On 2nd of April, PHASE Nepal visited the site of Seti Devi School in Tumpakhar to follow up on the progress of reconstruction of the school (funded by HDFA – Himalayan Development Foundation Australia). Sujan, project engineer for recovery projects of PHASE Nepal, was accompanied by Maya, communications manager of PHASE Nepal and Elisabeth, programme manager of EcoHimal Austria. PHASE Nepal has recently started an integrated project for “Improving health service, access to education and nutrition status for women and children in far Western Nepal” funded by EcoHimal and ADA – Austrian Development Cooperation. PHASE Nepal is also planning another programme: “Knowledge Management, Effective Communications and Building Organisational and Community Capabilities in Nepal“, funded by EcoHimal and ADA and supported by HDFA. Elisabeth joined the trip to see the other project areas where PHASE Nepal is active and to understand better how PHASE Nepal is working together with the communities.
By Maya Gurung:
“I hadn’t been recently to the areas beyond Balefi so I was curious so see how things had changed there in the last months …. Also here, some people have started rebuilding better shelters, often steel structures/trusses with CGI-sheets (corrugated galvanized iron). As soon as we turned off the main road in Khadichour towards Tumpakhar though, less rebuilding was seen and people are still living in poorly constructed shelters, put together from old CGI-sheets, reused wood and tarpaulin. It is obvious that people living closer to markets have more financial means and easier access to materials for rebuilding. In Tumpakhar, one person though has started rebuilding in masonry and according to government design.
We were welcomed warmly at the school by the principal, Narayan – construction supervisor of PHASE Nepal – and some members of the school management committee. The aim is to finish the building of 2 classrooms (1 block) before the new school year starts around the 20th of April and progress is going good. Walls are up to sill-level and on the day of our visit, concrete was being mixed to finish the last plinths on top of the walls. The community is working together well to finish the building on time so the children can start the new school-year in their new classroom. Sujan, our engineer who has been visiting the school regularly, was happy with the progress that has been made and positive about the commitment of the school management committee. Mainly finishing of the building is now left, windows have to be installed and the roof repaired so Sujan is confident that it will be possible to finish on time.
While Sujan and the technical team were checking the quality of the work (to make sure that the school will be resilient to withstand an earthquake), Elisabeth and I wandered around at the ground of the school and talked with the principal. The school has 125 students, mainly in the higher years as children come from several hours walking to attend the higher classes (there are more primary schools in the area so children can go to school closer to home). He said that he was happy with the support of HDFA and PHASE Nepal as it would give the children a safe and better place to study and come back to school. There are some TLC’s on the school ground (temporary learning centres) but they are cold in wintertime and hot in summer so it is difficult for the students to concentrate.
We concluded the visit with a meeting attended by the construction committee and school management committee. PHASE Nepal talked about the way of working – PHASE Nepal delivers the materials and school committee provides labour (paid)-and discussed whether the committee was happy with this way of working. The school committee said that this is the best way as it would be difficult for them to organize the procurement and transport of materials themselves. The atmosphere at the meeting was good and it was obvious that the local management of PHASE Nepal and the cooperation with the community has been done in a very participatory approach. The committee was happy with the involvement and technical support provided by PHASE Nepal and hope that also in the future, PHASE Nepal will be able to support the school.”
Note: PHASE Nepal rebuilds schools by involving the school management committees and using labour of the local community. This will give the community a sense of ownership of the school, provide much needed jobs in the earthquake affected communities and give the communities an opportunity to learn how to rebuild better and safer.