Rebuilding Earthquake-hit Homes in Nepal with Earthbags

“A SCOTTISH entrepreneur is using a new slant on a century-old construction method to rebuild earthquake-devastated homes in Nepal. Derek Cowan and a team of volunteers are in the village of Thangpalkot, in the foothills of the Himalayas, on a mission to replace 86 destroyed homes.

Since he arrived in November, Cowan, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, has been utilising traditional construction methods which cost around £2,000 per house. Now he has turned to earthbags – a method first used for flood control and military bunkers more than 100 years ago.

“The more I read and researched earthbags, the more I thought they were a great option. I found a man who’s been trained by Owen Geiger – he’s going to build two homes with me. The cost is well under $1,000 and the great thing is it uses soil and a clay mix instead of cement. And these bags are piled on top of each other using barbed wire to hold them together.

“We are using all the old window frames and roofs from the destroyed homes so all the old materials are being used – we’re recycling them if you like.”

Cowan added that material for two homes could be packed into one 4×4, which reduced transportation costs from $250 to $100 per home.”

More at the source: The National
Help the Help rebuild 86 homes in Nepal.

8 thoughts on “Rebuilding Earthquake-hit Homes in Nepal with Earthbags”

  1. Hi Owen, thank you for your inspiration. I am currently in Cambodia working with another cause. When are you back in Nepal. I will be back for the end of March to continue building, it would be great to meet you. Thanks Derek

    • Sometime in April. The schedule is being worked out soon. Watch our blog for the announcement. Would love to meet up with you.

  2. Wonderful, glad all your hard work is now being understood by others. It’s using the leverage of yet more enthusiasts. Hopefully they will help get the usage of these techniques to its own tipping point so its seen as best practice rather than off beat.

    • Thanks. There’s a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to help spread this knowledge throughout Nepal. More updates coming soon I hope. If we can get earthbag popularized in Nepal then it will be much easier to spread this technology to other countries. There are disasters nearly every day somewhere in the world (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes…) and countless lives could be saved. Plus, earthbag is about the lowest cost housing in the world.

    • Thank you. I’ll probably return to Nepal in a few weeks and I hope to meet him and see his houses and some of the other many new projects there.


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