On April 25th, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. 8,000 people died and over 21,000 people were injured. Thousands of Nepalese families were left homeless with entire villages flattened by the earthquake. Much work is still required in the rebuilding of the damaged villages.  The Nepalese Government has also committed $2,000 USD to each affected family in the housing reconstruction efforts.

Builders Without Borders Response

Nepal Field Visit and Assessment

In response to the crisis the Canadian Association for Earthquake Engineering (CAEE) organised a trip to Nepal in June 2015.  Along with representatives from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Builders Without Borders was invited to join the six-person CAEE team.  During that trip, the team collaborated closely with the National Society for Earthquake Engineering (NSET) in Kathmandu. Many sites of collapsed buildings, heritage structures and houses were studied in Kathmandu Valley and in two districts (Dolakha and Sindhupalchok) in the hills northeast of Kathmandu.

Seismic Construction Guidelines

In response to the June 2015 Nepal trip, Builders Without Borders in partnership with BCIT and Read Jones Christofferson have developed a booklet entitled “ILLUSTRATED GUIDELINES for CONSTRUCTION of STONE MASONRY HOUSES in SEISMIC REGIONS of NEPAL”.  The booklet was approved by the government of Nepal and then translated into Nepali by the UNDP in Kathmandu. The guideline booklets were printed and distributed primarily in Nepalese villages for guidance in the re-building of homes and community buildings.

Stone masonry has existed since humanity could make and use tools.  Today, stone is used extensively for housing structures in several regions around the world including high seismic zones. The illustrated guidelines in the developed booklet are specifically directed to building of houses in areas where stone is a readily available and building material and access to other materials is severely limited. In Nepal this is most common in more remote areas where access is difficult, increasing with distance and elevation into the foothills and the Himalayas.


These Guidelines cover the essentials of earthquake-resistant stone masonry house construction – the use of good quality materials on level and firm ground using stones, seismic bands, vertical and horizontal reinforcement and proper connections of the walls to the floor and roof.

The Result

With the successful translation and distribution of the Guidelines, Nepalese village communities will be better equipped with enhanced stone masonry knowledge and skills. Homes and community buildings in the earthquake-affected area will be rebuilt with increased resistance to anticipated earthquake forces. In addition, building modifications will not significantly differ from traditional building practices or materials used.