AWASUKA is a cooperation program that has always been faithful to this definition, both in its projects and in its way of operating. The program is not an organization in itself, but rather a knowledge platform promoting various projects and activities from which other entities and organizations can benefit in order to implement them.

AWASUKA was created in July 2015, after the earthquakes in Nepal. Its name comes from the Nepalese words Aawaas Sudhar Karyakram (Habitat Improvement Program).

It has been developed by Amics del Nepal, Base-A and CCD (Centre de Cooperació i Desenvolupament de la UPC). In Nepal, through the Rotary Club of Kantipur, in Kathmandu, and a local agricultural cooperative, Agraagami, it has hosted Bhimphedi’s lines of credit.

The AWASUKA program always works from different lines of action and with a clear goal: to transmit knowledge to and to raise awareness among the inhabitants of the area regarding safe houses. This has been developed through the construction of antiseismic houses and smoke-free kitchens, as well as through raising awareness about water treatment. The longest and most complext part of the program has been the construction of houses, which has follwed different stages: analysis of the local architecture, construction of prototypes, and construction and reinforcement of houses.

To these mentioned lines of development we have to add a new one for this year 2020. AWASUKA is being undertaken in a heritage preservation project in the municipality of Bhimhedi, thus trying to stop the destruction of ancient buildings and to highlight the heritage, culture and architectural and construction techniques characteristic of the municipality.

You can find more information on AWASUKA’s website.

AWASUKA program’s impact

  • VISITED AND ANALYZED OVER 150 HOUSES . Study of traditional building systems in rural Nepal.
  • TRAINED OVER 100 PEOPLE IN EARTHQUAKE-RESISTANT CONSTRUCTION. This training took place during the processes of prototypes’ construction (over 25) and houses (over 75), ranging from apprentices, roustabouts, masons and workers, to the beneficiaries themselves. Certificates delivered in July 2017.
  • “CONFINED CONCRETE BLOCK” APPROVED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF NEPAL . Seismic-resistant construction system approved by the NRA (Nepal Reconstruction Authority). Developed to be adapted to the rural environment and currently available accross the country for everyone to implement. It is a very simple construction technique to build, fast and economical.
  • OWN REINFORCEMENT SYSTEM. The system, a mix of different reinforcement techniques, is a very simple, economic and effective one. It improves the seismic-resistance of traditional Nepalese stone and mud architecture. Furthermore, it provides a perfect cultural and landscape adaptation.
  • 20 EARTHQUAKE-RESISTANT HOUSES. These houses are equipped with seismic-resistant characteristics: prototypes, new houses and reinforced ones, where the various developed construction systems have been put into practice.
  • 333 SMOKELESS KITCHENS. These are equipped with a fireplace and an improved kitchen. It also includes the corresponding sessions on raising awareness, which have impacted about 1000 families in the whole municipality of Bhimphedi (developed in 4 months).
  • 100 BOTTLES OF CHLORINE SOLUTION. Distributed in remote areas, where training sessions on water treatment have been carried out, besides having risen awareness about fireplaces and smoke-free stoves.
  • PARALLEL PROJECTS FOR THE CITY COUNCIL: the first satellite map of the municipality, waste management report, photo dossier of historical buildings, advice and advocacy for the preservation of historical heritage.
  • 5 BROADCASTING VIDEOS. Videos on Safe Homes to be used in raising-awareness sessions. Altogether these videos have over 20,000 visits on YouTube, Block Wood gold Stone being the leader with 16,000 views.
  • WEB AWASUKA AND FINAL MEMORY. Documents for the diffusion and dissemination of the acquired knowledge (over 20 downloadable documents).

Smokeless kitchens. 2020 Project

In times of COVID, house has become the only safe place where humans can take refuge. But not everyone in the world has a safe house. After many years of experience making earthquake-resistant houses in rural Nepal, AWASUKA has ascertained that there is a much bigger problem: smoke from kitchens, also called “the silent killer”. Inhalation of toxic gases causes chronic lung diseases, which make rural communities more vulnerable to COVID and other equally severe infections.

While the earthquake killed 9,000 people in 2015, toxic fumes from kitchens kill 24,000 people prematurely each year, mostly women and children (WHO, 2019). This is why AWASUKA has focused its priority on the installation of stoves with chimneys as the optimal solution to eradicate smoke from kitchens.

