When a major earthquake in 2008 devastated the Sichuan Province in China, leaving nearly 5 million people homeless, CFC quickly approved a proposal for a fast-track pilot project, to assist the affected population to rebuild homes utilizing bamboo, which is a sustainable natural resource in China. The project, co-sponsored by INBAR, the ICB partner, was one of over 70 entrants in the World Innovation Competition, sponsored by the World Reconstruction Conference (WRC), where the project won one of the three top WRC Awards given out at the conference in Geneva.
AMSTERDAM–The prevalence of unmitigated natural calamities brought about by nature’s wrath, has in the past few years, caused vast human suffering, destruction of property and the near collapse of economic activities in the affected countries.
The earthquakes in China and Haiti in 2008 and 2010 respectively; mudslides in Latin America; floods in Pakistan and more recently, the tsunami and nuclear catastrophes in Japan, have shifted focus on disaster management policies and coordinated response efforts by the international community.
Natural disasters can severely set back national development strategies and spawn new challenges, such as population displacement, health and disease emergencies, food shortages and loss of homesteads.
In China, the massive earthquake in Sichuan Province in 2008 left 80,000 people dead or missing, 5.5 million homeless and 1.15 million deprived of any means of agricultural production or income.
The Common Fund has consistently maintained a position of assisting member countries, particularly commodity producers in their hour of need. This is one of the reasons why in 2008, CFC quickly approved the proposal for a fast-track pilot project worth USD 120,000 on how to assist the population affected by the Sichuan earthquake in rebuilding houses utilising bamboo, which is a sustainable natural resource in China.
“We at the Common Fund wanted to show solidarity with China, as the difficult recovery work was getting underway,” says Managing Director, Amb. Mchumo.
The project, co-sponsored by INBAR, the ICB partner, was entitled: “Development and Demonstration of Prefabricated Modular Bamboo Houses in the Earthquake Affected Area of Sichuan Province in China (CFC/INBAR 08/FT).”
Recently, EU President, Herman Van Rompuy, paid a visit to the project for a first-hand look at the rebuilding of the shattered communities and to see how various projects funded by international donors have strengthened the local bamboo industry and increased its capacity for socially and environmentally sustainable economic growth in the region.
In May, the CFC project was one of over 70 entrants in the World Innovation Competition, sponsored by the World Reconstruction Conference (WRC) in Geneva. The project received one of the three top WRC awards given out at the conference, which attracted more than 3000 participants involved in disaster risk reduction and recovery.
Amb. Mchumo says the CFC project served as a successful model to further expand the bamboo activities for small and medium enterprises. This is in line with CFC’s policy of providing modest financial contribution to fund pilot projects, that address a particular problem, and if successful, the results and outcomes are up-scaled by other players in the public or private sectors.
“This is testimony of the high impact of a relatively small CFC/INBAR intervention in the commodity sector. It is also encouraging that due to the catalytic support provided by the CFC for this fast-track project, financial support from other donors, such as the Citi Foundation and the EU Switch Programme, will continue further implementation activities for the project,” he said.
In Sichuan Province, pre-fabricated bamboo offers affordable and efficient green building technology and renewable material for building sturdy homes. In the face of economic dislocation, it also helped farmers and local communities by providing employment and income through bamboo farming, management and pre-processing.
Sichuan Province produces abundant bamboo resources and naturally the commodity was ideal for promoting and demonstrating that prefabricated modular bamboo houses and utilization of bamboo resources in the region, was a logical response to assist and to provide temporary accommodations, before the on-rush of the winter season.
Due to the CFC intervention in Sichuan, a growing demand of prefabricated houses for the disaster survivors was noted and was clearly appreciated.
Nianjun Shen, CFC’s project manager for the bamboo and rattan portfolios says, “With the great demand of prefabricated houses in the area and unique advantages of bamboo modular houses, local officials realized that it may be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate and promote the project in the devastated region.”
Shen adds that with prefabrication technology introduced by the CFC project, a large quantity of bamboo houses can be produced and assembled in a relatively short period of time and the contraptions are ideal, as disaster relief housing alternatives, as well as employment opportunities, by involving local residents in Sichuan Province in the bamboo housing production chain.
The Common Fund and INBAR’s partnership is supporting various commodity development and dissemination activities for bamboo in Africa, Asia and LAC regions.
Recently, CFC, together with the EU and the World Bank launched a regional initiative for economic development and adaptation to climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean, which builds on the region’s long history of building with bamboo. The project will also work with coastal communities in Ecuador and Peru to build elevated bamboo housing that will help them withstand floods, storms and other extreme weather events. [END-2011]