It has been five years since that morning on 25 April 2015, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal and northern India. The earthquake was the worst disaster recorded in Nepal since the 1934 earthquake.
According to the UNDP, an estimated 9,000 people lost their lives while another 23,000 were injured. Damages and losses came to a total of almost US$7 billion.
8 million people were affected, with some 500,000 buildings and homes destroyed, and more than 250,000 structures partially damaged across 31 of Nepal’s 75 districts.
Yet, help still has not reached many of those affected. The government is requesting support for 67,000 homes, but the actual numbers may be even higher.
Rice bag houses (RBH) are the solution that Operation Hope has been implementing for the past two years. Rice bag houses are homes constructed of empty bags. The bags are easily transported to rural villages – mostly in mountainous, hard to reach locations. They are then filled with earth and stacked upon each other, held together with barbed wire. The houses are plastered and a roof added. They can be customized easily and added upon. The methodology can also apply to building community centers or other types of buildings.
WHY RICE BAG HOUSES
Simple: Rice Bag Houses are easy to construct, skilled masons not needed.
Lightweight: In the hard to reach mountainous regions of Nepal, it is a major benefit to not have to transport heavy bricks, rebar and cement. Empty bags, wire and roofing is all that is required.
Cost effective: 50-75% cheaper than the alternative building options. RBH are approximately $3600 USD per 220 sq ft home.
Expandable: The Rice Bag House can be customised and expanded outwards and upwards
Earthquake resistant: As compared to the alternative of stone and mud, these homes are earthquake resistant.
Adaptable: The interior remains cool in summer and warm in winter
OHF has built and trained villagers to build 150 houses to date. Aside from the ease of building materials, rice bag houses are great for the community to help one another and build together. OHF runs training programmes where one house is build with the entire village and then subsequent homes are built by the villagers themselves. OHF remains involved to supervise and creates a ‘shopping list’ for materials and vetted vendors, materials and prices.