During 2019 AWASUKA and Practical Action collaborated in the installation of 333 chimneys in Makawanpur District.

AWASUKA – PRACTICAL ACTION | Chimneys in Bhimphedi Municipality

In 2020, AWASUKA collaborates with El Camí de la Solidaritat to install 500 more chimneys and to be able to bring the project to more areas of Nepal.

DOWNLOADS: Project Documents

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The eradication of smoke in kitchens contributes to three of the UN’s SDGS (Sustainable Development Goals):

SDG 3 – Good health and well-being.

Exposure to PAH is the main risk factor for diseases such as childhood pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, ischemic heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. Furthermore, it is also related to increased risk in neonatal health: fatal delivery, low weight and decreased lung function.

SDG 5 – Gender Equality.

Reducing the time spent collecting firewood and cooking allows women to spend more time with their children and improve their economic or educational opportunities.

SDG 13 – Climate action.

Short-term climate pollutants like black carbon and methane (CH4), as well as other greenhouse gases such as carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2), are emitted due to incomplete combustion of fuels, such as when cooking over open fires or with inefficient stoves. Improved stoves can reduce fuel consumption by 40-60%, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions.

The total price of a kitchen with fireplace (including materials, manufacturing and installation) is 100 €. The families pay FOR 10% of the total amount and also collaborate in its construction — They collect the necessary materials for the improved kitchen (stones, water and clay) and transport the metal sheets from the nearest passable road to their homes.

Why this kind of kitchen?

The model to be installed was designed by Practical Action 10 years ago, in collaboration with Bosch-Siemens and some European universities. Later on, it was later tested and refined in the field. Finally, AWASUKA introduced some additional improvements. Every smoke-free kitchen comes with:

Metal chimney, which comes out through the roof and, thanks to its design, prevents water from entering from the outside.

Funnel-shaped metal hood, which conducts the smoke by convection into the vertical duct.

Improved stone and clay stove, with 1, 2 or 3 burners and a design that improves combustion, contributing to a 40% saving in firewood.

The operation of this set is highly optimized: more than 90% of the smoke from the space is expelled to the outside, generating a clean and healthy environment inside, where mothers and children can cook without their health being affected by the smoke. The reasons for choosing this type of kitchen for remote rural areas are as follows:

  • 100% acceptance of the beneficiaries. It perfectly fits into their culture and frees them from toxic gases.
  • 40% time saving during firewood collection (due to the saving of firewood from the improved kitchen), which women can use in business or for study purposes.
Education of household head by gender 1
  • Lack of fuel alternatives. Electric cookers are not an option as only 17% of the population in Nepal has access to TIER 5 type electrification (needed for cooking) and, in addition, the supply is very unstable in remote areas.
Distribution of primary stoves (urban-rural) 1
  • Biogas is not very widespread because it costs to implement, as maintenance is very difficult in remote areas. Gas bottles are expensive and difficult to transport, since the nearest passable road can be more than 3 hours away on foot. Therefore, firewood is the only alternative for biomass in remote areas. Nevertheless, the problem arises with the lack of ventilation, which is solved with the chimney.
LEFT: Fuel penetration rate: share of households using a type of fuel (nationwide) – RIGHT: Ventilation structure and cooking location 1

1 Nepal beyond Connections – Energy Access Diagnostic Report 2019, MTF, World Bank, ESMAP, SRED.

2020 AWASUKA Team

Mònica Sans – Director
Anna Gonzalvo – Technical Director

Architect Advisors: Pedro Lorenzo (Dr. in Architecture, Expert in Cooperation), Amaia Celaya (International Consultant UN-EU) and Montserrat Bosch (Professor at UPC and member of GICITED).

UPC architects: Carlota Gala, Pablo Castillo, Raquel Marcos and Mar de Castro

HEC Paris: Margot Lebourgeois, Elena Pompilio, Priyal Singh, Elisa Solà and Roger Solà.

Computing: Carles Turró (Computer Scientist and former athlete)

ISP/Website: Sergi Navarro (Cloutions)


Social driver and local coordinator: Hareram Pudassaini

Rotary Club contacts: Prabhat Yonzon (Kathmandu) and Ram Prasad Sharma (Hetauda)

Advisors: Min Malla (Practical Action – Katmandú) and Ram Magrati (MRC Hetauda)

You can find more information on AWASUKA’s website.