Coordination and communication is to be ensured between all national and international partners involved in the rehabilitation phase
The Chauk Earthquake of August 24, 2016 in Myanmar impacted 389 monuments in Bagan to varying degrees. After a three-month response period, a coordinated rehabilitation phase has begun. Coordination and communication is to be ensured between the numerous national and international partners involved in the rehabilitation phase. To facilitate this, a draft ‘Rehabilitation Check-List’ has been prepared.
The first phase focuses on preparation. The checklist includes documentation, assessment, research, inventory of salvaged materials and temporary interventions. Only once the preparations are completed to a satisfactory manner, with sufficient documentation, assessments and research, will work continue on to the next phase. The inventories of all salvaged materials from any specific monument or site will be prepared and where possible their original location determined to allow for reuse of materials where possible and appropriate. Various temporary interventions might still be required even after the initial assessments and response activities and these will be carried out in an appropriate manner considering the impact on long-term rehabilitation.
The second phase focuses on design and planning. The checklist includes structural interventions, conservation, material (requirement and supply), artisan (requirement and availability) and implementation planning. The design and planning of interventions will consider the structure as well as the ornamentation and focus on both technical as well as practical considerations. The reuse of salvaged materials will go hand in hand with the required skills in traditional building crafts or use of appropriate modern technology. The required human, material and financial resources will be ensured along with the phase-wise work schedule indicating critical paths as well as preparations for the implementation phase.
Once the design and planning have been agreed upon by the respective authorities, phase three implementation will begin. The checklist includes rituals, documentation of implementation, supervision and monitoring, handing over procedures as well as audit of quality and finances. This means the procedures must follow traditions while being monitored for compliance to rehabilitation guidelines. The projects will be handed over to the site managers along with an audit on quality of work as well as finances that will be made public as soon as it is finalised.
The ‘Rehabilitation Check-List’ will be used as part of any agreement with national and international partners to clarify the content and schedule of projects. Should a specific party agree to carry out only certain activities on the ‘Rehabilitation Check-List’, then the agreement will only be finalised once other partners are determined for the remaining activities. During the implementation process, the same ‘Rehabilitation Check-List’ will be used by the responsible national authorities to monitor progress and phase wise implementation. Each phase will be completed to a satisfactory degree before the next phase begins. However, there might be certain circumstances where an intervention cannot be designed due to lack of research requiring the process to return to activities in earlier phases until a satisfactory result is achieved. Phase three implementation will not begin without the national authorities agreeing to the design, interventions and overall implementation planning.
In Nepal, we have various initiatives going on responding to the damage caused to monuments and historic buildings by the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake. Each involved authority, national and international agency and expert has their own understanding of approach and procedure. There are additionally those who don’t seem to have any idea, such as numerous contractors given the task of reconstructing temples. The lack of a mutually agreed upon and enforced rehabilitation procedure and guideline is causing havoc in the post-disaster recovery of the culture sector. It is high time for the respective authorities to acknowledge these circumstances, reassess the situation and bring the culture sector rehabilitation back on track. Even if no one will be held accountable for loss of local heritage, there will be monitoring done for World Heritage.
The author is an architect and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
A version of this article appears in print on February 18, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.