinforced adobe and/or earthbag.

    I’ve been reading through the information on the site, but I’ve never seen info on How resistant they are (to what magnitude of quake and with which strategy).

    • Reinforced earthbag walls are one of the strongest building systems in the world. Unfortunately it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to do all the required tests. Obviously no one so far has the money to pay for all these tests. All we have are small tests done by master degree students, etc. So there’s no way to answer your specific questions since the testing data is not there. However, we know it works. There’s lots of related research available like the reinforced adobe house research. Earthbags are clearly stronger than adobes because they can flex. Add rebar pins down through the bags, reinforced bond beam, etc.

  5. This sounds about as bad as the earthquake in Haiti. Losing 90% of structures is very serious. No doubt we’ll be getting a lot of emails for help. Please read through the links above. Kelly, Patti and I have already compiled everything that’s needed to rebuild with earthbags after a disaster. Our website Earthbag should be particularly helpful for rebuilding in developing countries.

    Special message to engineers, architects and other building professionals. Earthbag and strawbale building are not taught in school and so design professionals have a somewhat hard time grasping some of the concepts. The main idea is earthbags and bales are more resilient than rigid materials such as stone, bricks, concrete blocks and wood framing. Earthbags and bales will flex and relieve the stresses without falling apart. Please check out our Testing page at Earthbag for more details. Feel free to write if you have questions. My email is at the top of the page under About Us.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.