There were a lot of discussion on deadline for homeowner driven reconstruction. Whether it is important or helpful to speed up reconstruction progress. In Nepal, the Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA)[i] issued a deadline for distribution of cash grant[ii]. It mentioned that on mid-January 2018 will be the last disbursement of the 2nd tranche[iii]. There were pros and cons but the effect of the deadline was contributed to increase the pace of construction.[iv][v] Many homeowners have started their house construction to catchup the deadline. It was reported that the deadline was successful to motivate homeowners as number of house construction jumped to certain level[vi]. But there are two important ideas which easily overlooked and many people just fascinated with homeowners enthusiasm. First, the successful of government deadline only just like the tip of the iceberg. Only organizations who are invested their effort months before the deadline can ripe the benefit of this deadline. Second or lastly, every house reconstruction stakeholders should thoroughly measure the increase of construction pace of house construction number. This degree of increment should be maintained until the project completion or to the end of construction season.
Field investment is more important than just focus on deadlineIn #recovery post-#disaster, investment during low season of owner driven #house #reconstruction (incl. strengthening field level capacities) is far more important then focusing on deadlines. Details https://t.co/iWrW6bGkdC #Nepal #earthquake @HRRP_Nepal @ShelterCluster pic.twitter.com/nzUcPXfWzo— Arwin Soelaksono (@arwinsoelaksono) August 10, 2018
In every post-disaster house reconstruction there always be deadline. Donor deadline or government deadline. Therefore every reconstruction organization should invest their effort on strategic initiatives which can be used as a solid foundation to propel the construction pace. The impact of government deadline may vary from one organization to others. Only organization who had these investments would ripe the benefit of the deadline.
Same like owner driven reconstruction in other places the enthusiasm of homeowners are crucial. This enthusiasm should be maintained and this can also be obtained from confident on having skilled builders. Builders who knows well on seismic resistant construction which ensure their house will be built robust and strong enough to withstand future earthquakes. These builders will also construct houses which will pass the government engineers checklist which will allow them to access the next tranches. Therefore investing on continuously building capacities of the builders are strategic undertaking. There are many organization participate on providing training for masons as per government curricula[vii]. But it was only 7 days or even 50 days on the job training. If we want to change practices or habits to adopt the new understanding of seismic resistance the approach should be coaching. It would take months, but for sure it is worth it.
Since coaching of builders will take months hence builders should be retained. There should be proper project management to ensure their continuous work in the field. Builders always want to have continuous income so the project management has to guarantee there will no idle for them. Therefore the task of project management is to produce house design as per homeowner needs. Provide layout and conduct site measurement. Put homeowners on ready to build as many as possible. The indicator of this success is there are homeowners queueing for builders. Scarcity of builders to some extent is good for construction progress. More builders could come from other area and at least there is job security for current skilled builders.
Not every stage of construction need skilled builders. There are unskilled ones can participate at certain stage of construction. Land clearing, digging foundation and working on foundation theses unskilled builders can work alongside with the skilled builders. Same like skilled builders due to massive construction post-disaster these unskilled builders also will not sufficient. Therefore rebuilding post-disaster even construction of private houses should be understood as community effort. Each homeowners need to be supported by their neighborhood by giving their hand to work building the foundation. Then in turn they have to work for their neighbors houses. In Nepal this known as aalo palo and it is a community tradition which a group of 5 to 10 homeowners will work in rotation. Even though the unskilled builders still insufficient hence women also can participate.[viii] This valuable tradition is proven to be a big help for speeding up the construction pace. This working in turn also has economic benefit to minimize the risk of inflation. Since there is no payment to all who are working in rotation, there will be no inflation in unskilled builders. If the unskilled has more opportunity to work, more house they can build it means more construction skills will they get. This will be reduce the risk of inflation on skilled builders even the scarcity is quite big.
All of the initiative above need cash grant to be disbursed timely. The cash grant usually a half or one third or even less compare to the cost of the house. But most of the house owner are really need the cash support in order they could continue to build the house. The effectiveness of the organization who support this owner driven construction can be measured on how long the beneficiaries receive the funding after certain eligible stage on construction. There are layers of government stakeholders who need to approve paperworks in order the bank can send the money to each beneficiaries. Therefore coordination and establishment of system is crucial in order the process can be streamlined and at the same time maintain its accuracy. From the organization itself, good financial management is needed to ensure there will be sufficient funding available in the bank. So when the request for money transfer issued the bank can immediately wire the money to the beneficiary account.
