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earthquake resistant schools in nepal





Setting the scene: the opportunity for innovation

On April 25, 2015, a devastating earthquake struck Nepal. The seismic event, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, caused widespread devastation, including more than 8,000 deaths, more than 22,000 casualties, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Apart from homes, the earthquake severely affected the country’s infrastructure, including government buildings and schools. Nearly 9,000 schools were damaged or destroyed, disrupting the education of nearly 1.5 million students.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the Government of Nepal established the National Reconstruction Authority to oversee and speed up the reconstruction work. The government has sought the support of development partners for this purpose, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved the Emergency Earthquake Assistance Project co-financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The amount of reconstruction required was enormous, including roads and other infrastructure such as schools. There were fears that the affected generation of children would never recover and would drop out of school.

However, from this tragedy came an opportunity to rebuild better. The challenge was how to manage a complex and large-scale project across multiple construction sites occurring simultaneously, including in hard-to-reach areas, on terrain that made it impossible to obtain typical disaster-resistant building materials. But if these challenges can be met, there will also be an opportunity to join in with other elements, such as training in soft skills in disaster resilience at the new school sites, which will then be shared with families and communities.

What the Asian Development Bank has done: Innovation at work

The Earthquake Emergency Assistance Project, a multi-sectoral public reconstruction project under the National Reconstruction Agency, was supported by loans from the Asian Development Bank of $200 million and $3.4 million in technical assistance. Grants from USAID, the People’s Republic of China Fund for Poverty Reduction and Regional Cooperation, as well as the Government of Nepal, have brought the total funding to just over $246 million. The technical assistance component of the project was critical as it brought in much needed evidence-based construction technology, and ensured that both construction and disaster adaptation programs incorporated lessons learned from disaster recovery in other Asian countries. In addition, the project also repaired and improved about 135 kilometers of strategic roads and about 450 kilometers of rural roads damaged by earthquake and landslides.

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