Mobile Team & Village Reconstruction Comities.

Since several months, trained teams of committed masons, carpenters and social workers hike in the highs of Batagram (North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan) in order to teach earthquake-resistance technique to local self-builders.

 Laurent Demarta

The French Red Cross and Architecture & Développement have committed themselves to train and teach rural self-builders. In order to achieve that goal, five "Mobile Teams" of four trainers have been recruited and taught. Each team is composed of two social workers (whose duty is to assemble the people in "Village Reconstruction Comities" and to support official issues linked to reconstruction) and two technical advisors continuously trained through varied trainings and constant monitoring of an expatriated engineer. Each village is visited every month for both a new training (second is running now) and direct practical advice on building actually under construction.

Some villages are as far as one hour drive in tough conditions plus three hours uphill hike. People of such villages had never had any help or support from International NGOs so far. The very presence of our Mobile Teams is a relief in itself for those forgotten populations.

But now that the Mobile Teams are in their routine, two more projects have been triggered. The first one is to provide an "Apprenticeship Centre" where people can come and have practical training, such as doing good quality concrete for instance. The second one is to offer an "Information Centre" where data and knowledge is gathered and discussed. This Centre will issue varied printed material, but also discussion and expertise to help promote some traditional resistant techniques.

The key fight on this respect is the "Batar" system, a local technique of piling wood and stones without cement. When skilfully brought up, the result has proven exceptionally resistant to the 2005 earthquake, but so far, only alien "post-and-beam" wooden structures with any kind of filling is considered acceptable by local authorities. Our current crux struggle is thus to study and prove the capacity of traditional and local "Batar".