Effort to increase pace of construction is more important than just focusing on government deadline
There is always limited timeframe on every reconstruction post-disaster. For massive reconstruction usually special institution is established by the government.[ix] The institution is not permanent and therefore they have finished certain task within specific time. Hence it is understandable if government issues on deadline. This is same with organizations who work on recovery which also have limited time. This limited timeframe then translated as deadline in the field.
But in Nepal context there are other more important deadline since the construction might only effective in a certain window of opportunity. The construction will not effective in planting and harvesting season since the homeowners and builders reside in the area are working in the field. There are festivals like Tihar and Dashain which everyone enjoy the holiday with their families. There is monsoon which rainfall can affect the transportation with landslide or road damage. Transportation of construction material like steel rebar and cement will be halted. Therefore construction will boom somewhere after festivals and before monsoon. It means if we want to have flourish reconstruction it will be between October to July. The nature itself has given its own deadline.
Hence as a project management strategy every recovery organizations have to maximize the house construction during this construction season. It means in every month until the monsoon it is important to ensure that every month should has increase number of finished house. It can be seen that it should be steeper curve in the S-curve[x].
Investment during low season of construction to gain benefit of any deadline(2/5) To manage the time, cost & quality, applying proper construction project mgmt is a must. One of the tool, the S-curve, should be used in #shelter #construction in rural, urban and even in humanitarian works. #ConstructionSeason post #Nepalquake @ShelterCluster @UNHABITAT pic.twitter.com/mIjo2H6u17— Arwin Soelaksono (@arwinsoelaksono) July 9, 2018
Considering there is only small window for construction season therefore investing in low season is significant. Qualified engineering team with back-up of community mobilization expert need to bring all homeowners in ready-to-build mode. Therefore house designs should be available. This is crucial to motivate home owner. When they can see the house design they can imagine what kind of house they will get, they can be encourage to start and complete the house. Engineering support also needed in calculating the budget. It means they will choose the design which suit to their budget. Investing on builders’ expertise is also crucial. Then houses can be constructed faster and comply with the building code. If all of those are in place then the government deadline become additional boost for the progress.
[i] The NRA was established in August 2015 with a mandate to complete the reconstruction drive within five years.
[ii] In the immediate aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, the government decided to provide Rs 200,000 per household as private housing rebuilding aid, which was later increased to Rs300,000 to be distributed in three instalments—Rs 50,000, Rs 150,000 and Rs 100,000. The amount is being disbursed in three instalments for ensuring that the quake survivors rebuild quake resilient homes in line with the compliance and design set by the government
[iii] The 1st tranche was distributed on early September 2016. Then reconstruction program then went on across the 14 most affected areas. NRA has published a deadline (Annapurna Post July 21, 2017) which all the beneficiaries must sign agreement by November 16, 2017 and must receive 1st tranche. Those beneficiaries who have already received 1st tranche within January 13, 2017 must receive 2nd tranche within January 14, 2018 and those receiving 1st tranche within November 16, 2017 must receive 2nd tranche within April 13, 2018. Those beneficiaries who will be receiving 2nd tranche within January 14, 2018 must receive 3rd tranche within June 13, 2018 and those who will be receiving 2nd tranche within April 13, 2018 must receive 3rd tranche within July 14, 2018. Then again the deadline was extended - Government extends deadline for second tranche of grant.
[iv] There 37% of homeowners start to rebuild their houses due to NRA tranche deadline
[v] Ghimire calls the deadline pressure a success, as construction rates have risen over the last year. Today, more than 800,000 households qualify for government subsidies, which are distributed in three separate payments totalling $3,000, depending on the stage of construction. More than 440,000 have received the second of these payments – a year ago, only 55,000 people had.
[vi] Nepal has witnessed a dramatic spurt in progress in home reconstruction over the past few months, driven in part by government deadlines announced last year.
[viii] Reconstruction a pathway for women to contribute more on sustainable development.
[ix] For instance for recovery following the tsunami 2004 in Indonesia there was Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias (2005-2009).
[x] S-curves are an important project management tool. They allow the progress of a project to be tracked visually over time, and form a historical record of what has happened to date. Analyses of S-curves allow project managers to quickly identify project growth, slippage, and potential problems that could adversely impact the project if no remedial action is taken.