EMI DR: Nepal
photo Nepal Earthquake
Photo by Jesse Hoye

POSTED July 5, 2017 Update

In June 2017 EMI Uganda Construction Manager Laurence Knoop spent a month in Nepal supporting the work of Operation Mobilisation (OM) in the Langtang Valley. OM Nepal have been working in the Langtang community since before the earthquake, and are now managing the construction of demonstration houses to aid the reconstruction of communities in the Langtang Valley which suffered huge devastation and loss of life from landslides during the 2015 earthquake.

Laurence worked alongside OM Nepal’s project manager and engineer to provide advice on construction techniques and adherence to government guidelines, as well as providing basic training in project planning tools.

EMI Construction Manager Laurence Knoop discussing project planning tools with OM Nepal’s project engineer.

The new Langtang Village under construction, with the landslide (the site of the former village) in the background.

POSTED February 16, 2016 Team #6 Update

EMI is continuing its involvement in Nepal after the April 2015 earthquake. EMI team #6 is currently in Nepal working with World Vision (WV) to assess damage and design retrofits to 20 different schools in 3 districts. The school buildings are generally the older buildings at school campuses that WV has been supporting for the last 10-15 years. EMI engineers are working alongside Nepali WV engineers who will be overseeing the construction process.

Surajeet and Dan of EMI India discuss with World Vision staff in front of a damaged school building in Lamjung District. World Vision has been supporting this public school for more than 10 years and is committed to helping them be better prepared for the next earthquake.

We are also assisting Portal, a social business in Kathmandu, with their new project, Portal Prefab. EMI is providing engineering and design assistance for their prefabricated metal building frame. EMI is helping Portal to get approval of the design from the Nepali government so that it will be possible for international NGOs to acquire and distribute en masse. The design is based on the innovative concept of “Incremental Architecture”, where the donor builds part of the structure and allows the homeowner to finish it in time. In this case, the basic package is a metal frame with a chain link exterior wall. This wall could initially be covered in tarps, bamboo, mud, etc. As the homeowner acquires the resources, they can then build a permanent wall of stone or brick masonry, which is local practice. You can check out the work of Portal here, portalprefab.org.
— Andy

Portal staff ready an end-wall of the structure for a load test that will allow EMI engineers to eventually determine the lateral capacity of the structure.

POSTED October 16, 2015 Team #5 Update

EMI volunteer structural engineer Eric Lehmkuhl explains his sketch of a repair detail to Alex Rojji of World Vision (center) and Surajeet of EMI (left). This health post in Gorkha District, Nepal had suffered some moderate cracking damage in the stone masonry walls. World Vision’s Nepal Earthquake Response team are planning to repair and renovate rural health posts and schools which were damaged in the earthquakes earlier this year. Many of these structures had received the “unsafe” red-tag from government engineers. The 5th EMI DR team to Nepal spent nearly 60 hours in 4-wheel-drive vehicles over 10 days visiting 12 potential project sites in the Gorkha and Sindhupalchok Districts of Nepal.
— Matthew J. Coffey

POSTED October 8, 2015 Team #5 Update

Recovery efforts in Nepal continue nearly six months after the first of two earthquakes devastated the tiny Himalayan nation in April. EMI's fifth DR team is currently in Nepal working with World Vision and their local engineers to assess the structural integrity of nearly 20 schools and health clinics in some of the most affected areas. Consisting of EMI India staff members Matthew Coffey & Surajeet and EMI volunteer Eric Lehmkuhl, the team of three structural engineers is preparing appropriate designs to repair the damaged structures, improve their seismic resistance to future earthquakes and make them safe to occupy.
— Dan Kane

POSTED August 24, 2015 Team #4 Update

Howard Lehwald and Ben Keenan
Photo by Ben Keenan/Tearfund

After returning from Nepal at the end of July, EMI’s fourth DR team has been busy producing a 73 page handbook of detailed illustrations for rebuilding traditional stone masonry homes to better withstand earthquakes. The handbook and single page homeowner handout (shown) have been prepared for Tearfund UK, an EMI partner engaged in training masons and supporting residents as they rebuild.

