The Ithaka Institute is pleased to announce our second educational odyssey where travelers will not only experience the beauty and splendor of Nepal, but will learn how Nepali farmers are improving resiliency and creating new rural jobs through climate farming and biochar based agro-forestry. Compared to our first trip earlier this year we include a broader perspective of rural Nepali life. The trip is planned for November 20 – 30th, 2016.
In 2014/15 we had the opportunity to work on an Asia Development Bank project and to introduce biochar into Nepali agriculture. Working in 15 villages and setting-up more than 140 field trials with various different stable and cash crops, we gained valuable experiences on how to increase yields substantially using low amounts of nutrient enhanced biochar.
The reforestation of the planet may well be the last resort to save humanity from climate change and biomonotony. If we don't start now to grow trees, even if only with small projects, the dust under the sky will cover the last blade of grass. In Nepal, when the disaster of the trembling earth struck, the women of a village in the mountains decided to plant trees and recreate life so that the lost generation will return. 10,000 trees were planted with biochar to re-fertilize and protect the soil, capture carbon and generate a stable income. These pioneers became the first village in Nepal to sell carbon credits from plants that grow food for their children and sequester carbon for the planet.
We had built such a close relationship with the biochar farmers participating in our ADB biochar project that we could not simply leave them alone after the devastating earthquake destroyed their homes. Thanks to the generous donations of the friends of Ithaka and a building design as beautiful as it is simple, all 20 farmer families that lost their homes were able to move into new, safe earthbag houses only a few short months after the earthquake . The houses are made using 95% local, natural materials and were built without machines but with local craftsmanship and many helping hands.
Many thousands of clay houses crumbled during the recent earthquakes in Nepal. But that did not happen because of insufficient strength of the clay as a building material, but rather because basic construction rules were disregarded. Gernot Minke, an international expert on clay building, explains in this interview how to build clay houses that resist earthquakes even better...
The construction with earthbags is the cheapest and most simple way to build rapidly safe houses with natural materials. However, some principle rules of statics and earthquake resisitant building have to be respected. The following guidlines try to give an easy to understand outline of the main principles to follow in order to be safely housed in your new building.