Nepal maybe still recovering from the shock of the 2015 earthquake, but a section of its rural women are not willing to be spectators.
Most of them have begun reconstructing their own homes after getting tired of waiting for help.
Yes! While women masonry seems like a new term, the women of rural Nepal are taking up the task undauntedly.
And, the real question is where do these women gain their knowledge for reconstruction? It’s surprising that they sign up for mason training courses!
Skills for Reconstruction Project
When the earthquake struck Nepal, the government formed the Nepal Reconstruction Agency (NRA) to reconstruct/build homes for the affected residents with a 2020-deadline.
However, three years after the earthquake, the reconstruction activity is still on due to limited resources including skilled labor.
According to the United Nations (UN), Nepal is witnessing the exit of thousands of Nepali per week to look for job opportunities abroad. This leaves the country with lack of skilled labor leading to a slump in reconstruction progress.
Launched in 2015, the ‘Skills for Reconstruction Project’ teaches Nepalis in earthquake-hit areas to build disaster-resistant homes. The project aims to equip these people with masonry and carpentry skills while also helping the country to ease its labor shortage.
The training project has trained close to 9,000 people in 14 districts. The trainees have built over 3,000 houses in 10 districts. Nepal, the Swiss Development Cooperation, and Britain’s Department for International Development have jointly funded the project.
Nepali Women Masons
It’s disheartening to hear the plight of Nepali women, but at the same time it is heartening to see their determination for reconstruction.
“Sometimes we don’t sleep, rather keep our eyes open for the entire night when there happens to be heavy rainfall, because the rainwater keeps coming inside the house. We can’t stay here anymore.” said Suntali Rai.
Raigaun village’s Rai was badly hit by the earthquake. After a long-wait for reconstruction help she enrolled to a 50-day mason training course through the Employment fund, non-profit Helvetas Swiss Interco-operation Nepal initiative.
Post training, Rai and four other course graduates built a new house for her family, which will stay intact in the event of another earthquake.
“So far, I have built 15 other houses in neighboring villages and earned 250,00 rupees (USD 2,500), which I will spend on house furnishings and paint,” Rai said.
Similarly, Kanchhi Rai, another resident of Raigaun and a recent course-graduate has almost completed building her home.
Hope Despite Shortcomings
Despite challenges like illiteracy, lack of land ownership certificates and housing grants, these women have managed to make a significant contribution to their lives and other lives with reconstruction activity. We hope that they are able to achieve their goals and create for themselves a resilient ecosystem to survive natural calamities.