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Building a School, Building Resilience

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Right now, we have a GHI project in Nepal constructing an earthquake-resistant school building in the far western town of Budhitola in Godawari Municipality. It’s always exciting to watch such a tangible project take shape, to see the foundation dug, the rebar cages formed, and the concrete poured.

By the end of this year, the girls, boys, and teachers of this town will be learning in a safer space.

But, in fact, we’re doing far more than constructing one school building. What we’re really doing is building resilience: changing mindsets about risk, creating local ownership of solutions, and instilling skills in community members that will spread far beyond this building. This project is one small piece of years of work in Nepal focused on bringing systemic change.

Like all of our work, local leadership is an essential part of making lasting change. This picture shows the stone laying ceremony, which is the traditional way of starting a construction project in Nepal. GHI’s locally-based, Nepali staff is working with the school's Management Committee, the mayor, and our long-time Nepali partners who are leading the construction, The National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET). This work is being done by and for Nepalis.

As part of this project, dozens of local construction workers received training in earthquake-resistant building techniques. We make sure to include women masons in the training and throughout the construction. Our past work in Nepal indicates that these workers will apply their new skills to other building projects throughout the community in years to come. To share these techniques further, our partner, NSET, built an extra rebar cage to stand on its own outside the school, so anyone can examine the details that help make a building earthquake-resistant.

Godawari, the capital of Sudurpashchim Province, is located on a major road used to access communities further up in the Himalayas, and is well-located to spread the message about what was done to this school and why.

This message is critical because this part of Nepal sits in what seismologists refer to as a “seismic gap". It is an area that has not experienced a very large earthquake in centuries, meaning strain has been building on the major fault underlying this region. More and more people are at risk as the area's population grows rapidly and construction booms.

So, yes, we’re constructing a school building, but we’re also constructing communities empowered to reduce their risk long-term. This work takes years and a multi-faceted approach, some of it as tangible as the walls of this school building, some of it less visible but equally essential. Thank you for helping to make it all possible.

Warm Regards,

Janise Rodgers, Chief Operating Officer

GeoHazards International

Bhutan · Dominican Republic · Haiti · India · Nepal · U.S.A.

A special thank you to the generous individuals, foundations and corporations who donated to support this project including the ones shown below:

David Friedman & Paulette Meyer, Bruce & Karen Clark and the Ebbtide Family Fund, Gerry Postiglione, Tenzin Getso, AKRF and others.


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