By Ramesh Guragain
There are today 293 urban municipalities and 460 rural municipalities with clear authority for urban planning, development and other activities, including building permit processing. But there is a lack of trained human resources at different levels – engineers, architects or even construction technicians or masons. Even then, about 50 municipalities have started some initiative to ensure building code compliance with new constructions. Making new buildings resilient is not difficult. But what do you do with those that have already been built? To enhance their resilience, retrofitting is the best option. Retrofitting has been applied in schools. But for large-scale retrofitting, we do not have sufficient experience. And we have to understand that the process of both new construction and retrofitting is not only technical but also social, economic and cultural. In addition, the stakeholders involved are not only technical, but they also include businessmen selling materials, communities, teachers, students, the education system, homeowners, contractors, masons, engineers and architects.
In addition, a multipronged approach is required. Therefore, it is not only essential to develop the capacity of the technicians, similar capacity and awareness are needed among different stakeholders. Based on earlier research and experience, it is possible to retrofit existing buildings even in rural areas. Many of the retrofitting techniques for different types of buildings are affordable, technically feasible, culturally acceptable, locally available and sustainable.
It is important to identify who provides the services that the people need. However, even if the people are aware and the capacity is there, [it is difficult to ensure that the buildings will be resilient] unless the local government has a system of building permits, compliance checks for the submitted drawings, and designs during construction. The system should include the registering of trained engineers and trained masons, and also ensure that all of the construction has at least one trained mason in place. Another method is to establish a system of monitoring houses under construction. For this, municipalities must start by formulating a plan to ensure building compliance, setting deadlines on training, creating awareness and disseminating information. Communities must also formulate a system of creating different building permits or a building code section within the municipality.
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