- Model Village Project (Arupokhari, Gorkha)
The Model Village Project (MVP) is a RMF pilot initiative in Nepal that aims to contribute to the improvement of education, health and livelihoods of the community in Gorkha through support of the schools, health posts and other community-based institutions. The project is based in Arupokhari, one of the villages in Gorkha, where RMF has started supporting the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the village. Gorkha district was the epicenter of the earthquake where over 91% of houses have been irrevocably damaged, along with over 95% of schools and 90% of health facilities. Arupokhari is a remote village in Northern Gorkha, which is close to the epicenter of the April 25th Mega Earthquake. Out of 1,350 households, 1,226 houses have been completely destroyed in this village.
- Three temporary structures have been constructed to serve as classrooms to conduct classes using zinc sheets and bamboos from the old classrooms.
- One of the old school buildings has been repaired and retrofitted using cement, pipes and iron trust.
- An old building was torn down and rebuilt from scratch. So, in totality, the students have two permanent and three temporary structures as classrooms.
- 3 out of the 8 computers in the computer lab have been repaired. In absence of technicians in the village, the local NGO has tied up with Om Automation Pvt. Ltd. who will handle repair of the equipment from here on at minimal cost.
- Medium capacity UPS backups for the printers, computers and projectors have been set in place for the smooth running of computer classes.
- The base for the new pre-fabricated house had been completed on time on August 25th, right after our field visit and site identification.
- The pre-fab buildings are being built to address the need of a teachers’ cabin for the residential teachers who have gone all the way from Kathmandu to teach the students at Arupokhari, Gorkha. Lack of skilled teachers has always been a problem for the school, especially because it is an English-medium school. So, teachers were hired from Kathmandu. However, due to lack of safe housing options, the turnover rates were high. This issue will be solved with a new pre-fab house, which will prove beneficial for the long term success of the school.
- The materials manufactured in the workshop by the pre-fab company are also ready and will be transported to Gorkha, once the road blockages are cleared.
- We anticipate that the construction workers of the pre-fab company along with all the materials will get to the site on 20th of September and the building will be completed by the 30th of September.
- One of the buildings is being retrofitted with iron trust. Since the roads had been blocked due to the heavy monsoon, timely delivery of the raw materials was a challenge.
- Costing and feasibility study for a strong-wired compound for the school premise is being done.
- The damaged parts of the computers have been brought back to Kathmandu for repair. If they are not repairable, plans are in place to buy new parts. Also, apart from the immobile desktops, necessity of new portable laptops is felt.
- Options for a reliable backup power for the entire school are being looked upon, taking into account the irregular power cuts.
Classroom before and after retrofitting and repairing:
Ongoing Retrofitting and roofing:
Monsoon has hampered speedy construction at the school. The roads to the school have been blocked and tractors aren’t available to transport the materials from Gorkha Bazar to the school site. Also, the downpour has caused problems in the electricity supply around the village, which has been challenging in terms of carrying out the construction work.
Heavy downpour in the region:
In line with RMF’s concepts and the government of Nepal’s vision for a comprehensive and eventually sustainable Model Village, RMF, in close partnership and collaboration with Sarswati Foundation will be working towards the development of a Model Village in Arupokhari. Sarswati Foundation has been working in Arupokhari, Gorkha since 2009 as a non-profit. This was co-founded by Subhash Ghimire, a native from that village and editor-in-chief of the Republica, Nepal’s leading English daily that publishes with the New York Times in Kathmandu.
Following the devastating earthquake, the non-profit has been actively engaged in relief and reconstruction works in the area, which includes providing food and temporary shelter relief to the affected people. So far, the foundation has delivered 7.5 tons (100 sacks of 30 kg rice, 50 sacks of 50 kg lentils, 500 sacks of 0.5 L of oil, 500 packets of 1 kg salt, 495 blankets, 350 tents) to the community, and aims to rebuild the village as a replicable model, which will include earthquake-safe structures designed by architects and engineers, utilizing local natural and human resources to ensure ownership and sustainability, improved healthcare access, education and livelihood programs, based on the needs of the communities and with the leadership of the local people.
Similarly, the village also holds a huge potential as a thriving Manaslu trekking route, along with a 600-megawatt hydro project being planned around in the area. In addition, the community is also actively engaged in production of local agricultural products and livestock. With a thought-out detailed plan, the opportunities of the village could be tapped in to create a replicable, integrated and sustainable Model Village.
RMF supports the rebuilding of Sarswati Peace School (more than 200 students, mostly from economically and culturally marginalized backgrounds) and Darbar Higher Secondary School (public school with more than 400 students), both of which were badly damaged during the earthquake. The current plan is to demolish the existing damaged structure and construct earthquake resistant buildings.
Along with the support to the reconstruction of the schools, the model village project also seeks to help build at least 100 temporary shelters and 700 permanent houses to the identified most vulnerable households in the community and one earthquake resistant local health center. Health services, education, and the economy will be supported for the long-term as the people of Arupokhari build a stronger future in collaboration with RMF and Sarswati.
- Rebuild the village as a replicable model, which will include earthquake-safe structures designed by architects and engineers
- Use local natural and human resources to ensure ownership and sustainability
- Improve healthcare access and education based on the needs of the communities and with the leadership of the local people