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Supply chains for building materials

Rebuilding Lives

A fusion of skills training, engineering expertise and local resources is rebuilding homes and creating jobs in Nepal.



Active Project

The Challenge

In 2015 a huge earthquake caused widespread destruction in Nepal. With 650,000 houses in need of construction. Today remote rural communities are struggling to access the materials they need to rebuild their homes and their lives.

  • Many families are still living in temporary shelters, these are cold in the winter and let rain in during the monsoon season.
  • Nepal’s extreme landscape and lack of infrastructure means it has been difficult to get the right tools and machinery to remote communities.
  • Vital construction materials have not been locally available or affordable because people couldn’t buy directly from producers, and the cost of transporting these goods to such remote locations is beyond the reach of those most in need.
  • In many villages, younger men and women often travel abroad to work, so there are not enough trained engineers, builders or stone-masons left to do all the work.


“I live at the bottom of a slope so the water just runs in. I sometimes have to wake up in the middle of the night and dig a small channel for the water to run down the sides. When I think about the monsoon it terrifies me.”

Krishna Kauri Sunar, she has lived in a dilapidated shelter since the earthquake


The Ingenious Solution

  • We’re training local people to make environmentally sustainable, low-cost earth bricks from soil, sand and cement. So they can earn an income as they rebuild the village.
  • A model house scheme that provides homes for the most vulnerable community members promotes the use of the earth bricks, demonstrating how they are designed to withstand earthquakes in the future and meet new government standards.
  • By providing business skills training we’re giving local entrepreneurs access to finance that will help their business grow, and ensure the new skills are retained in the future.
  • This has enabled us to set up community organisations, bringing together local buyers, producers and entrepreneurs. Lowering costs and connecting the demand directly to the supply.

“I feel very happy that I have been able to contribute to the community. We get good prices for people in the village and they say good things about the centre.  Practical Action is building a foundation for the community here.” 

Chandra Kumari Paneru, resource centre worker, Kalika

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