Building Earthquake Resistant Homes in Nepal

The new approved, earthquake resistant designed house, completed.

Photos and article by Dale Dodge

One of the delays to our toilet projects in Nepal was that the 2015 earthquake had destroyed numerous homes and there was no point in building toilets if the homes had not been rebuilt yet. Due to international generosity there was money to rebuild, however, that was severely delayed as the Nepalese government wanted to ensure the new homes could withstand another earthquake, so they put out a call for earthquake resistant designs for the new homes. Traditionally, homes are built of brick and mud which is inexpensive, but not earthquake resistant.

New house construction started in Jyamirbote. Note cement footings, and temporary living quarters.

Building is now underway. The government has a plan in which villagers will get an initial amount of money to start building a government certified, earthquake resistant structure.  If the villager plans to simply build another brick and mud structure, there is no funding.

There are two types of structures allowed which qualify for funding.  If the structure is one story, then there will be a cement floor and foundation, followed by walls that can be made of brick and mud to a height of about 24 inches.  This short wall is then covered either with a layer of wood or a layer of concrete about 3 inches thick – a slip layer.  The wall is then built another 24 inches with brick and another slip panel is added.  The walls look to be about 6 feet high in total, with another slip panel on the top of the wall.  And the roof is corrugated, usually blue, metal – much lighter than the slate that was used before.

Two feet of stone and mud walls topped by a cement slip layer = earthquake resistance.

If the planned building is more than one storey, then the whole building must be built of cement or cement block, with rebar on the corners and in the walls.

After a certain amount of construction, an inspector will give the ok for the villager to then get another installment of his funding, and a final installment is given upon completion.

When one sees the extent of the damage due to the earthquake, it is safe to assume that the rebuilding will take years.  But is has started, and there is a plan, and the end result looks to be much better than what was there before.


Last chance for 2017 tax receipts!

World Neighbours Online Donations

If you had been meaning to donate to World Neighbours Canada this year, but haven’t gotten around to it, this is a gentle reminder that there are only a couple days left to get your tax receipt issued for the 2017 tax year.

If you are like me and can’t remember when you donated last, may I point out that on our website ( you can sign up for monthly donations to be withdrawn so you no longer need to keep track.

Right now your donations are matched 6 to 1 by the Canadian government so even a little goes along way.

We are a small grass roots organization made up a small group of volunteers, and a small, but dedicated, group of donors, but we have been able to facilitate international projects that focus on education, locals teaching locals, and sustainable methodology since 1989.

Thank you for your support and we hope you have a wonderful 2018!

Election Results in Nepal Promise Stability

By Dale Dodge

Nepal has just finished having both federal and provincial elections.  The results were surprising, but hopefully will result in a more stable government for the country going forward.

Nepali Election – phase 1

The Nepali Congress party has been in charge of government for the past 5 years, but always as part of a shaky coalition with other parties.  In this election just completed, the other two major parties – both ‘communist’ – agreed to not split votes.  The two parties are the UML (United Marxist Leninist) and the UMP (United Maoist Party).  If the UML ran a candidate in a riding, then the UMP agreed to not run a candidate in opposition, and vice versa.  The result was that there was no vote splitting amongst left leaning voters, and the two parties handily won the most seats in the parliament – 117 of the 165 seats available.  Another 110 seats will be filled using a proportional voting system, but it will not change the result – the leftist coalition will govern for the next 5 years.  The Nepali Congress party received only 21 seats.

Nepali Election – Phase 2

Despite there being a minimum number of female candidates mandated, there were very few who ran for election.  Roughly 5% of candidates were female, and at this time, I have not heard how many were elected.

Nepali people are hoping that the stable government will speed up the reconstruction of houses and buildings damaged by the earthquakes 2 ½ years ago.  To date, only about 4% of the houses have been rebuilt.

What does Canada’s new International Feminist Policy mean to World Neighbours?

By Gabriel Newman

The Canadian Government has recently changed its international aid policy to focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In fact, it is the first country in the world to come out with a Feminist International Aid Policy. Previously, the focus was directed to specific countries but now with a new government there is a change of direction. The Executive Summary for the Policy states:

“The last three decades have seen dramatic reductions in global poverty, but not everyone has benefited equally. Hundreds of millions of people, especially women and girls, are still poor, have unequal access to resources and opportunities, and face major risks of violent conflict, climate and environmental hazards, and/or economic and political insecurity. By eliminating barriers to equality and helping to create better opportunities, women and girls can be powerful agents of change and improve their own lives and those of their families, communities and countries. This is a powerful way to reduce poverty for everyone.”

