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Promoting Safer Construction Practice- Training the masons in Nepal

Knowledge Management-Technology Transfer/Earthquake/ Pre Disaster

Throughout Nepal under various programs


Construction of residential buildings in a developing country like Nepal is primarily carried out by the informal sector, mostly the owner/builders. The prevailing construction practice does not incorporate earthquake resistant components and the existing housing stock is highly vulnerable to earthquakes. This shows a clear need of producing more trained masons by skill upgrading of the practicing masons as well as the newcomers in the construction sector. 

Masons are the key actors who translate designs into reality, especially in developing countries where more than 90% of the buildings are non-engineered, and the masons are commonly serving as the “best technical hands” available for building construction. Therefore, masons need to be aware of the technology they are working with in order to ensure optimum, efficient and effective use of the building materials and the construction processes.

NSET in its quest of promoting safer construction practice began training masons several years ago with the objective of making them aware of the techniques used for risk-reduction with a full understanding of “why” and “how”.

NSET started providing On-the-job training and classroom lectures for the masons during the School Earthquake Safety Program (SESP) in 1999. As it was observed that the Mason training was very effective and the impact was remarkable with high replication potential, Mason training became the integral part of the school safety program. However, the coverage – was very small as there were only few schools in SESP. Realizing the vital role of masons in earthquake resistant construction Mason Training evolved as an independent activity during 2003 as a part of Municipal program being implemented by NSET.

At present, the 5 day mason training program of NSET, which combines class-room training with hands-on field exercises, has become very popular in Nepal and abroad.

The positive impact of the Mason Training can be clearly observed at three major levels; in the community, in the attitude of the masons trained and the most important is in the construction quality and safety level of the buildings reconstructed. The community members have now a better understanding and faith on the construction technology introduced. This acceptance on the technology and availability of the skilled human resources will certainly result in better sustainability of the technology.

The masons, who were initially confused and reluctant to the technology, are now confident on their work. Their performance has been much better. The trained Masons have also been trying to implement earthquake resistant construction techniques in their communities. The organized efforts of masons have led to the creation of masons group and the group are now advocating for safer construction practice.

The fact that trained masons are paid better wages than those who are not trained and have a good reputation in society suggests that people’s attitudes toward safety have changed considerably.

It is obvious that increased awareness and enhanced capacity of masons help implementing building code effectively and practically. Making decision at the top level alone is not sufficient, there should be sufficient number of capable professionals in the field as well for the successful implementation of concept. Meanwhile, bottom-up approach is powerful for effective building code implementation. But at the same time, strong policy support and environment is indispensable for such activities. With multi-dimensional efforts, it is not too far to achieve the goal of earthquake safe constructions even in weak economy like Nepal.


• To upgrade local craftsmen’s skill in quality construction and develop skillful working human resources in earthquake resistant construction

• Start mitigation and preparedness through training and awareness at community level

All the potential house- owners, community


Trained manpower required for earthquake resistant construction technology

Increased awareness and enhanced capacity of masons help implementing building code effectively and practically

Making decision at the top level alone is not sufficient for the challenge of implementation

Bottom-up approach is powerful for effective building code implementation


Mason training is effective and impact was remarkable. The methodology is cost-efficient with high replication potential. The procedures developed by NSET has been adapted and used by government and other organizations working in earthquake risk reduction.


  • Earthquake Resistant Construction of Building Curriculum for Mason Training (Guidelines for Training Instructors), 2005


National Society for Earthquake Technology, Municipalities, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC)

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