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Building on the earthquake: Sustainable grassroots development in Nepal

A project from Helambu Community Development Organisation - HECDO
in Vaintai, Helambu, Sindhupalchowk, Nepal

HECDO Nepal's earthquake grassroots disaster-relief in Helambu Sindhupalchok: Locally owned Community Centers provide shelter, advance ecological and socially sustainable development, women's emancipation, and food sovereignty to overcome poverty.

D. Haeberlé
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About this project

HECDO wants to build a Community Center (CC) in the Helambu region of Nepal's Sindhupalchok District before the monsoon. This area - which was already one of the poorest in Nepal - is sadly the worst hit by the earthquake, with 95% of dwellings destroyed. 

The CC is at the heart of HECDO’s grassroots development strategy to build ecologically and economically sustainable rural livelihoods based on biological agro-forestry. HECDO members want to empower themselves to overcome not only the disaster, but the endemic poverty and depopulation they have been experiencing:

The CC will provide: 
- emergency shelter for those families who need it now, or in case of future disasters
- storage for emergency equipment (beds, blankets, tents, medicines ...)

Most importantly, the CC will be used to house community organisation, information, education, training, and consulting activities aimed at supporting the villagers to organise themselves and acquire the skills, resources and information needed to:
- rebuild better homes
- empower women
- achieve food sovereignty
- develop small-scale agribusiness

The CC will include an assembly hall able to hold 1000 people at a time during assemblies, a cafeteria, library room, computer lab and big store room It will become the hub of village life, also providing infrastructure for:
- socio-cultural and recreational activities
- consultations with visiting health professionals
- storage for agricultural seeds, products and equipment.

Estimated cost of building + equipment including 2 years of operation: €30,000, of which €10,000 will be local contribution in kind.

Next steps:

Using local expertise and resources, HECDO’s Relief and Rehabilitation Committee’s (HRRC) will coordinate the design, construction and equipment of a single-story earthquake-resistant structure mostly made of locally available materials (bamboo, wood and stone) in the Palchowk VDC. Some cement and steel rods will need to be purchased. Throughout the building process, the villagers will collectively cooperate to build their future. 

The important thing now is to complete the building to provide shelter to Palchowk VDC and prove the concept. Once the CC is up and running it will become possible for HECDO to auto-finance the activities mentioned above, and to access funding from the government, institutional donors and NGOs, so as to spread this model of development aid to other VDCs and districts in Nepal. 

You are reading this because, through HECDO, the Palchowk villagers have begun to organise themselves to build better livelihoods than before the earthquake. They hope to demonstrate an ecologically sustainable development model for the rest of Nepal. This is why this grassroots disaster-relief initiative is unique and worthy of your support. Thank-you for giving.

This project is supported by the gA, Berlin.