Oxfam producing skilled masons for reconstruction

Mason training in Gorkha

Men and women learning together the skills to build earthquake-resistant houses through On the Job Mason Training in Gorkha district. Oxfam has been providing short and long term courses in seven earthquake affected areas to produce skilled human resource. Photo by: Nishant Mahat/Oxfam

"When the quake damaged my house, I was plastering my customer's house nearby."
Krishna Prasad Badal

Bed Prasad Dhakal in Nuwakot

Nishant Mahat in Gorkha

Amid slippery soil and drizzling rain, some 20 people were busy in construction work at a hilltop of Nuwakot district. It seemed as if the chilly wind blowing severely was not disturbing them at all. Wearing safety hats and gloves, they were fetching water, mixing cement, and erecting foundation walls for a two-roomed structure. Enthusiastically, they were following guidance of their instructors.

This was what was witnessed by a visiting team of media and other stakeholders at the premises of a local primary school at Khadgabhanjyang VDC-7 in Nuwakot where a 50-day On the Job Training (OJT) on masonry was being organized for earthquake survivors by Oxfam and Sahayata Samajik Sanstha (Oxfam’s partner). Among the trainees was Krishna Prasad Badal, 37, whose house was completely damaged by the earthquake of 2015. "When the quake damaged my house, I was plastering my customer's house nearby," he says. Badal has been involved in masonry for the past nine years but never had the chance to lead a group of masons in making earthquake-safe houses. As many as 70,000 households were either damaged by the earthquake of April 2015 in Nuwakot district.

Main instructor Bikram Chaudhari in Khadgavanjyang of Nuwakot district instructing the trainees and the lead trainers on safe-house construction. Photo by: Bed Prasad Dhakal/Oxfam

Badal received a seven-day mason training by Oxfam and its partners in November 2016 along with 63 earthquake survivors. "Though I was working in the construction work for many years, I learnt the earthquake-resistant technology from the seven-daytraining," Badal said. Since then, he says, he has been applying the earthquake-resistant technology himself and suggesting others to do the same.

In order to produce skilled human resource to contribute in the post earthquake reconstruction, Oxfam and its partners have been providing mason trainings in seven earthquake affected districts. In the beginning, seven-day trainings were provided to those working already in the construction industry. However, it was deemed that it was not enough to cover all aspects of masonry training thus 50-day OJT was started, which would also include those who wanted to join the construction industry.

Oxfam is conducting 26 OJTs-13 in Gorakha, 7 in Sindhupalchowk, and 3 each in Dhading and Nuwakot. These trainings consist of two sessions: knowledge session and practical session. Knowledge sessions are conducted in classrooms by lead trainer using suitable training methods and practical sessions involve the real work of construction. Ninety percent of the training involves practical sessions whereas the rest is on knowledge sessions.

To motivate the trainees and support them financially, a daily allowance is provided to the trainees and lead trainers. "The daily allowance not only encourages us to impart the training to the trainees but also supports our family,” says Badal adding, “It is one of the major attractions of the training."

The training completes with the construction of earthquake-resistant model house. The trainees will be provided with level Level 1 Certificate by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT). Most of these houses will be used either as information centers or collection center for vegetables and grains, depending on the needs of the districts.