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Nepal’s SHIV completes hempcrete building for non-profit clinic

Dental care unit in the Janakpur craniofacial clinic.Dental care unit in the Janakpur craniofacial clinic.
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Nepal-based Shah Hemp Inno-Ventures (SHIV) has completed a hempcrete structure that serves as a specialized craniofacial surgery and recovery center, the only such medical facility of its kind in the country.

“This facility gives hope to those in Nepal who need the help of specialists to treat their very serious health problems,” SHIV’s co-founder and CEO Dhiraj K. Shah said of the facility, which provides medical services to its patients at no cost.

Exterior of the craniofacial clinic in Janakpur.

A highly specialized discipline, craniofacial surgery addresses deformities of the head and neck such as cleft palate and other facial, jaw and ear anomolies.

International cooperation

The clinic is an international project supported by the UK’s InTouch Charitable Foundation and Future Faces, which provides training and support for medical professionals who treat cleft lip and palate. Future Faces, which focuses on helping disadvantaged children, sends specialized teams to Nepal every three months to assist the facility’s local doctors with the most acute cases. Shah said the clinic is treating an average of 10 patients a day and performing 5-6 operations weekly. Patients from all over Nepal travel to the facility for treatment, Shah said.

Located in Janakpur, where SHIV is headquartered, the new clinic comprises a dental unit with three patient stations, an x-ray room, surgery theater, recovery rooms and offices.

Building in process: The clinic’s exterior walls during construction.

A total of 1,475 cu ft. (42 cu meters) of hempcrete went into the walls and false roof of the 900 sq ft. (80 sq m.) build, which was completed for about $13,000 (€11,400) with $4,000 (€3,500) of that amount required for the hempcrete construction. While the substructure is metal, SHIV further framed the interior and exterior walls with bamboo, which grows abundantly in Nepal. The hempcrete mix is applied to bamboo mesh installed between the framework. The false roof and ceiling, made of pre-formed panels, completes the hempcrete envelope of the building, which has a tin roof. Construction took about a month, Shah said.

Using materials at hand

SHIV’s construction division processes cannabis that grows in the wild in Nepal. Gatherers harvest the massive stalks (up to 4m long and 8cm in diameter) and deliver them to the company’s factory where they are run through a decorticator to turn out build-quality hurd. The company employs local masons and laborers, training them in hempcrete construction as they raise new structures. Shah esimates SHIV has trained about 20 masons and more than 50 construction laborers in hempcrete construction since 2016.

The company also has developed SHIV Mix, a binding additive, and recently started slaking its own lime for hempcrete and lime putty for plaster. SHIV also offers a line of natural paints based on lime and natural pigments.

400 meters of hemp wall

Shah estimates that his company’s building division has completed 11,000 cubic feet (~312 cubic meters) of hempcrete construction, or 400 meters (~1,300 feet) of wall on projects it has completed since 2016. That includes a number of single family homes, hostels, hospitals, schools and other social projects.

SHIV started as a hemp construction company with a mission to rebuild homes after the massive earthquake that struck the country in 2015. Since that time it has rapidly developed other vertically integrated business units based on the hemp plant. In addition to making building materials and construction, SHIV makes health & beauty products such as oils and soaps, paper and artisan paper products, and textiles & accessories. The company is also an international hemp consultancy specializing in Community Supported Agriculture, small and medium enterprises and local economic development.

Click to see the film about the Janakpur craniofacial clinic.

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