Rebuilding sustainable homes in flood-hit Pakistan

Kerry Boettcher
Friday 27 Feb 2015

Irshad Balouch started the Earth Homes Project in response to the devasating floods that affected some of the poorest regions in Pakistan, to help rebuild lives

The Earth Homes Project is an NGO which began in Pakistan in 2011 by entrepenuer, Irshad Balouch, in response to the devastating floods that hit his native land in the summer of 2010. Balouch saw a lack of support for people in the rural areas, who had suffered the greatest losses. Six million people lost their homes when a land area of 160.000 sq km was hit, and the poorest regions where most badly struck. For many of the people that lost their homes and villages, the cost of building materials was too high forcing them to sell their land or go into debt in order to rebuild. 

Earth Homes focuses on trying to find solutions for people to build their own affordable and stable, flood-resistant homes by themselves. Architecture plays a crucial role in finding new ways of designing, using the local materials and building techniques that are available, at an affordable cost. Sustainability is also taken into consideration.

Analysing the architectural weaknesses in the homes which had collapsed during the floods, the Project began working on a plan based on tradional architecture, making use of local building materials that were most abundant and readily available: earth, straw, lime and bamboo. These particular materials contribute to the sustainability of the design since they are highly accessible and do not require the use of heavy machinery in the building process, hence empowering people to build their own homes. 

The aim of the Earth Homes Project is to teach the residents of flood affected areas the necessary skills required to build a stable construction. They are involved in the process of rebuilding their homes, accompanied by skilled architects and craftspeople, employed by the Project, as well as volunteers and neighbours. 

Thanks to donations, the Project is able to cover the expenses of some of the building materials such as concrete and burnt bricks for strong foundations, wood for window and door frames, as well as basic tools.

The hope is that this will enable the community to be more resilient in the face of future natural disasters and to be able to rely on their neighbours and their own abilities. So far, the Earth Homes Project has been able to help build 121 homes around the area of Multan in Pakistan.

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