Sample Assessment of DFID- funded school retrofitting, repair and reconstruction in Eastern Nepal

Introduction

Nepali people are constantly exposed to two or more types of disasters at any given place and time (MoHA and DPNet 2009). The most common disasters in Nepal are earthquakes, floods, landslides, drought, fires, avalanches, glacial lake outburst floods, hailstorms, thunderbolts, cold waves, heat waves and epidemics. Above all, the country is highly vulnerable to earthquake, floods, landslides and fire. Nepal experiences frequent fire, flood landslides minor and earthquakes and occasional earthquakes of very high magnitude in an average span of 75-100 years. The country is not only prone to disasters, but also has buildings and infrastructure constructed without proper adherence to safety standards which make them vulnerable.

Rough terrain, complex topography and remote locations pose serious challenge for sound and quality construction in hilly areas. Lack of awareness in the general public about the seismic vulnerability of the area have led to haphazard planning of urban settlements and construction on areas prone to landslides and ground settlement. Unavailability of building materials and their expensive transportation cost have caused use of various sub-standard construction materials.

The findings of the Kathmandu Valley earthquake vulnerability assessment survey carried out in public schools in 1998 were very alarming: The study showed as much as 60% of the public school buildings is highly vulnerable and risky to use even in normal conditions. In the recent, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale has affected the eastern region of Nepal, as well as the capital of Kathmandu, on 18 September 2011. According to the National Seismological Centre, the epicentre was east of the Nepal-India border of Taplejung and the India State of Sikkim. A total of 18 districts were affected by the earthquake, which caused 7 fatalities, 72 people severely injured and hospitalized. The statistics showed 6,300 houses/buildings completely destroyed, 8,300 partially damaged and more than 14,600 families with 38,000 people unable to return to their homes[1].  It was reported that up to 60% of schools and health posts in some districts were severely damaged[2]. This shows the urgent need to make safe and disaster resilient school buildings and other infrastructures for children and everyone.

In response to such a situation, DFID has launched a four years programme which includes retrofitting and reconstruction of damaged school buildings during the September 2011 earthquake in Nepal. The basic principle of rehabilitation/reconstruction in recovery process after disaster is to build back better and also as possible to make community and infrastructures disaster resilient.  However, According to the Review and assessment of school buildings repair, retrofitting and reconstruction process in different disaster indicated the rehabilitation approach adopted was found to make the school buildings just as it was before the damage which means that that the repair work does not satisfy the basic principle of recovery – “Build back better”. This approach increases the vulnerability of buildings to earthquake and may lead to partial or complete collapse of the structure during future earthquake. This means that the children are still at risk.

In order to ensure that the repaired/ retrofitted/ reconstructed buildings are multi hazard resilient and are constructed with built back better approach, it is essential that the buildings and infrastructure need to go through multi- hazard vulnerability assessment tools, which will identify the vulnerability and structural capacity of the buildings.

Objectives

  1. To undertake a rapid assessment of the structural integrity of schools retrofitted, repaired and reconstructed in Illam and Tapeljung districts with DFID funds.
  2. Beyond this, identify risks that endanger DFID funded infrastructure. This might include the threat from non- earthquake resistant neighboring buildings etc.
  3. To provide technical advice for additional delivery safeguards to ensure the safety of future DFID investments in education.
  4. To review and assess the rationale for selecting individual school buildings within affected compounds.

Scope

1.  Rapid disaster vulnerability assessment of ERDRRP building works.

  • Carry out an infrastructural vulnerability assessment of approximately 15 schools reconstructed/ repaired/ retrofitted under the DFID funded ERDRRP. The assessment will target the districts of Tapeljung and Illam.
  • The assessment will cover a range of hazards including earthquake, flood and slope failure.
  • Submit a list of ERDRRP buildings to be assessed, in consultation with the implementation agencies, to DFID for approval.
  • Study of damage pattern due to earthquake in different typology school building; stone masonry, adobe, brick masonry, RCC structures constructed pre and after 1945 earthquake of the school buildings assessed and suggest typical general retrofitting measures.

2.  Technical advice for disaster mitigation mechanism

  • Where necessary the infrastructural assessment will make recommendations to respective implementing partners (SC, NRCS) for immediate structural improvements to buildings assessed,
  • Engage DUDBC where appropriate whilst taking advantage of DUDBC technical advice.
  • Recommend additional delivery safeguards that can be put in place to increase the safety of future DFID investments in education.

3.  Advice for disaster resilience of DFID’s infrastructure

  • With the evidence from the vulnerability assessment and stakeholder discussions, provide recommendations to DFID Nepal to support the resilience of all DFID funded building infrastructure.