How Pakistan built back better after floods
What happens without shelter recovery programmes after flooding. These people have been living in tents for over two years after the 2010 floods in the city of Jacobabad, in northern Sindh province.They lack the resources to rebuild. One community did rebuild mud houses, but they collapsed in a subsequent floodMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
This woman lived in this exposed shack with her extended family for two years after the 2012 floods, also in Jacobabad. She is about to move into the house behind, rebuilt by family and neighbours with technical support from the Pakistan NGO HANDS and UK firm Strawbuild. The project cost less than US$300 per familyMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
A simple, locally fabricated brickmaking machine used in a project in northern Sindh province managed by HANDS. Costing around US$200, the machine compresses soil and lime to make strong, dense blocksMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
The earth-lime blocks are left in the shade for 28 days, and regularly sprayed with water, to allow the lime to carbonate properly a slow process of drying by absorbing carbon dioxide. Then the blocks are submerged in water for a month or more, to make sure they are flood resistant before useMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
Finished homes built from cured (hardened) earth-lime blocks. Families did the painting themselves, without being asked, showing pride in their workMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
The Sukkur barrage, built by the British between 1890 and 1932 using lime in the foundations and arches.It is often used as a way to explain to communities how strong lime can be and how well it can cope with floodingMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
A house built using earth-lime in another village, in a project managed by the NGO ACTED. Shading the wall allows the lime coating on the blocks to slowly absorb carbon dioxide from the air, becoming much harder and more water resistant over time. If it carbonates properly, it will continue getting harder for hundreds of yearsMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
A woman plastering walls of the home she has built after having made and laid the blocks at a Hindi village in Umerkot district, southeastern Sindh. The project, managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), trained equal numbers of men and women, so it was common to find women in charge of reconstruction workMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
Traditional and new building in southern Sindh, built by a community supported by IOM and the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan. The new structure, in white, is far stronger and more flood resistant than the traditional one and shows some key differences: a raised platform, extended roof eaves and good quality lime-based plastersMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
A house painted by local women in Sindhs Mirpurkhass district. It was built with help from IOM partner CEWA, a local NGO. The villagers worked hard to raise floor levels about a metre above the ground so they survive many floods.The structures bamboo roof joists were pioneered by the Heritage Foundation of PakistanMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
A house built in the vernacular style of southeast Sindh, using lime blocks and with a locally made roof. There are many different architecture styles and cultures in the province. The project tried to reflect these rather than imposinga single design. Brick and mortar could never have been adapted in this wayMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
A spacious traditional house for a family in a Hindi village reconstructed by the NGO HANDS, in Sindhs Sanghar district.The thatched roof was created by skilled local workers. Most rooves include plastic below the thatch and mud but no plastic was used here so hot air can escape, keeping the building coolMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
One of a series of posters produced by natural building firm Strawbuild and left in the community to help people remember the building techniques they had been taught. The posters were initially produced for HANDS, but were later scaled up to support IOM and ACTED shelter projectsMagnus Wolfe Murray/DFID
IOM partnered with 22 local NGOs and worked with the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan for advice on design and training. HANDS linked up with Strawbuild, a UK-based natural building firm experienced with using lime. In both cases, local expertise was combined with input from an international organisation. All partners’ work carried on after the 2012 floods, when a further 390,000 houses were destroyed in areas that were also affected by major flooding in 2010.
This image gallery shows how the project used traditional materials and adapted vernacular design. Lime was a major ingredient: it is a cheap, local material that massively improves buildings’ water resistance. The project assisted over 107,000 families and saved around US$50 million, as well as 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, by replacing conventional brick and mortar construction.
This article is part of our Spotlight on Shelter crisis: Rebuilding after the storm.