EMI is hoping to place a volunteer structural engineer in Nepal for 6-12 months beginning in September as we remain committed to serving our like-minded partners as they implement their shelter reconstruction strategies.
— Dan Kane

POSTED JULY 14, 2015 DR Nepal Team #4

Howard Lehwald and Ben Keenan
Howard Lehwald and Ben Keenan (Tear Fund) in Nepal

On July 11th, EMI’s fourth DR team to Nepal landed in Kathmandu. The team of 3 includes Dan Kane - EMI’s DR program director, Howard Lehwald – volunteer structural engineer, and Lise van Overbeeke – volunteer architect. The team is in Nepal working with Tearfund and their local partners, including United Mission to Nepal (UMN). The goal of the trip is create graphically based instructional material to communicate techniques to improve the seismic resistance of Nepal’s traditional stone masonry houses. Tearfund will be using material to train masons and educate homeowners in Makwanpur District west of Kathmandu.
— Andy

POSTED JUNE 25, 2015 Team #3 Back from Nepal

Discussing design of temporary church
Children at the Himalayan Children’s hostel move forward with “normal life.” Today’s chore: polishing shoes.

EMI Team #3 has made it safely back from Nepal! In the last several days, they closed out work (for the time being) with World Vision. They were also able to visit the Nepalcada and Himalayan Children’s hostels as well as one of OM Nepal’s missionary’s residence.

They also touched base with Pastor Dev and the Beth-Shalom Putali Sadak Church. An engineer had visited the campus where he runs a ministry school and told them he had to tear down the top story of the dorms. After inspecting the building, the EMI team was able to assure Pastor Dev that the floor was perfectly alright and that he could use the money for other aspects of his ministry.

The next EMI team will touch down in Nepal in early July.
— Jesse Hoye

POSTED JUNE 19, 2015 Assessing School Damages

EMI team #3 has been busy continuing to assess school damages with World Vision. They travelled to the district of Sindhuli along with a team of child protection, shelter and education team leaders. The first day of assessing schools found them clambering over rocks, fording creeks and being tossed around in a 4 wheeler for five hours as they traversed some of the toughest terrain the EMI teams have experienced yet. The fact that they made it safely back to Kathmandu in one piece is a testament to the amazing skill of the local drivers.

Once back in Kathmandu, they accompanied two local World Vision engineers on another school assessment and gave them some guidance and training before they headed out to the field. It was great to see such bright and able Nepali engineers getting involved in rebuilding their country.

They continued their off-roading adventures in Sindhupalchok assessing more schools. They met the headmasters of the various schools and were encouraged to find many of them moving forward, reopening their schools by applying short term fixes to their existing buildings or using tents supplied by World Vision and other organizations. The rest of their time will be spent assessing several more schools in the Kathmandu Valley and hopefully meeting with several other local ministries in need of EMI’s service.
— Jesse Hoye

POSTED JUNE 16, 2015 Church Designs for NCFN

Discussing design of temporary church
EMI Volunteer Tommy Dew discusses the design of the temporary church with Rev. Tek Dahal (President of NCFN) and Dr. KB Tamang (NCFN General Secretary)

EMI’s DR Team #2 had the privilege to work with the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal (NCFN) during our time in Nepal. In doing so we got to learn a bit about the history of the young church in Nepal.

NCFN was established in 7th Jan 1960 when there were only 30 Christians in the whole country. As the number of Christians grew and establishment of local Churches took place in various parts of the country, NCF played a leadership role over the indigenous churches of Nepal as an umbrella fellowship. An anti-conversion law was introduced in 1962. As a result, persecutions against Christians and the Churches began to take place in several places and a number of Christians were imprisoned. In-spite of persecution, the work of evangelism continued to grow in various ways and planting of churches began to expand. NCFN in those days primarily provided fellowship and leadership to those established Churches and take care of Christians affected by persecution.

