Chong-Alai is a district of Osh region, in south-west Kyrgyzstan, at the Tajik border.
Chong-Alai from Osh, via a tortuous road over three passes at an altitude of over 3,000 meters. Chong-Alai is well-known in Kyrgyzstan for its beautiful mountains. Yet, people in Chong-Alai also experience harsh living conditions and poverty.
On the 3rd and 5th of May 2017, two earthquakes of magnitude 5.9 and 5.8 hit northern Tajikistan, not far from the Kyrgyz border. The tremors were felt in Chong-Alai, where five villages were affected: Chuluk, Jekendy, Shibee, Kara-Teyit and Kara-Muk, the last two of which were the most severely affected. About 5,000 people were affected by these earthquakes. Fortunately, the earthquakes did not cause any human casualty. However, heavy material damages and livestock losses have been reported, and almost 1,000 houses have been damaged. In rural Kyrgyzstan, houses are made of mud and straw, and can hardly withstand earthquakes of such magnitude. ACTED was one of the first NGOs to assess these villages. With the financial support of the Swiss Embassy, the most vulnerable families.
This project aims to support the reconstruction of 45 houses. In this case, it is possible to reconstruct the materials that have been delivered directly to the site, thereby saving money, which can be invested in more reconstruction works.
At the time of ACTED's visit to Chong-Alai, about 30% of the houses were still going to be finished and the masons were working hard to finish on time. Indeed, the objective is to complete two-room shelters before the beginning of winter - when villages are usually covered with no less than 2 meters of snow.
Moreover, with this project, ACTED's construction engineer trained local masons in seismic construction, with theoretical courses, practical exercises, demonstrations and follow-up of the work, to ensure that future houses respond to the best seismic construction practices.
In addition to this, a handbook on seismic constructions has been designed and distributed to all. This enabled people who could not participate in the training to integrate seismic items into their homes. 180 people did so, and when we visited the houses, it was not uncommon to see a manual hanging around a corner!
The project is now closed. In a new vulnerability assessment, ACTED showed that many people were still living in a category IV (heavily damaged) houses. And yet, the risk is quite high: the house could fall in the next earthquake. The Ministry of Emergencies Situations distributed 116 containers to the most vulnerable families so they could have a safe place to sleep. However, the situation remains worrying and due to a lack of living, families continue to use their house during the day.
ACTED Kyrgyzstan is now launching a new project to support families in building new houses.