Nepalhilfe Beilngries e.V.

32 Jahre Nepalhilfe Beilngries e.V.

Rehabilitated school buildings shape up

April 2015’s enormous earthquake in Nepal left 9000 dead and ten thousands injured, it also crippled the country’s infrastructure and destroyed uncounted buildings. the epicentre lay in Sindhupalchok district, about 80 kms north of Kathmandu. This is also the area where a large number of the schools of Nepalhilfe Beilngries can be found. 14 of them were totally destroyed or damaged. This has upended member’s schedules for the past two-and-a-half years. Since then, the priority has been on raising donations in order to repair the massive damage as quickly as possible.

Following the earthquake, Nepalese authorities first issued a ban on construction work and, quite rightly, inspected all buildings for soundness and earthquake resistance. It was to take almost a year and a half of  tortuous administrative process until the government finally gave the green light for reconstruction. Nepalhilfe Beilngries attempted to make the best possible use of this delay and so worked with its local coordinators to commission a civil engineering practice. Its remit was to inspect each building independently of the government, to record damages and to stipulate appropriate safety concepts for reconstruction.

Cost increases prove a burden

Costs had originally been forecast at 900,000 euros but have since risen to a seven-digit figure. This is not surprising given an inflation rate of about 10 per cent and an enormous demand for building materials have put upward pressure on prices. Reconstruction has now begun thanks to the donations collected to date. Much has evolved and changed since at all building sites. In July 2017, construction finally started at was Michi Dachler School in Kadambas, which together with the school for the blind in Chautara, the administrative seat of Sindhupalchok District, has been the special focus of the Beilngriesians’ activity. This is because Michi Dachler was the first of currently 28 schools to be funded by Nepalhilfe Beilngries, and because the boys and girls living at the school for the blind can be considered doubly handicapped following the quake.

White turns into yellow 

The hope is now that there are no more additional delays, whether caused by government or by another extreme monsoon season such as the country experienced this year. Barring such obstacles, the end of next year should see the status quo before the quake. Makeshift buildings made from corrugated iron and bamboo, which still host classes today, will then be retired.

One change is visible even now: rehabilitated schools sport a bright yellow colouring instead of the former white-and-blue livery. Witness the Shree Bandevi Lower Secondary School, which used to form part of a joint building also housing the school for the blind. Unlike the latter’s, Shree Bandevi’s concrete structure was sound enough to warrant rehabilitation and serve as the basis for the new building. The same is true of the Shree Irkhu Lower Secondary School at Irkhu with its 600 pupils.

Groundbreakings and grand openings

While the monsoon wrought havoc in other places, Nepalhilfe’s institutions were  mercifully spared, though blocked sections of the country’s path and road network, sketchy at the best of times, hampered the supply of building materials and furnishings for weeks if it did not make it outright impossible. But things could have been a lot worse considering the state of other regions in the country, and so late October saw one groundbreaking and several inaugurations of completed school buildings.

And so the perspective is to the future. Sanjaya Sapkota, the engineer in charge, has drawn up plans which will only see the light if donors keep  on donating (Reference „Earthquake“. Sales of the new „Himalaya 2018“ calendar, available from October, should also generate additional revenue.