Dr. Bishnu Pandey, born in Nepal, is a teacher in structural engineering at BCIT in Vancouver and a world expert in reconstruction. He has been to forty different countries affected by earthquakes over the last ten years. In 2005 he was in Pakistan after a 7.6 earthquake that killed more then 80.000 people.
I contacted BCIT a few months ago and heard that Bishnu and his engineering team were still working on reconstruction projects in Nepal so I contacted him.
We set up an interview with Bishnu at the Institute for Earthquakes in Kathmandu and traveled a few days with him to see first hand what he and his team have achieved. It was fascinating. We travelled to Nuwakot where he has set up one of the many training centres teaching local people how to build earthquake resistant homes. Each village has a coordinator to try and convince people to use different rebuilding methods.
We also saw the rebuilding of a school in Melamchi in the district of Sindhupalchowk where they painted the walls in a way that shows where the reinforcements have been applied. He was so proud to show the school in Melamchi now almost finished with the newly implemented building construction codes.
"Nepal was lucky" Bishnu told me. He mentioned two factors that played a huge roll supporting his view. "We are always talking about a number on the scale of an earthquake. In Nepal it was 7.8, which sounds terrible, but the important numbers are in the GForce (Gravitational Force) that was around #30 in Nepal, while the earthquake in Kobe, Japan had a GForce of 130! If that had happened in Nepal, the damage would have been even more disastrous. Most schools are not built well and the death toll would have been much higher. It also happened on a Saturday when the kids were not in school.
What Bishnu has achieved in Nepal is quite amazing, considering that any new designs for construction have to be approved by local committees first.
It was good to bring Rob Tournour, from the Masonry Company in Victoria, and Bishnu together on one of our trips. Both are excited about new possibilities; it was interesting to see them together touring the sites. In the next few years both will be working on implementing a system for building new schools in Nepal. In the past three weeks I have learned a lot about Nepal and how they dealt with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2015.
I will conclude this story by mentioning again that this was a very interesting and rewarding trip, not only for me personally by going back and seeing what has been achieved, but also as a documentary film maker I am happy bringing back images for a fascinating second documentary. I plan to have that finished by the end of the summer. We will keep you posted.
If you like to see the previous reports, please click here (Nepal).