National Housing Reconstruction Programme

Status: Completed

Highlights: Digital survey | 1.05 million buildings | 5.08 million individuals | 9.34 million pictures | 10 TB data

Problem and Context

The April 2015 Nepal earthquake devastated large swaths of the country, a scale of damage so large that the country had initiated a survey that spans 32 districts and over 1 million households. Through this survey, the Government of Nepal (GoN) planned to have comprehensive housing damage assessment data. This survey was conducted by over 3,000 trained engineers using a uniform criteria to ascertain the damage to the nation’s housing stock. The collected data from the survey was used to identify earthquake victims in need of housing assistance. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) used the database created as the basis of all GoN-initiated housing reconstruction programs and the data would in turn act as an effective accountability tool.

Throughout the project, the main challenges of this data collection process were:

  1. Collection of massive volumes of photographic and textual data in order to provide  multi-dimensional understanding of the damage that occurred to each building assessed. Each record also included information on physical damages to building structures, socio-economic attributes of the residents and regional demographic information - thus, making each record be around 10 megbytes in size.
  2. Enabling near real-time validation of these data in order to inform and expedite the subsequent repair, retrofitting and reconstruction projects.
  3. Storage of over a million records of households collected using mobile devices. These records needed to be hosted and managed on a Central Database capable of receiving the data remotely over the internet and round the clock.  
  4. Creation and operation of a Cloud Infrastructure (central database, physical servers, hardware and software components) that was robust, reliable and scalable.
  5. Creation of a system which facilitated robust validation, progress tracking and visualization of the hosted data.
  6. Transfer of data to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (previously MOFALD and now called Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MOFAGA)) database, where the collected data is used, to ascertain the damage to housing stock against a uniformly applied engineering criteria and identify beneficiaries eligible for housing assistance to be administered by the GoN.

Our Solutions

Kathmandu Living Labs provided end-to-end technical assistance to the GoN via the Central Bureau of Statistics in surveying, hosting, validating and disseminating all collected data. Keeping the central challenges of this project in perspective KLL, developed and deployed the following solutions.

  1. Housing Reconstruction Data (HRD) Collect: HRD Collect is a mobile application which is used for data collection and transfer of collected data to the central server located at Government Integrated Data Center (GIDC) in Kathmandu. The key features of this application are:
    • Offline data collection and validation suite which does not require connectivity of any kind while collecting data on the field.
    • Image compression algorithm which compresses captured images, reducing size of a 2.5 - 3 MB photograph to around 300 KB with minimal loss of image quality.
    • Separation of photo and text data to allow uploading of survey data using low bandwidth internet connection. Separately uploaded text and image data of the same record are automatically synchronized by the system.
    • Automatic generation of statistics (counts of surveys started and completed over different periods of time) and the sending of these statistics to a pre-defined SMS receiver via a simple push of a button.
  2. MIS System: After the collected data reach the central server at GIDC, these raw data and photos are made accessible through a secured and customized MIS (Management Information System). In order to facilitate near real-time validation of the collected data, this MIS generates different visualizations and summaries of the full or a subset of data, and is capable of exporting those in various standard data output formats. We were assisted by Ona Inc., who helped us setup the server-side data collection software (Ona Platform) on the local servers in Kathmandu.
  3. Progress Monitoring and Visualization Tool: This tool enables near real-time progress monitoring of the ongoing survey in multiple districts. It furnishes rich summary information through various interactive maps and charts.


Current Status
The survey is now complete in all 31 earthquake-affected districts. The combined statistics of these surveys are as follows:

  Total Surveyors Deployed `3000
  Nos. of Districts Surveyed 31
  Buildings Assessed 1.05 Million
  People Reached 5.08 Million
  Photographs Captured 9.34 Million
  Database size 10 Terabytes


In the News

Our work has been covered in various national and international media. MyRepublica, a national daily, did a cover story titled, ‘Banking on Data’. Observatory or Public Sector Innovation covered this work as ‘Post-earthquake digital revolution in Nepal’. KLL also received the ICT for Mountain Development Award 2018 for this work.


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