Gurkha Welfare Trust building quake-resistant home in Nepal


We have an update from one of our Nepal Earthquake Disaster Recovery beneficiaries, Gurkha Welfare Trust, on the quake-resistant construction methods they have used in the recovery effort since the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.

The April 2015 earthquake was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 earthquake, killing more than 14,000 people, injuring more than 21,000, and causing 20 billion dollars in damage. Foundation Beyond Belief launched a Humanist Disaster Recovery Drive and thanks to your compassion and generosity was first able to distribute $45,000 in June 2015 to The Women’s Foundation Nepal and Society of Humanism Nepal to aid in the immediate aftermath, and so far $15,000 of another $30,000 in 2016 and 2017, to Gurkha Welfare Trust to support recovery and rebuilding.

So far, Gurkha Welfare Trust has built more than 180 homes and has more than 500 currently under construction. Each home is built using quake-resistant construction methods described in the steps below.

Gurkha’s earthquake-resistant construction methods are best illustrated using photographs to get a sense of how each step is laid out and fits into the next. 

Step 1: 'Stone Soling' – The foundation trenches are 3’ wide by 2.5’ deep. The stones are compacted into the ground and serve to provide a solid base for the walls and to prevent seepage of moisture from beneath.

Step 2: 'Base Plinth' – Known as the plinth band, this is the support base for the wall superstructure. As with the stone, it also prevents seepage of moisture from below ground level and is called the Damp-Proof Course (DPC).


Step 3: 'Sill Level Reinforcement' – This step binds the walls together and at the same time shares the load above it, adding to the overall strengthening of the wall structure.


Step 4: 'Roof Level' – Here there are 2 bands, the roof band and the gable band. The former binds the main walls together and the latter binds the gable wall to prevent it from separating from the building. With mud and stone houses, the weakest part is the gable section and where houses weren’t completely damaged last year, most of them had their gables damaged.


Step 5: 'Roof Truss' – The design spreads the load of the roof thereby enhancing the strength of the roof section. The beams going across are called “tie beams” and, as their names suggest, tie the walls together for added strength.


Step 6: 'Almost Finished' – The eaves (wooden boards at the roof edges) help resist wind damage, strengthen the roof structure and also act as tie beams. If required, they could also be used to support guttering. The veranda posts also support the roof and add to its overall strengthening. Also seen in the picture are the plinth band, sill band, stitch band (securing the corners), lintel band and the roof band.


Step 7: 'Landscaped and Occupied' – The house and sills are painted white. The roof comprises sheets of corrugated iron (CGI) which are relatively light and weatherproof. Despite being permanently weatherproof and aesthetically preferable to CGI, roofing slate is heavy, can be easily dislodged by an earthquake and is therefore not used.


This video shows more on the 2015 Nepal earthquake and Gurkha Welfare Trust’s recovery work.