Terri-Jane Yuzda

Volunteers Needed to
Retrofit School in Kathmandu

Volunteer engineers and dollars are needed to protect students of a Himalayan school in an earthquake zone. Andrew Mitchell, P.Eng., said the seismic retrofit project for the Shree Mangal Dvip School in Kathmandu is needed because the school would almost certainly collapse in an earthquake.

Originally a project of University of Alberta engineering students and the humanitarian organization Engineers Without Borders, the retrofit is now under the wing of Partners For Sustainable Development, founded by Edmontonians Khaled Saleh, E.I.T., and Katharine Cross. Design work was well underway in early 2003, but now support is needed to turn plans into reality.

Mr. Mitchell, who runs his own Edmonton engineering practice, says the need is for experienced structural engineers to assist with design and detailing, and those with project management experience, possibly in the Third World. The hope is that a number of engineering firms will be interested in partnering on the project for financing. “We still need money for the project, and we need more exposure to raise funds,” he said.

Cost estimates are hard to come by at this point, but four other schools in Nepal have been strengthened in the $5,000 to $10,000 US range, said Mr. Mitchell. “This four-storey dormitory block may be more expensive, however, due to the use of structural steel cross-bracing and reinforced concrete shear walls.” Half the boarders will be away on holidays in June and July 2004, so Partners For Sustainable Development is aiming for construction to take place then.

The boarding school, home for about 200 children for about 10 years of their lives, is in a high-risk zone for earthquakes. It’s unlikely if one struck that the school would withstand it.

U of A students remain involved in the project. Volunteers from Alberta Energy, Komex International, Stantec and BP-TEC Engineering Group are also participating.
Anyone wanting to support the project or willing to volunteer should contact Mr. Mitchell at (780) 437-3688. Watch for a full feature on the seismic retrofit in an upcoming edition of The PEGG.

Home | Past PEGGs | PEGG Search | Contact Us