Imagine a builder who spent their whole life building houses in their town for family, friends and other people they know. The builder is approaching old age when suddenly an earthquake destroys a lifetime of work in seconds or minutes. Even worse if loved ones are killed or injured in the quake. Try to imagine how it would feel to have all those years of hard work wiped out just like that. The people of Nepal, Haiti, Indonesia, Philippines and Vanuatu were poor before disaster struck. It’s hard to imagine what people are going through now and how they cope.
Fortunately, there is a bright side to this sad event. About 60 earthbag structures in Nepal are intact with little or no damage. None were destroyed to my knowledge. That’s amazing when you realize about 90-100% of the surrounding buildings were destroyed. I’ve contacted all the main groups in Nepal who have built earthbag schools, dormitories, houses, orphanages and other buildings. As bad as the earthquake was, it has shown how strong earthbag buildings are. This tragedy can be a new beginning for Nepal if they rebuild with earthbags. It’s not as unlikely as it may sound. The people in each of these villages know about earthbag building and now they are asking for help to rebuild this way. They have seen firsthand earthbag buildings are disaster resistant, as well as low cost and simple to build. For example, where First Steps Himalaya built their new earthbag school, it’s the only building left standing in the whole village. The building crew for Edge of Seven, who have completed six major earthbag buildings such as schools, are now fully trained and able to do their own projects. Provide local workers with the necessary supplies — bags, shovels and few other tools and they can do the work themselves with minimal training. For sure, locals can’t afford to rebuild with concrete.