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FEATURE STORY December 1, 2021

Lessons in Earthquake Reconstruction: Five Proven Approaches from Nepal

The World Bank's Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Project, which built over 300,000 earthquake resilient houses in Nepal, is one of the largest post-disaster owner-driven housing reconstruction initiatives in the world, financed by $700 million IDA credit and $34.45 million Multi-donor Trust Fund.

World Bank Group



. The earthquake and its following tremors took 8,970 lives, left thousands homeless, and caused over $7 billion worth of physical damage. Since then, In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic came with a new set of challenges, exacerbating the socio-economic conditions of the most vulnerable, and further elevating the need for a resilient recovery.

The establishment of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) on December 25, 2015, paved the way for a focused and coordinated reconstruction bringing in development partners such as the World Bank.

The establishment of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) on December 25, 2015, paved the way for a focused and coordinated reconstruction bringing in development partners such as the World Bank.



The Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Project (EHRP) is one of the largest post-disaster owner-driven housing reconstruction initiatives till date globally, financed by a $700 million IDA credit and $34.45 million Multi-donor Trust Fund. Administered by the World Bank, the Trust Fund is supported by the Governments of Canada, United States, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. The EHRP provided full/partial housing grant support to build over 300,000 earthquake resilient houses through the development of technical guidelines and inspection systems, skills development for communities, and operationalization of accountability mechanisms. With this, the EHRP remained the largest financial support to the Government of Nepal’s umbrella Housing Reconstruction Program, which built over 700,000 earthquake resilient houses.

In December 2021, the NRA will end its tenure following the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction (ICNR2021) on December 7-9, 2021.

Together with Nepal’s milestone reconstruction program, it leaves a legacy through five approaches that can effectively support a country’s post-disaster journey from reconstruction to resilience.

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Tilak B. Magar and his wife Dil Kumari Magar at their newly rebuilt house at Jyamire, Siddhicharan Municipality-9, Okhaldhunga


  1. Utilizing technology to rapidly understand reconstruction needs
    After the earthquake, the government and development partners faced the mammoth task of understanding housing reconstruction needs of over 800,000 homes destroyed and damaged across the country.  As part of the household registration program, the World Bank worked with United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and National Reconstruction Authority to conduct an Earthquake Housing Damage Characteristics survey. The largest tablet-based survey in Nepal was rolled out across nine months and assessed over 865,000 households in the earthquake-affected areas leveraging on a pre-existing network of social mobilizers hired by the local government program. The digitization of participation agreement and inspection forms, and establishment of a comprehensive information management system contributed to a rapid shared understanding of needs.
  2. Building back better through an owner-driven approach
    House owners and members were provided information on safe building practices and materials through an owner-driven reconstruction approach. It included processes that enhanced ownership, accountability, and transparency of the reconstruction process such as conducting direct transfer of housing grants in beneficiary’s bank accounts, internal control systems, robust multi-tier grievance redressals, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The enforcement of safety guidelines and compliance of safer construction practices were tied to the release of grant support. This approach contributed to building back better and instilled a broader safer construction culture through knowledge building and awareness raising of homeowners, masons, and engineers.
  3. Providing targeted socio-technical assistance for the most vulnerable
    Targeted support for vulnerable groups, such as single women, the elderly, minors without guardians, and persons with disabilities, is critical for an inclusive recovery. After identifying more than 18,000 people in vulnerable groups who had either not started reconstruction or stopped the process mid-way, over 1,000 social mobilizers and mobile masons were recruited to provide direct socio-technical assistance. .. Women masons received construction skills enhancement training, which supported the diversification of livelihood opportunities in a male-dominated masonry sector.
  4. Investing in structural integrity assessments for school infrastructure
    The 2015 earthquake happened on a Saturday when children were not at school. A Structural Integrity and Damage Assessment conducted by the Government of Nepal revealed that 3,600 of the surveyed 23,000 public schools and buildings were completely destroyed. Further school surveys indicated that 50 percent of school buildings were structurally vulnerable, and 20 percent had completely collapsed. These assessments have been critical to understand the status of public infrastructure and provide a basis for the recovery and reconstruction plan.
  5. Moving towards resilience
    As Nepal’s designated reconstruction vehicle, the National Reconstruction Authority has acquired vital knowledge, experience, and lessons of post-earthquake reconstruction since its establishment. The transfer of such knowledge to concerned authorities, including the newly established National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) at the federal and local levels is an essential element of NRA’s exit strategy. ICNR 2021 is one of such attempts to transfer and share knowledge to local as well as global audiences.

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The EHRP has supported local government officials and engineers in the earthquake affected areas to incorporate long-term disaster resilience into local level plans and policies. The World Bank will continue to work with the NDRRMA by supporting activities on disaster preparedness, capacity building, and institutional strengthening for a disaster-resilient Nepal.

The World Bank will continue to work with the NDRRMA by supporting activities on disaster preparedness, capacity building, and institutional strengthening for a disaster-resilient Nepal.

To learn more about Nepal's post-earthquake reconstruction, register for the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstrution. 



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