A blog by Devendra Babu Tiwari – Founder/owner @Mango Tree, permaculturist, canyon guide and a natural builder
Well, it turns out that it is possible to build Earthquake resistant building using Earthbag Technology in Nepal. You do not need fancy tools or expensive building material. But, be aware, it is not all that easy building with this particular method which requires laying bags on a gravel foundation, digging the dirt right underneath our feet and into the double woven polypropylene bags or tubes. Before you move on to the next course you have to tamp the bags with all your mighty force with a tamper and repeat the process all over again until you reach your desired height. The main component is a four point barbed wire placed between each rows and columns of earth bag wall which gives the building its tensile strength and if you use the continuous roll instead of single bags, it adds more strength to your building as you eliminate the joints and adds more tensile strength as the bags are one long piece.
Initially, on paper, i figured that it will be cheap to build earthbag houses. After many years of research, while i was studying and working in the UK, and after the twin earthquake of 2015 made more sense to me to give this method a try and promote it. I finally made the jump and started building a small Earthbag home, for the sweet old lady from my community here in Chiti VDC Lamjung, i found some hidden surprises associated with the build.
With my current project in Lamjung, things did not go smoothly as i planned. It did not help when nature itself put us through the harshest and the darkest times of our lives and unofficial embargo by our neighbour, India, did not help the situation at all. It felt like we were banging our heads against a brick wall. Everything was a struggle. Everything was outside our control and out of our reach. But like they say, there is always a light at the end of a tunnel. The embargo now has been lifted, political turmoil is slowly receding. We can buy food, supplies, petrol, gas etc and some of us can once again move on to enjoy normal life condition.
After the aftermath of the 2015 April/May earthquake and the unofficial embargo and political turmoil which went on for 6 months., as Nepalis, we faced great challenges. At times, it brought us almost to our knees and made it almost impossible to help others as the situations demanded a huge financial commitment to carry out rebuilding homes as prices for everything just sky rocketed & scare! No petrol, no diesel, no cooking gas……….it was just the worst thing that could happen to a nation just ravaged by the earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks did well to play further havoc. They were way too powerful. It just kept coming for months – almost everyday but it is less frequent these days.
I suppose, i could have built a house for grandma krishna like the way so many other people are doing but if you know me, i don’t like to do something that i have no interest, desire or trust. And my philosophy in life would have not permitted me to do so too.
I have always tried to abide by one rule in my life that is if you want to do something, you must do it right and do it properly otherwise what’s the point! I am not perfectionist but i have seen many people trying to build houses for the earthquake survivor but the end result are quite shocking and sickening as they don’t fully finish the house and do not understand all the nitty gritty that comes with building a safe and beautiful homes that you can be proud of building.
That’s not helping in my eyes, you are playing with people’s lives! Forget about the need for a solid foundation, I ask people, what good is a house with no windows, doors, proper ventilation, floor and etc ? Would you live there? If not, then, how can you expect others to do the same! After all, if you are a half yogi like me, then you will probably agree that Life is life, we are all connected, we are all one! Being Rich and Poor has nothing to do with how big your account is. To me.it is just a matter of how you preceive things and feel in this world!
Being a Nepali, i feel more than ever that we have to not just rebuild houses, we have to rebuild lives too and it takes time, money and serious commitment.
Well, it’s nearly middle of March. We started our build on Christmas Day and i am running into the third month of my build and finally, nearly, so close to putting up the roof over our Grandma Krishna`s Earthbag Home
It has not been easy to have come this far. Someone once told me, it takes at least a year to build a proper home and i do not disagree. I am not saying it will take that long with our build but being a professional natural builder, i can not stress enough the facts that huge care and planning must be taken into account prior to, during and after building homes as people’s lives depend on it!
Our Earthbag house will look awesome once i am done with it. It will be something to be proud of for everyone who have supported this project. Furthermore, i also seek help with future projects, special projects, as i travel this beautiful land as A Common Nepali and build more lives in a country that we Love so much and keep on spreading the knowledge and need to build safe, beautiful and natural homes in rural Nepal, to the end! There are many ways one can go about build Earthbag building. The key thing to always remember is that if you are not having fun building it then you are doing it wrong!
For me, it’s spiritually important that we keep on building with natural materials which does not cost the Earth and inspire others to do the same so that people, on Earth, may actually have a future after we are long gone from this planet!
So, here i am asking you to donate to a genuine meaningful projects as we desperately seek funds to help Grandma Krishna as well as so many other on the same boat. Since last week, things have taken an unexpected turn in Grandma Krishna life. She has now fallen ill with a really bad heart condition, suffered a serious heart stroke and doctors have now discover some sort of water clot in her heart. Now more than anything, we want to quickly finish the build so that when she comes home next week from the hospital she will have a safe house to rest. So many of us have selflessly volunteer our time, money, blood and sweat to build this sweet old kind Grandma Krishna and her grand kids – a safe Earthquake Resistant Home which they can enjoy for years and years to come.
Thank you from bottom of my heart for all of you who have supported Grandma Krishna Earthbag house project! You all are my Heroes!