After the Monarchy system was ruled out and Nepal declared as Federal Democratic Republic System in 1990, the believers experienced a tremendous freedom in expanding Gods kingdom in this nation. Now it has been estimated that there are over 1,000,000 Christians in Nepal, and nearly 800,000 of them are associated with NCFN.

EMI developed designs for bamboo framed temporary churches and houses as NCFN seeks funding to reconstruct 1,100 of their 2,000 member churches that collapsed or were damaged during the earthquakes.
— Surajeet

POSTED JUNE 10, 2015 Assessment Work Summary

House destroyed by earthquake
This photo sums up the damage that these earthquakes have caused. Traditional stone masonry structures have been severely damaged, while reinforced concrete buildings have performed extremely well. The rural population has become extremely disenfranchised with using stone as a building material going forward.

EMI DR Team #2 has been busy picking up where Team #1 left off a few weeks ago. Here is a summary:
  • 12 additional staff houses for KISC have been assessed.
  • Repair details for 2 different orphanage / training centers are being developed.
  • To assist Medair’s planned permanent reconstruction work in Sindupalchok district, non-collapsed buildings have been inspected to determine structural factors leading to their relative good performance.
  • World Vision is building 64 temporary learning centers in multiple districts, EMI has evaluated their design and made suggestions to decrease the cost & construction time.
  • EMI is in discussions with 3 DR partners (Medical Teams International, Tearfund, and World Vision) to provide additional DR or traditional EMI design assistance in the coming months.
  • Lastly, Tommy Dew, and architect DR volunteer living in India has joined the team to develop temporary church and house designs for NCFN (more on this in a future update).

Tek Sharma in front of a prototype temporary classroom
Tek Sharma, a Christian Nepali Engineer working with World Vision, stands in front of the prototype temporary classroom he has recently completed. EMI was able to make some suggestions for efficiency of construction for this prototype, which World Vision will repeat 64 times in the coming 3 weeks!

EMI’s DR teams in Nepal have had the pleasure of meeting and serving alongside several Christian Nepali engineers. One of these men, Tek Sharma, is working with World Vision to assess 64 damaged schools and construct bamboo framed temporary learning centers for use while the buildings are repaired over the coming months and years. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Tek on the ride back to Kathmandu yesterday. Tek shared how he has always dreamed of being able to start a Christian NGO to provide Nepal with technical engineering services. So he was more than thrilled to have found out about EMI a few weeks ago from Jason Chandler (EMI DR Team #1 Team Leader). We spent the whole way back to Kathmandu discussing ways to get Christian Nepali design professionals involved in future EMI trips in Nepal and beyond. If EMI ever desires to start an office in Nepal, I think we have found our point man!
— Andy

POSTED JUNE 2, 2015 Second DR Team Continues Assessment Work

EMI’s second DR team will arrive in Kathmandu on June 3rd and includes Andy – EMI India Office Director, and Surajeet – EMI India Civil Engineer. They will be continuing work with KISC as well as following up with partners. The team will also be coming alongside National Churches Fellowship of Nepal and other local organizations, assessing communities in the more remote areas of Nepal and determining how EMI might assist in long-term reconstruction.
— Jesse Hoye

POSTED JUNE 1, 2015 First DR Team Returns

EMI’s first DR team has made it back safely from Nepal. In addition to meeting with more partners and continuing assessments in Kathmandu, they spent their last week travelling outside the capital city. Five days were spent assessing schools in the Sindhupalchok and Gorkha districts with Word Vision. One day was spent with Tearfund investigating a damaged water distribution system in the Makwanpur district. It is an honor and privilege to come alongside these ministries as they commit to helping these communities recover and rebuild.

While many villages have been devastated by this earthquake, the team was surprised to discover some areas that, although they have claimed high damages, have been minimally affected. These claims highlight the need for engineers to assist in finding out what actually is safe and what is not.
— Jesse Hoye

POSTED MAY 22, 2015 Disaster Assessments Map

Assessment map
Over the last few weeks the EMI DR team has been moving around the Kathmandu Valley meeting with partners, assessing structural integrity of buildings, evaluating damaged water systems, and offering recommendations all along the way. This map provides a visual representation of their assessment locations throughout The Valley. We’re glad to be able to serve the people of Nepal in this way.

