The journey towards sustainable green construction began in 2005 after a massive 7.8 Richter scale earthquake hit Hazara and Kashmir in Northern Pakistan. Since 2005, the Lari vision requires elimination of materials that contribute to global warming, and methodologies for its propagation in the form of Mobile Barefoot Karavan Teams (MBKT) utilizing student volunteers, local trained artisans and villagers. The Lari strategy of involving the youth and capacity building of the local communities will provide effective communication and economical and speedy construction without depletion of critical resources of the country.
The Green KaravanGhar (GKG), built in Swat and Khairpur in 2010-2011 as well as the adobe/mud walls and KravanRoof have been designed as low cost low carbon footprint shelters. Using local materials and local technologies these sustainable structures have been designed after a great deal of experimentation carried out since 2005 Earthquake.
This sustainable green construction can provide shelter at a very economical cost to the disadvantaged population all over Pakistan. The methodologies tried out since 2005 and during 2011 and 2012 in Sindh demonstrate that if good technical advice can be provided, through a participatory mechanism, shelter construction can take place at a rapid pace. This is true not only in disaster-affected areas but all over the country. The combination of adobe/mud walls and strong bamboo KaravanRoofs is suitable for rural areas of Pakistan, the bamboo cross braced structure with KaravanRoofs employs a very economical footprint and is thus suitable for the urban areas as well. The size of the house could vary from a single room shelter (as being carried out by Heritage Foundation in Lower Sindh) to one with a 10’x18’ room (suitable for 5 persons), verandah, kitchen, WC and bath (as in Khairpur and Swat) and even in the form of two storeys structures (as seen in Women’s Centre, Khairpur).
The MBKTs are already in the field in Sindh. Each team is able to build 50 shelters within a month. With large scale deployment and low costs it would be possible to spread the message to all parts of the country.
Emphasis on training and capacity building will be essential for successful implementation of the programme.
The following training programmes are envisaged:
The first emergency shelters that became known as KaravanGhar were designed by Yasmeen Lari for those affected by the Earthquake 2005. During 2005-2006 over 1150 units were built in 75 hamlets in Hazara, and another 300 were built by Japanese NGO NICCO in Kashmir, all above 5,000 feet.The design utilized material such as stone and wood from the debris of collapsed houses, along with the use of lime (instead of cement) in mortars, with provision for bond stones, g.i. sheets in corners and horizontal bracing in stone masonry walls. Galvanized sheet roofs were used due to scare of mud roofs that had collapsed during the earthquake. Structural advice was provided by Engr. Amin Tariq.
While studying local techniques of construction, the value of dhijii (cross bracing) had become clear as an effective and seismic resistant structural technique. From 2007, Lari decided to first use this technique in small structures such as bathrooms for executive accommodation at the Heritage Foundation Base Camp in Hazara and later in household kitchens and almost 140 household bathrooms that were built in Kodar villages in the Siran Valley.
By 2007 it had also become clear that galvanized iron sheets, that had been officially promoted, had been playing havoc with the environment and must be discouraged. The local technique of mud layers over wooden planks was far more suitable to the mountainous environment. The application of lime and mud layers on roof provided a weather resistant roof. From then on, all construction by Heritage Foundation began utilizing lime-mud roofs and several structures, including the Research House, where Lari lives when visiting the area, were built with this technique at the base camp.
Even though sustainable materials had been used, the use of wood in construction needed to be avoided. The turning point came in 2009. By this time sufficient research in mud mortars and mixes had been accomplished. The displacement of communities due to army action to curb militancy in Swat (North Pakistan), resulted in camps being set up in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Sitting in the camp, in a tent under intense heat of Mardan, Lari designed the first bamboo structure for community kitchens. The speed (it took 3 days to construct) and the insulation value of the combination of lime and mud (8-10 degree temperature difference) was extraordinary.
It was decided then to pursue the path of construction without wood, cement or steel. The experimentation carried out for all-bamboo construction has resulted in Green KaravanGhar as well as many other green structures for community use.
The techniques of construction had been tried out when the 2010 floods struck in Pakistan. The first project undertaken was in Swat where 300 Green KaravanGhar were constructed in remote mountainous areas from October 2010 to February 2011. These have been published as Green KaravanGhar: Swat Implementation Report.
Over 100 Green KaravaGhar were also built in the katcha area (the perennially flooded area) in Khairpur and an implementation report has been published regarding the methodology.
More innovation was brought here by construction two-storey floating bamboo structures on stilts, first as women’s centres and later for school and health facility as well. These structures have performed well during the 2011 floods by providing refuge to the community on the upper levels while the waters flowed through the stilts.
In October 2011, field work was undertaken for surveying existing vernacular construction methods. The cataloguing of traditional methodologies utilized in Lower Sindh yielded rare data from all tehsils/talukas of 8 priority districts. The data consists of sketches, notes and photographs of different kinds of structures and other related information regarding selected villages. It is available in the form of Reports.
This approach makes people part of working out their own solution with added benefits in fostering pride and encouragement to take charge of their own lives.
As of February 18th, the Green Community Centre, consisting of three circular modules each 16’ diameter, has been completed. The use of bamboo in the cross bracing and multiple bamboo joists, and filling with lime, mud and stone has provided suitable accommodation in order that basic services could be provided to the community.
The land has been gifted by a notable of the area. Services by a paramedic have been arranged, who at a minimal cost is providing primary healthcare to the surrounding areas.
One of the modules is dedicated to women’s assembly and a craft centre. A local woman has been asked to train other women in the area.
The third module will be used as a display centre for craft products that are being made by women, particularly those who had been trained under the HF-UNESCO-DFID programme during 2010. Most participating trainees are now able to earn their livelihood by working at home. Notable among those are the ones who were given handlooms. Most of them are able to market their products and have begun to earn at least 3 times of their earlier earnings.