Damage Resistant Homes for Pangrio’s Flood Affectees
31 May, 2012
For the residents of Pangrio, Badin floods are an annual occurrence. Whether because of poorly maintained irrigation infrastructure, greater than expected monsoon rainfall or because of an overflowing Indus River, losing hearth and home is an unwelcome, yet frequent misfortune that the villagers there must endure.
The flooding that took place in District Badin in last year’s monsoon season was the worst in more than a decade, with more than 1 Million adversely affected. Entire villages were washed away. In response to the catastrophe, the IKF provided humanitarian assistance and subsequently, with its implementing partner Karachi Relief Trust, mobilized communities in Pangrio to rebuild their own homes using an unusual yet sound construction method which has stood the test of time. Earth Bag Homes are made out of sand bags that are filled and stacked like masonry. Sand bags are also called earthbags, because they can be filled with any number of materials, including soil. They have a long history of use by the military for constructing bullet and blast resistant structures. Militaries around the world have used sand bags since the Napoleonic Wars about 250 years ago. That’s a very long record of proven performance, and sand bags are still used today because they have many desirable properties. The first sand bags were made of burlap; today they’re made out of woven polypropylene for even greater strength and durability. Sand bags (or earthbags) also have been used for many years in flood control. Millions of bags are placed around communities every year to protect against flooding. Average citizens often pitch in and work together with no training to construct barrier walls to prevent flooding.
The same characteristics that make earthbags ideal for military and flood control use – strength, durability, simplicity of use, low cost – also apply to constructing houses. In addition, earthbag houses are fire resistant, non-toxic, do not attract pests and can be built to suit any climate, most especially in places like Badin, where the summer heat is nothing short of scorching. The thickness of the earth bag (about 12 inches) doesn’t just ensure the walls strength but also that the home remains about 10 degrees cooler than it is outside. Most importantly, once the villagers have been trained on how to build this type of home by our implementing partner, it is hoped that the beneficiaries themselves may build these homes for others and possibly even earn a higher income then they do as unskilled labor, which is what the majority of our beneficiaries are. Approximately 240 such homes are planned for 10 villages in the Union Council of Pangrio. Stay tuned for more updates.