We, at World Neighbours, applaud these efforts as we have seen first hand the effect of systemic sexism on communities. These funding policies mean that should we wish to qualify for funding from Global Affairs Canada we need to make sure we meet all the criteria laid out in the new Feminist International Assistance Policy. This is easier said than done. While we have always endeavoured to encourage projects that promote gender equality within communities there are many barriers to meet these new criteria.  Some of these barriers are internal, as they will force us on the Board to rethink how we approach each project. But perhaps the largest barrier lies within our partnering organizations because this is a dramatic shift of thinking and at odds with some traditional cultural norms. Supporting and empowering women in communities is certainly supported by our partner organizations but the process and expectations may not align as closely as we would like. The Policy not only wants to see certain results, it wants the entire process of aid to embody the policy objectives.

Luckily, we have some time to work with our partner organizations and provide training, if needed, to bring them up to speed before we need to apply for project funding. There are also numerous opportunities, such as webinars and training sessions, to help bring us, on the Board, up to speed on these expectations.

Admittedly, this author is definitely trying to figure out what all of this means. I will let you know as things progress. If you want to read the entire policy, check out Canada’s Feminist International Aid Policy.

Christmas Gift Idea!

Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift? Please consider making a donation to World Neighbours Canada in someone’s name.

Your family member or friend will receive a beautiful handmade card with a photo from one of our programs, and a needy community will benefit from your generosity. Our cards are made individually by our volunteers, so if you would like photos from a particular country that we work in, just let us know!

And remember, the entire amount of your donation will go directly to support one of our programs in Nepal, Burkina Faso, or Honduras.

To arrange this, visit our donation page by clicking here. You can choose to make a one-time or recurring donation of any amount, and enter information about who you would like us to send the card to.

As always, contact us anytime for more information.

Introducing our Newest Board Member

Gabriel Newman

World Neighbours Canada would like to welcome and introduce Gabriel Newman, the newest member of our Board of Directors. Gabriel is not new to World Neighbours as his father, Michael Newman, was a long time member. “My father got involved in World Neighbours after I left home and now as my children are preparing to depart I saw this as a perfect time to increase my involvement. From many conversations with my father over the years I have a decent understanding of the methodology, and the history of World Neighbours, and I believe in the work that is done, so it was only a matter of time before I became more involved.” says Newman.

Gabriel is already helping with managing the World Neighbours Facebook page as well as the website and will be posting articles regularly. “My focus for the articles and updates will lean towards profiles of interesting people or situations that are encountered in Honduras, Burkina Faso, and Nepal. I am already learning so much and I want to share that with our members.” Gabriel encourages members to contact him if they have an idea for a story or want to learn more about a certain topic.

Gabriel lives with his wife and two children in Vernon, BC where he is the Educational Coordinator at the Vernon Museum, is a sessional instructor at Thompson Rivers University, and manages a small hobby farm.


Creating “Open Defecation Free (ODF) Zones” One Toilet at a Time

Thanks to Dale Dodge for this report.

In Canada just about everywhere is an “Open Defecation Free Zone” but as of 2010 open defecation was the standard in the rural parts of Nepal. This has series health and safety consequences.

That is why in 2010 the Government of Nepal adopted a National Hygiene and Sanitation Master Plan to address this issue. The goal of the Master Plan is to attain universal access to improved sanitation by 2017 for better hygiene, health and environment. A major goal of this Master Plan is to reduce open defecation to zero, throughout Nepal.  To achieve the Open Defecation Free (ODF) goal, there must be the availability of toilets, especially toilets close to personal dwellings. The milestones of the ODF goal are set as follow:

Milestone 1 : Toilet coverage of 60% of total households by 2012/13

Milestone 2 : Toilet coverage of 80% of  total households by 2014/15

Milestone 3 : Universal toilet coverage by 2016/17

In Ramechhap district, where World Neighbours Canada has supported the work of Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS), since 1989 to alleviate poverty and help rural communities become more self-sufficient, the Drinking Water & Sanitation Division Office, a government agency, is responsible to achieve the above target through collaboration with various social organizations working in the district. There is also a District Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Committee (DWASH-CC) headed by a Local Development Officer. Being that TSS is also involved on water and sanitation initiatives, it is also a member organization of the DWASH-CC. In order to avoid duplication of work amongst the many active NGOs working in this field, and in order to achieve the ODF target, the DWASH-CC has allocated certain communities to each NGO.

