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Earthquake Response and Reconstruction

Neil Noble
related country: Nepal
related country: Nepal

Can you tell me who to get an engineer to assess the safety of houses within Nepal so that people can return to their homes, for those that still have homes.

Following on from the recent earthquake in Nepal and its neighboring countries, I have been contacted by an organisation that will be helping people either return to their homes or be involved in reconstruction new homes.

Practical Action can bring some experiences from the earthquake resistant housing work done in Peru, in terms of approach rather than the specific housing technique, and bring some of the lessons from the work in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami but we do not have immediate access to engineers that can assess the safety of buildings.

You can see some of Practical Action's material at

Any contacts very welcome. Neil

7 Answers

Harriette Purchas

Hi Neil,

RedR has been working closely with several private sector organisations under our Ready to Respond project to develop a framework for technical specialists to give support to NGOs in emergency response, creating a technical 'Hub' of expertise in the UK. The private sector organisations involved all have international networks and work globally. We're quite a way from having a proper structure put in place but with the current disaster in Nepal we are gathering a list of potential technical specialists who could provide support. The logistics of how they could provide it will be worked out on an individual basis at the moment but we will hope in the future to have this standardised. I can contact you off line to provide you with these details.



Harriette, Could you please inculde me in this correspondence for other incoming queries of this nature. Many thanks Pauline

RedR TSS gravatar imageRedR TSS ( 2015-04-29 14:53:45 )

Hi Harriette It would be great if you could contact me off line. The situation is not totally clear although some of our Nepal staff have been into the office and there in some capacity and are wiling to link up with others with similar objectives. I'll try to keep them informed through our regular channels. Neil

Neil Noble gravatar imageNeil Noble ( 2015-04-29 16:40:12 )

We have a small team conducting emergency relief in Kavre, Lalitpur and Rasuwa. We are an education charity and of course we are now doing something completely different. Any good contacts or people on the ground we can co-ordinate with would be amazing - some of our children and their families are in a desperate situation and we are out of tarpaulin altogether. We also need better modes of transport to get there. We have had an amazing response to our emergency appeal so money is not a problem except that our team cannot access it as there is not enough cash being released. Any capacity for collaboration on this would be great. Thanks

Joey Owen gravatar imageJoey Owen ( 2015-04-30 10:54:42 )

For low rise domestic housing I would recommend working with local contractors. This would have the advantage of involving the private sector in the early stages of the response, and may contribute towards early recovery, promoting employment of skilled labour. The added advantage of this approach would be the familiarity local contractors would have with existing local building codes. Working with local contractors would also give you access to established local networks, including knowledge of planning and zoning regulations. Such a network will be invaluable as the situation normalises.

From the perspective of quality control and project management, I would look for someone with some experience of construction project management, and ideally some experience of FIDIC contract forms.

For public buildings such as schools, hospitals etc., I would agree with the reply posted by Chris Nixon. Such buildings require someone with specific knowledge, training and experience, and the early objective for the response should be to coordinate with local authorities and institutions such as the National Society of Earthquake Technology. Also have a look at the Earthquake Risk Reduction & Recovery Preparedness resources (Gov't of Nepal & UNDP)

ALNAP have produced an assessment of the Haiti shelter response which contains useful lesson learnt from a panning and programme design perspective. If I were in your position I would try an use as many local resources s possible in the initial stages. These are likely to be cost effective, quick and efficient.

Best of luck.

John Cody

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From: Sent: ‎Tuesday‎, ‎28‎ ‎April‎ ‎2015 ‎13‎:‎43 To:


Everything you say makes sense, but I would like to add a cautionary note relating to remote mountain areas of Nepal.

My daughter has volunteered in a village that is so remote and impoverished that the government-funded school has never been inspected, taxes are not collected and the relevant building code has not been enforced. Sadly, there are reported to have been over a hundred fatalities in two adjacent villages. Two aftershocks almost directly beneath the villages did not help, as they must have traumatised the communities even if they did not do much further physical damage.

