Architectural Design Magazine

ARCASIA Roundtable Summit for Post Disaster Reconstruction in Nepal

By IAP – RIC Team

The ARCASIA Roundtable Summit for Post Disaster Reconstruction in Nepal was held on the 2nd and 3rd of August, 2015 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Presidents & Representatives from Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA), International Union of Architects (UIA) Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), South Asian Architects (SAARCH), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Sri Lankan Institute of Architects (SLIA), Society of Nepalese Architects (SONA), USAID, UN, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Heritage Foundation Pakistan, Members of IAP including National Council & Executive Committee Members from various Chapters participated.

The Nepalese Ambassador to Pakistan H.E Bharat Raj Paudyal inaugurated the summit and thanked IAP for organizing this very important event. He spoke about the initiatives of his government in the last few months regarding reconstruction efforts in Nepal.

Presentations & Discussions
The Summit commenced with welcoming speeches by President IAP, Ar. S.M. Jahangir Khan, Vice Chairman IAP-RIC, Ar. A. Kabeer Malik, Hon. Secretary IAP-RIC, Ar. Ejaz Qadri & Chairman ACYA, Ar. Fawad Suhail Abbasi followed by brief presentations by the guest delegates. The speakers included Ar. Esa Mohamed (President UIA), Ar. Sathirut Nui Tandanand (President ARCASIA), Ar. Rukshan Widyalankara (President CAA) and Ar. Jayantha Perera (Past President SAARCH & SLIA) who all expressed their support for Nepal and shared their experiences of dealing with natural disasters and tsunami. President SONA, Ar. Kishore Thapa thanked IAP & ARCASIA for holding such an important summit and shared their current situation, the scale of devastation and the area’s most affected after the April earthquake. He informed the audience that the nation is in high spirit and working on rebuilding the country and this conference will help in a big way to come out with better conclusions and ways for counter these issues for the future.

The speeches by the foreign delegates were followed by presentations by renowned architects and experts from Pakistan & Sri Lanka, which informed the audience about the experience of the host country with natural disasters, especially earthquakes & floods and relief efforts carried out.

Ar. Jayantha Perera showed a documentary on the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka a few years ago and talked about relief efforts and nation building after the tragic natural disaster. He was of the opinion that we need to look at relief efforts which are foremost at the time but then look at local indigenous ways through architecture and improve the living conditions through cost effective means.

Ar. Yasmeen Lari shared her views on community involvement in reconstruction and presented examples of some of her work in affected areas of Pakistan; and Mr. Ahmed Kamal from NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) talked about the studies carried in the last two decades and his detailed analysis of the annual floods in Pakistan and the course of action taken to offer relief during any natural disaster within the country.

Dr. Qamar uz Zaman Chaudhry, UN Special Envoy on Climate change spoke about his experiences before and after the 2005 earthquake and the varying climate changes that have set a new course globally. He was of the opinion that more studies need to be done and future course of action defined immediately.

Mr. Tahir Shamsad, Vice President NESPAK gave a detailed presentation on his work post 2005 earthquakes and his role as Head of ERRA. He was of the opinion that we need to be standardize and create better awareness of the need of engineered structures, trained and improved workmanship with appropriate geometry. He also emphasized the need of RCC construction in vernacular ways, formalize the need to strictly follow building bylaws in zones that have been earmarked by the authorities post 2005 earthquake.

Roundtable Summit Session 1
The event thus proceeded towards the Roundtable conference. The conference started with a presentation by the General Secretary of SONA (Society of Nepalese Architects), Ar. Suman Meher Srehestha and Ar. Prajwal Hada who gave an introduction to the extent of damage caused by the earthquake and pointed out reasons for the collapse of built structures. Heritage conservation and promotion of indigenous knowledge were the themes touched upon. The presentation was further supplemented by the President and Past President of SONA who talked about the mindset of the affected communities and reconstruction measures taken accordingly.

The Roundtable delegates besides the Ambassador of Nepal, Presidents & Past Presidents of UIA, ARCASIA CAA, SAARCH, SONA,SLIA included Ar. Nela De Zoysa, the International Council Member RIBA, Ar. Harsha Fernando, President SLIA, Ar. S.M. Jahangir Khan President IAP, Ms. Jeniffer Mckay, Country Coordinator ADPC, Ar. Kalim Siddiqui, Vice President CAA, Ar. Swarup Koney, Past President SONA, Ar. Shahab Ghani Khan, Past President IAP & representing UIA, Ar. Syed Akeel Bilgrami, Past President IAP & Past Chairman ARCASIA who was also the moderator, Ar. Naveed Aslam, Ar. Rita Soh, Past President SIA( Singapore Institute of Architects) & Chairperson ACSR(ARCASIA Committee on Social Responsibilty)Chairman IAP-RIC and Ar. Fawad Suhail Abbasi, Chairman ACYA(ARCASIA Committee on Young Architects) who was the Convener of the Organizing Committee.

Succeeding the Nepalese delegation, the floor was then open for discussion on the objectives to be kept in mind for reconstruction. The topics discussed included selection of materials, whether technology or indigenous methods of construction should be adopted, social issues expected to be faced after a disaster, and community empowerment. A specific point which came into light and met unanimous agreement was the setting up of a Disaster Management Cell which could act as a platform for sharing information regarding post-disaster reconstruction. Thus the session ended on this note, which would be the topic of further discussion in the next session.

Architects Networking Dinner Night
Architect’s Networking Dinner night was arranged the same evening. Ustad Raees Khan, a notable violinist and recipient of Presidential Pride of Performance mesmerized the audience with his soulful performance.

Roundtable Summit Session 2
The second day began with breakfast and an informal discussion between the delegates about the conclusion to be drawn from the Summit. The session commenced with a brief overview of what was discussed the previous day, followed by brief presentations on the role of infrastructure in education, community engagement and sustainability. The session proceeded with Ar. Syed Akeel Bilgrami discussing the informal draft of the resolution formulated through previous discussions. A long debate ensued over the specifics of the resolution with each delegate offering corrections and additions.

The points covered in the resolution stressed on the need for a pre and post-disaster management body which holds information in its archives regarding disaster experiences from around the world, and provides assistance in case of an emergency in the form of expertise and assistance. Furthermore, the role of education in training young professionals and raising awareness about disaster management was also recommended. Sustainable and socially responsive designs as key strategies for re-construction were also discussed in detail.

The final resolution was thus agreed upon and signed by all the concerned individuals present, which concluded the Summit. The resolution will be presented for a formal approval at ARCASIA 2015.

The Roundtable Summit was a huge success and deliberations by professionals from across the globe to an effective conclusion.

The event was hosted by Vice President ARCASIA Zone A & Chairman, ARCASIA Committee on Young Architects (ACYA) and organized by Rawalpindi – Islamabad Chapter- Institute of Architects, Pakistan.

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