Meet the First Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow with Build Change

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, Timeline, Build Back Better, Homeowner-driven reconstructionLeave a Comment

Originally posted by Paul McEntee on August 17, 2017 on the Simpson Strong-Tie Structural Engineering Blog Introducing James P. Mwangi, Ph.D., P.E., S.E. – our first annual Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow with Build Change. James Mwangi will write a quarterly blog about his experience throughout the Fellowship. I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute this post and feel honored to be the first-ever Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow with Build Change. It’s my hope that this post will inform you about my professional background, why I applied to the Fellowship and how I think the Fellowship can benefit people and the structures they live, … Read More

Technology in Post-Disaster Reconstruction: How One Woman is Contributing to Thousands of Safer Homes in Nepal

Build ChangeEngineering explanations, women, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Women in engineeringLeave a Comment

Women are leading the way towards the recovery of earthquake-affected communities in Nepal. Nearly 750,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed in the earthquakes in early 2015, leaving families in temporary shelters and students learning in makeshift school buildings. Rebuilding this infrastructure so that it does not collapse again in a future earthquake takes more than just bricks and money. Access to professional engineers and trained builders, along with other information on safe building techniques, are all crucial to rebuilding safer houses and schools. So, how do people in rural areas – often with unreliable transportation and communication systems – gain access … Read More

5 Lessons on Leadership from the AMEX Leadership Academy

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The American Express (AMEX) Leadership Academy is an annual training program which was launched in 2009 at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University through a partnership with AMEX. More than 270 managers from over 90 organizations have been served and benefited through the program. The curriculum focuses on the skills needed to run a successful nonprofit, while recognizing cultural nuances and molding specific lessons to different nonprofit niche needs. Each program targets up to 30 emerging leaders from around the world. Three Build Change staff attended the program in early 2017:  Haiti Program Manager Gaspard Pierristal, Indonesia … Read More

3 Organizations, 8 Volunteers, and 500,000 Damaged Houses: How Autodesk Foundation, Team4Tech, and Build Change are Collaborating on Efficient Earthquake Recovery in Nepal

Build Changeretrofitting, Better Building Materials, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstructionLeave a Comment

An estimated 500,000 houses are only partially damaged after the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. That means out of 750,000 houses estimated to be damaged or destroyed, 2/3 of them are still standing but cracked and unsafe for people to use. These homeowners are not in need of newly constructed houses, but an opportunity to save as much of their original house as possible and strengthen it through retrofitting. Retrofitting is an innovative and cost-effective method of seismically strengthening existing houses by strengthening structural elements and stabilizing the current structure, making them earthquake resistant. An estimated 2.5 million lives would be … Read More

Taking Time to Learn in Nepal

Build ChangeUncategorized, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Paul Wilson It’s been 2 weeks, nearly to the day, since I returned from Nepal while I am writing this -although it’s hard to tell precisely given this is the third time zone I’ve been in during that time- but I do know that I’m 2 weeks late in writing this blog. Admitting my tardiness is exactly why the experience of the RMS Impact Trek is of such value. We all have day jobs and commitments that absorb most of our time and it is a rare opportunity to be able to step outside our daily routine, to … Read More

On Being Women in Engineering

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, women, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recoveryLeave a Comment

Women play a crucial role in post-disaster reconstruction. In Nepal, where the population is 51% female, this has become especially apparent. Many women have taken on new roles and responsibilities since the earthquakes in 2015, and are at the forefront of permanent reconstruction efforts to build a safer future for their families, communities, towns, and cities. At Build Change, we have always placed a special emphasis on working with, hiring, and training women in the traditionally male-dominated fields of engineering and construction. Currently, 37% of Build Change global technical staff is female (compared to an international average of 11% of … Read More

The Impact of Data in Recovering from a Natural Disaster

Build ChangeUncategorized, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Jeremy Zechar  Hello, dear reader from the future. Perhaps you’re reading this without context, so allow me to set the scene. In March of 2017, RMS invited me, an unsuspecting client, to join their Impact Trek to Nepal. Seven other trekkers and I visited  Build Change, an organization whose Nepali operation seeks to help improve construction and retrofitting practices in the villages struck hardest by the April 2015 Gorkha earthquake. We toured some of those villages and regrouped at Build Change headquarters in Kathmandu. If, after reading the piece below, you want to know more, send me a message. Or read some of … Read More

Building Change in Nepal

Build ChangeUncategorized, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Amy Carter Having just returned from the RMS Impact Trek in Nepal I felt encouraged to write about the tremendous work which Build Change is doing following the devastating earthquake in April 2015. My awareness of the charity only really came to light when RMS announced they would be organizing the impact trek and choosing three clients to take with them. I was lucky enough to be one of those three. But this fact has also resonated how lesser known the charity is, especially in the insurance sector in which we work. Given my naivety, my assumption of … Read More

RMS Impact Trek Nepal 2017: Exploring Bhimtar and Eklephant

Build ChangeUncategorized, retrofitting, women, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Caroline Fox On our first day in the field we headed up to Bhimtar, a rural fishing community about 45 minutes from the main road and where we are staying.  Bhimtar was badly impacted by the earthquake, with most houses completely destroyed.  Since the earthquake occurred just before midday on a Saturday, most people were down by the nearby river and children were not in school.  All buildings in the village were destroyed, killing most livestock, but fortunately human fatalities were limited to the few people who had stayed inside.  Looking around the village it’s difficult to see where the original houses once were with rubble mostly cleared, … Read More

Retrofit Type Design Approved: A Turning Point in Nepal’s Reconstruction!

Build ChangeEngineering, Advocacy, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstructionLeave a Comment

completed retrofit house

An estimated 500,000 Nepali earthquake-affected homeowners in Nepal can now choose to retrofit their damaged homes. In doing so, an estimated 2.5 million lives would be made safe from future earthquakes and 30 megatons of construction materials, and 1 billion USD could be saved. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) approved the retrofitting type design submitted by Build Change for stone masonry buildings in mud mortar on June 4th, 2017, after review by Technical Committee including representatives from the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and leading Nepali structural experts. By approving this retrofit type design, the Government of Nepal opens the … Read More

Nepal: a Set of Challenges & Opportunities

Build ChangeUncategorized, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Maria Grazia Frontoso At 11:56am on 25 April 2015, Central Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake (7.8 magnitude), causing devastation to many parts of the country.  Luckily it happened when many people were not in their houses so the number of casualties was small compared to the number of destroyed or damaged houses. During the RMS Impact Trek in March 2017 I didn’t expect to see lots of houses still highly damaged neither many people (4 million) still living in temporary shelters. Almost 2 years after the earthquake! Rebuilding lost homes and livelihood is a slow and … Read More

RMS Impact Trek Nepal 2017: A Change in Perspective

Build ChangeUncategorized, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Paul Lewis  After several days in Nepal, including two days in the field, my views have changed. My assumption was that everyone was building new homes to replace those destroyed by the 2015 earthquake, and that these new homes would be better, safer, and more capable of serving the needs of the people that lived in them. I thought this was simply an issue of technical skill, logistics, labor and material resources, and money. But the truth is more nuanced and complicated, and Build Change is tackling the issue of home retrofitting. According to Build Change, retrofitting these … Read More

Not Just Houses, but Homes: What it means to be “homeowner-driven”

Build ChangeUncategorized, retrofitting, women, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Hailey Mitchell Have you ever thought about building your own house? Not just selecting the finishes, assembling IKEA furniture, or maybe laying a bathroom tile or two. I mean really starting from scratch: removing soil, mixing concrete (by hand), tying steel rebar, laying blocks… Would it change the way you felt about the building? Now imagine doing this in the wake of immense tragedy while you are living in a temporary shelter. This is exactly what is being done in villages across Nepal. But how? And why? My interest in participating in the Impact Trek (aside from the … Read More

Surigao, Philippines: Examining Damages after the 6.7-magnitude Earthquake on February 10, 2017

Build ChangeEngineering explanations, Philippines, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

From February 23 to February 25, 2017, Carl and Linnel from our engineering team in the Philippines performed post-earthquake reconnaissance following the 6.7 earthquake in Surigao Del Norte, on the north side of the island Mindinao. The team investigated and documented the response of rural school buildings and informal urban housing in the area, which will help inform our retrofit efforts in Manila and further our understanding of the seismic vulnerability of school buildings. The highest concentration of damaged housing exists in Surigao City, and San Francisco has experienced the most significant damage to schools. Unfortunately, San Francisco is inaccessible due … Read More

Damages from the Pidie Jaya Earthquake: School Assessments and Checking in on Build Change-advised Houses

Build ChangeEngineering, Build Change history, Indonesia, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

Day 4 – 22 December 2016 in Pidie Jaya District Today we had a chance to join the government team that conducts assessments for school buildings. Their team is divided into three groups, each with an engineer from the Ministry of Public Works, and a representative from each of BPKP (Financial Investigation Agency of Aceh Province), BNPB, and DepEd Pidie Jaya. The team will assess 54 schools that are reported to have high or moderate damage by the school staff. Schools which are deemed highly damaged will be demolished and replaced with a temporary emergency school. We split our team … Read More

Aceh Earthquake Response Day 3: Brickmakers and Damaged Buildings in Meredeu & Bandar Baru Sub-districts

Build ChangeEngineering, Indonesia, Better Building Materials, Bricks, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

  Today we visited two more affected sub-districts in Pidie Jaya. In the morning we went to Bandar Baru sub-district and visited two schools. The buildings are confined masonry, and include teacher housing. Walls have collapsed in a few of the classrooms and the library building. The damage that we found in those two schools are quite similar to the damage at the schools we visited earlier in the week: cracks in the walls near windows and doors, and separation between columns, beams, and walls. One of the buildings with teacher housing has metal roof framing and metal sheet roof … Read More

Reports after the Pidie Jaya Earthquake – Day 2 : Damages in Pidie Jaya and Trianggadeng

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, Indonesia, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

In the morning we went to the Pidie Jaya District to meet with the head of the district’s Department of Education (DP). On our way there, we observed some damaged buildings, most of which had suffered wall, column beam, and roof collapses.             We met with representatives from the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and Save the Children. They are collaborating to build 13 emergency school buildings. They are currently completing structural assessments and intend to complete the construction by December 25, 2016, as requested by the President. The designs have been prepared by the Ministry … Read More

Damages from the Pide Jaya Earthquake Day 1: Bieruen District

Build ChangeEngineering, Indonesia, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

Our reconnaissance team is composed of 3 Build Change staff and our driver Danu. Danny is the technical team leader for our current better brickmaking program in Lubuk Alung, West Sumatera. She also led the technical team in our previous technical assistance program in Aceh Tengah in 2015. Elwahyudi is a technical supervisor who is also currently involved in the better brickmaking program with Danny. We left Sunday at noon from Padang and flew to Medan. We then drove for about 10 hours to Bireuen, one of the three districts that were affected by the earthquake on December 6th in Pidie … Read More

After Hurricane Matthew: Investigating Housing and School Damages in Beaumont & Les Cayes

Build ChangeEngineering, Haiti, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

Today we visited the city of Beaumont located between Jeremie and Camp Perrin in the mountains. We met the Mayor of Beaumont, who described a similar situation as that in Moron. The main street of the town was not very affected by the hurricanes. The majority of the houses and commercial shops are made from unreinforced masonry with heavy roofs. We went with a municipal agent to visit the outskirts of the town. In this area, ­ 80% of houses were made from wood frame and stone masonry infill and 20% were constructed from unreinforced masonry. We saw again here … Read More

After Hurricane Matthew: Assessing Damages in Moron

Build ChangeEngineering, Haiti, Better Building Materials, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

Today we drove from Jeremie toward the mountains in the middle of the Grande Anse department. On the bumpy road along the Grande Anse River we saw dozens of houses with heavy damages from the hurricane. The houses are mainly constructed with a wood frame and stone masonry. The wind force shocked the buildings, provoking the fall of the top corners of some walls and cracks near the column joints. The use of mud mortar to place the stones is insufficient to tie the stone together well. We saw houses that withstood the hurricane better when they were plaster with … Read More