Katmandu, Nepal: My name is Manash Gadtaula and I am a national UN Volunteer in Nepal. I serve as a civil engineer in a team of eight for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) building demolitions project, as a support for the Village Development Committee. Demolition of houses can sound counter-intuitive but it is actually necessary in order to prevent further loss of lives during the aftershocks.
Since the buildings structural integrity is compromised during the earthquake, even if it is still standing it is actually no longer safe to stay in it; and these buildings must be safely collapsed with the technical support of civil engineers.
The situation in Nepal since the earthquake is critical and our tasks are urgent. However, once we finish this task, the public service buildings will be able to resume their services and support the local population. Similarly, people will eventually be able to go back to their normal lives and perform their daily activities again.
At the moment, unfortunately, we are still in a crisis setting and I would even say that we are in a war zone with no enemies. My colleagues and I are sacrificing the comfort we usually benefit from in our regular jobs.
We have two teams one is in charge of assessing the buildings in the various districts, and the other is in charge of carrying out safe demolitions. So far we assessed 550 households and six houses were demolished in one week but the situation is getting critical as the monsoon season is coming soon. We have to finish this task before the heavy rains hit us. Since we work under the pressure of a very tight schedule, we also trained a team of 17 local people in demolition procedures.
A usual day here is very different from our normal lifestyle. We reside in communities where we can see the devastation with our own eyes. Luckily we have well-organized management for this mission, and our team spirit helps us to cope with the stress of the situation. While I am on mission I live at the tent camp together with the government officials and other front line response personnel. It feels like having a second family here in the crisis zone when we are far from our own families at home.
I am happy to contribute to the well-being of my people in that way, even though it implies being apart from my family. Despite the hardships, this is a very enriching experience and I would like to thank UNDP for providing me an opportunity to join this mission.