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|The Road to Recovery : understanding and improving the process of rebuilding seismic resistant schools in Nepal.
|Many schools in Nepal were damaged or destroyed in the 2015 Gorkha earthquake, highlighting major vulnerabilities in Nepal’s school infrastructure. Schools are particularly important within communities, providing education, and often acting as a centre for aid distribution and shelter following disasters. Therefore, it is vital that when these facilities are reconstructed, they have an improved resilience to enable them to resist future earthquake events. Since the 2015 earthquake, school reconstruction programmes have been initiated and there are examples of good school reconstruction both within Kathmandu and in some of Nepal’s more remote areas. However, there are a wide range of challenges affecting this process, and evidence that knowledge transfer between stakeholders is limited, meaning that practices to reduce challenges are not being utilised in all projects, impeding successful and efficient construction. This thesis presents data collected within two fieldwork visits to Nepal. These took the form of a pilot study to identify key challenges, and understand the broader context, followed by a phase two study, building on the pilot study findings, understanding the challenges in more detail, and identifying good practice to overcome or mitigate the challenges. Across the two visits, 20 interviews were conducted, with stakeholders at both a case-specific school level, and a high-level with broad involvement across multiple projects, in addition to other complementary research activities such as meeting with engineering professors, visiting case specific schools, and visiting earthquake affected communities to explore broader resilience efforts. Six key challenges that affect the school reconstruction process have been identified: 1) accessibility and transportation, 2) skill and availability of labour, 3) quality and availability of materials, 4) suitability and availability of land, 5) community involvement, and 6) government processes. Of these, accessibility and transportation was the most frequently reported challenge, and had the greatest perceived impact, of 0.75 on a scale of zero to one. It was also found that different challenges were perceived differently by different stakeholder groups, and the impact varies relative to the contexts in which they occur. Good practices have also been identified, specific to the contexts in which they were implemented, and would be applicable, including: 1) training of labour, 2) training for SMCs, to better manage projects, 3) planning projects around the monsoon, for projects that are only accessible via seasonal roads, and 4) accounting for higher transportation costs to harder to reach sites. Based on these findings, a decision-making framework has been created, to help stakeholders identify practices to improve project delivery, specific to the individual project context. The process of producing this framework, and subsequent validation, conducted via an online questionnaire with nine stakeholders, are also presented. Five out of nine participants reported that most or all of the good practice recommended would have been suitable for the projects they considered, and eight out of nine reporting that the framework would be valuable for either themselves or less experienced stakeholders, if implemented within a project. A range of benefits of implementing the framework were reported, including: 1) better managing and planning projects, 2) bringing additional benefits to the school and community, 3) increasing the quality of construction, and 4) reducing delays. Utilising this framework within projects would therefore work to improve the resilience of Nepal’s school infrastructure and assist in efforts to build back better and safer following the 2015 earthquake or future earthquake events.
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