POSTED MAY 15, 2015 Join a Disaster Response Team to Nepal

Engineers needed in Nepal
The needs are real and your skills are relevant. Join us as we design hope in Nepal. Join a DR team today.

POSTED MAY 12, 2015 EMI Assessment Team Safe in Kathmandu

On May 12th Nepal was hit by another major earthquake.  The epicenter of this 7.3 magnitude earthquake was near the border between Nepal and China, east of Kathmandu and was felt strongly in the city.  This occurred while the EMI team was performing structural assessments at homes in a densely populated and older area of town and gave the team the opportunity to see visual evidence of the fear that the people in Nepal are living with each day since the earthquakes began.  It was clear how this shake had brought them back to the terrifying and helpless place they found themselves in when the original quake hit. There were many tears as people stood around, some lucky enough to be holding onto their loved ones while others frantically tried to get a hold of those that were outside their embrace. It was a wakeup call to the impact this earthquake has had not just on the buildings of Nepal, but on the psyche and hearts of the Nepali people. Thousands still feel anxious and insecure.  
— Jesse Hoye

POSTED MAY 10, 2015 Field Report – Structural Assessments

On May 10th EMI’s first DR assessment team landed in Kathmandu, Nepal and were tasked with performing structural assessments for SIM and the Kathmandu International Study Center (KISC) as well as connecting with various partner ministries who are working in Nepal to provide relief.  Thankfully, the homes of the KISC staff that have been assessed so far have not shown immediate cause for concern regarding their structural integrity.  The EMI team has been able to provide recommendations for repairs to prevent further damages and have most importantly been able to reassure the KISC staff that their homes are safe. Practically everyone has expressed that they can now go about their daily lives and sleep in peace. It is a privilege for EMI to help them feel at home again in their houses.

As architects and engineers, we can offer people a temporary peace of mind by telling them the safety of their homes. But as believers, we have a deeper peace to offer. We can, as God provides appropriate opportunities, point others to the only one who cannot be shaken and is calling “come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Please continue to pray for peace for the Nepali people and pray that our team will be able to serve them well. 
— Jesse Hoye

POSTED MAY 8, 2015 EMI mobilizes a team to Kathmandu

On Sunday May 10th the first EMI Disaster Response (DR) team will arrive in Nepal and includes Jason Chandler - EMI WASH Director, Jesse Hoye – EMI DR Intern and Craig Cole - Structural engineering volunteer.  Upon arrival the team will be working with Serving in Mission (SIM) to assess damage and provide technical recommendations for the Kathmandu International Study Center.  Additionally, the EMI team will be networking with our other partners near Kathmandu to assess damage and identify projects for follow-up EMI DR Teams.

EMI has made nearly 30 ministry partners aware of our services and we expect many requests for technical assistance.  We will continue to need structural and civil engineering volunteers in the coming months as we send teams to assess damage and make crucial recommendations for next steps.

Please help mobilize these assessment teams by volunteering and making a donation today.


All of us at EMI are saddened by the news of the recent earthquake in Nepal. Our prayers are continually with those who have been affected, especially our friends and partners whom we have been serving for many years. Right now, they are living in tents outside their homes waiting for the aftershocks to stop and thinking about what they need to do to keep their families safe and cared for.

EMI's Response
Our ministry partners in Nepal are assessing the great needs in their communities. Meanwhile our DR team is preparing to respond when we receive the call to join the relief effort. We are eager to engage because we know the need is so very real, the skill set of our structural and water resource engineers is relevant to the need, and our team is ready to respond.

What you can do
You can join the EMI effort in Nepal by serving with a disaster response team, making a donation to help support our efforts, and praying.

Prayer Requests:
  • For our Nepali partners who are doing everything they can to care for their own families and assess next steps for an appropriate response in their communities.
  • For EMI to be able to effectively communicate with our partners on the ground and wisdom to respond appropriately.