For our weekly Lunch and Learn session, we invited Rajendra and Rupal Desai from the National Center for Peoples’ Action in Disaster Preparedness (NCPDP) to our San Francisco headquarters. NCPDP was founded in 2000 and promotes using local construction practices and disaster resistant technologies to rebuild. They talked about lessons learned from the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir.
Rajendra said most damage from the earthquake was caused by poor quality construction and structural weaknesses, such as cracks. People were scared to rebuild with rubble and therefore began using brick, cement and steel. They also started building lighter sheds made out of tin and timber. Rajendra said people had very little knowledge about the materials and were stuck paying high transportation costs.
NCPDP saw an opportunity to help people rebuild utilizing earthquake resistant technologies, such as incorporating rubble in mud mortar and timber in attic floors and roofing. Using locally sourced, affordable materials such as earth, stone and timber was central to their rebuilding philosophy, as was training local artisans and, in turn, seeking their feedback.
In two years, Rajendra said his organization constructed 200 houses and trained many artisans, increasing their confidence through the rebuilding process. His conclusion? Technology transfer must be evolutionary and replicable, local masons can become spokespeople for new techniques and the carbon footprint diminishes with local materials.