Hempcrete: Nepal’s Seismic Savior

Source : Kathmandu Post

The recent earthquake that struck Nepal on the night of November 3, 2023, sent shockwaves through our collective consciousness, bringing back haunting memories of the devastating earthquake in April 2015. This calamity served as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities our nation faces, and it once again raised questions about our approach to disaster relief and long-term vision. The outpouring of immediate support and concern for friends and relatives is heartwarming, but it is also a harsh reflection of our tendency to forget, over time, the need for long-term resilience in the face of natural disasters.

For me, the earthquake of 2015 was a turning point. Witnessing the destruction and suffering that it caused led me to dedicate my life to a cause that I deeply believe in – hempcrete construction. I saw it as a sustainable and appropriate way of building in Nepal, one that could significantly reduce the impact of earthquakes on our communities.

As we experienced the tremors from the recent earthquake while organizing a hempcrete building workshop in Pokhara, it was a stark reminder of the importance of our mission. We all rushed outside, not knowing what to expect. Our past experiences had taught us that one earthquake could be followed by another, potentially more devastating. This constant fear and uncertainty were far from a sustainable way of living.

During our anxious moments outside, one of our workshop participants, an engineer with extensive experience in earthquake reconstruction following the 2015 disaster, made a profound statement. He said, “At a certain magnitude of earthquake, any house will collapse, regardless of whether it’s made of brick, cement, clay, or stone. In such a situation, if I were living in a hemp house, I could go to sleep comfortably without worrying about being buried to death.”

 

Source : Kathmandu Post

Another participant chimed in, “Having this earthquake during our workshop feels like a reminder from Mother Earth that we need to embrace hempcrete construction if we genuinely care about saving human lives. It’s time for Nepal to reconsider its building style. We can’t prevent earthquakes, but we can minimize the damage they cause. Let’s not fight against nature; let’s work with it and build with natural materials. Safer and more natural spaces are the need of the hour.”

The Promise of Hempcrete

Hempcrete is a construction material made from hemp fibers, lime, and water. It is known for its exceptional insulation properties, fire resistance, and seismic stability. Unlike traditional building materials, hempcrete is lightweight and flexible, making it better suited to withstand the stresses of an earthquake. It is also eco-friendly, as it sequesters carbon and reduces the carbon footprint of construction. This material offers a sustainable and resilient alternative to heavy, rigid structures that often crumble during seismic events.

The recent earthquake serves as a compelling call to action for Nepal. While immediate relief efforts are essential, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture. We must shift our focus from short-term fixes to long-term solutions that can truly transform the way we build our homes and communities.

Embracing hempcrete construction is not just about surviving earthquakes; it’s about creating a sustainable and environmentally conscious future. As we’ve seen in our workshop participants’ conversations, the time has come for Nepal to seriously consider a shift in its building style. By building with natural materials, we can make our structures safer and more resilient, ultimately reducing the devastating impact of earthquakes on our beautiful nation.

In conclusion, let’s heed the lessons taught to us by nature and work together to build a safer and more sustainable Nepal. Hempcrete construction offers us a path towards resilience and a brighter future. It’s time to make this vision a reality.

 

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