In such a context, it may be that local builders are ignorant of the building code. I am currently reviewing Nepal National Building Code 203: 1994 Guidelines For Earthquake Resistant Building Construction: Low Strength Masonry( and Earthquake Resistant Construction in Jammu & Kashmir( ...(more)

Alan Stinchcombe gravatar imageAlan Stinchcombe ( 2015-05-04 16:15:38 )
Rémi Kaupp

Hi Neil, I know Emergency Architects ( ho do excellent work in assessing buildings to allow (or not) the safe return of occupants. They have great experience in earthquake-proofing and damage assessment. I'm not such a fan of their reconstruction work (disclaimer - I used to work there doing reconstruction!) but the emergency part is very useful.


Hi Neil, I can't put you in touch with any engineers, but for reconstruction, are you aware of Nepal National Building Code 203: 1994 Guidelines For Earthquake Resistant Building Construction: Low Strength Masonry ( and Earthquake Resistant Construction in Jammu & Kashmir ( ?

Both of these include laced bearing wall construction using “horizontal bands” (section 10.2 of the former) or ladder-like "seismic bands" (section 9.4 of the latter).

Lighter weight infill-frame construction may be useful for upper storey(s). Although the former does not include this, the latter does (see section 13.2(B)). In rural areas, bricks and cement mortar are less affordable, but infill with small stones is also possible with suitable mortar.


Highly sought after human resource right now I guess, maybe look for people involved in the Haiti emergency response?

A good educational resource is this though: (as far as I can tell as a person not trained in this)

Ruth Haynes


I could put you in touch with a localish (Bangladesh) engineer; Tim Khan FICE has much experience in Katmandhu having done the seismic retrofit of the French School there.

I am Engineering Director of a UK engineering consultancy and we could do pro-bono inspections for you.

I have some local knowledge and I would imagine the local building code is rarely applied an enforced.

I was involved with inspections of garment factories in Bangladesh in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster. What we found was that

a) buildings had not been designed for wind loading or seismic loading b) buildings had not been built to drawings c) materials were not as strong as specified.

Nepal will be very similar to Bangladesh. There is obviously a difference between tall reinforced concrete buildings and low rise, masonry vernacular buildings but an experienced Engineer would know what to look for and could quickly assess many buildings and make recommendation.

My experience of lay people looking at buildings is that they either

1) panic unnecessarily 2) are too cavalier about a crack!


I am in the Zone of Earquake from Ecuador(Portoviejo, Esmeraldas City, I am of Citizen Spain andTechnical in Engineering Civil, have study in treatement in water apeciality University europe, whem you can help for help to the vitimes of earquake

Gustavo Plaza A Spain


Immediately following the Earthquake the authorities in Nepal undertook an assessment of structural damage and safety of buildings in Sindal Palchouk and Gorkha. I am sure a similar assessment was undertaken country wide as at the time it was linked to compensation payments. At the time individual structures were marked according to a sliding scale of damage, so a record of building safety exists at district level, probably with the VDC authorities, and an assessment methodology exists. There is also a pool of experienced assessors, again your best bet would be to contact the VDC's.

You could also contact the institute of Engineering in Trihuvan University. Prior to the Earthquake UNDP ran a project training contractors and engineers in Nepal's Earthquake resistant building codes and I believe established an register of competent personnel, so contacting UNDP would also be a good option.

Best regards

John Cody

John Cody gravatar imageJohn Cody ( 2016-05-06 10:42:17 )

I own a UK based Engineering Consultancy.

We could possibly do some pro-bono work to set up a scheme for assessing buildings with the long-term work done by Nepalese engineers.

I'm also a member of S.A.R.A.I.D which worked in Nepal last year and was involved with the assessment of garment factories in Dhaka after the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013.

So, 'capacity-building' of engineering expertise in Nepal, with work overseen by a professional engineering company regulated by UK rules and Instituations.

Please look at for our expertise.

Ruth Haynes gravatar imageRuth Haynes ( 2016-05-06 11:36:33 )