TSS has been given the communities of Deurali, Dimipokhari, Hiledevi and the city of Manthali to work with.  This will require the installation of approximately 4200 sealed, hygienic toilets.

There is a process that has to be met in order to declare an ODF zone. Firstly, the concerned NGO has to send a letter to their local Ward Office / Village Council / Municipality. The local Village Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Coordination Committee (VWASH-CC) based in each ward has to send a letter to District WASH-CC to request a field monitoring visit for confirmation of a toilet close by all houses. The monitoring team includes representatives from government officials (DCC, DWASH-CC, Drinking Water & Sanitation Office), a journalist, a representative from the District Federation of Water & Sanitation Beneficiary, and other NGO stakeholders. After the monitoring visit ensures that toilets are installed by all houses, a date is set for an ODF declaration event. On that day, again representatives from above mentioned government & non-government offices will  visit the community. There will be a formal event – many speeches,  a group declaration by residents that they will use the toilets, and a certificate presented to the village.  And of course, much food and dancing.

APDC staff and families safe

posted by Judy Gray with information from APDC staff in Burkina Faso

Yesterday I received emails from the APDC coordinators, Charles Tankoano and David Lankoandé, letting us know that all the staff of our partner NGO, and their families were safe and not harmed in the horrific attack which took place in the capital, Ouagadougou, on Sunday evening. Lydia Tapsoba, the gender consultant for the project who lives in the capital, was also unharmed but  unfortunately one of her co-workers was killed during the attack. Here are some of the words they have used to describe the attack:

“C’est trop pour ce petit pays qui souffre déjà … c’est très triste.” (Lydia)  “C’est malheureux ce qui arrive … mais la vie continue.” (David)

It is clear that the citizens of this very poor country, who in my experience are such a warm-hearted, tolerant and hardworking people, continue to suffer at the hands of a few religious extremists. But, as always, they pick themselves up and carry on, refusing to let the actions of terrorists harm their philosophy and the love of their country. I came across this article on the BBC News website which provides some insight into the recent attacks:

There are a number of articles that discuss the attack and its ramifications and we will update the website with information over the next few days.


New Online Donation Options

World Neighbours Online DonationsWe are pleased to announce some new online donation options now available through our World Neighbours Canada website.

Now, you can visit and donate through our site, on our Donation page here.

Your donation can be made on a one-time basis, or on a recurring, on-going monthly or annual subscription basis! You can also re-visit at any time to change or cancel your scheduled donation.

World Neighbours Canada Society relies on public donations. 100% of your donation will go into the projects – we have no paid staff members and our group is run by volunteers (our modest administrative costs are covered by our directors).

We also receive funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) as part of the Canadian government’s initiatives for improved Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in developing countries. More information about us here.

If you need any more information, please contact us any time!

Learning more about terrorist threats in West Africa

posted by Judy Gray, WNC director,  with information from an article in The Straits Times 

During a recent perusing of news items from a variety of media sources, an article in the Singapore Straits Times, about terrorist activity in West Africa caught my husband’s eye. After our recent, and extremely rewarding trips to Burkina Faso, any article that mentions Burkina is of especial interest to us. Though security in the country is not a paramount issue at this time, we certainly hear our partner NGO (APDC) staff mention the threat that exists if one were to travel to border areas – especially anywhere near the border with Mali. Fortunately, our project work seems to be in a safe part of the country. Nevertheless, the following article reminds us of the concern that the Burkinabe people face with respect to terrorists who may infiltrate their country wishing to disturb the peace and religious tolerance of the citizens and certainly an atmosphere that we have experienced. Read on, to learn more ….     “Before Ibrahim Malam Dicko became Burkina Faso’s first-ever Islamist militant leader, his sermons were so popular that listeners thronged to the radio station that broadcast them to obtain the recordings.

Today, the mosque in northern Djibo province where the slight, unimposing man used to preach is closed, and the mud-brick walls of his village’s school are riddled with bullet holes. Hundreds of people have fled as soldiers hunt the West African nation’s most-wanted man, who is known as Malam, or teacher.

Dicko’s transformation from popular preacher to an advocate of Islamist violence has dented Burkina Faso’s reputation for religious tolerance and mirrors a wider trend in West Africa.”

To read the entire article, click on the link: