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), tieing 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 Pide 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

Hurricane Matthew: Into Southwestern Haiti to Assess Damages in Jeremie

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The Build Change reconnaissance team for the South and Grande Anse departments is composed of 4 engineers and our driver Ken. Junior is a team leader who has extensive knowledge in retrofit and new construction in confined masonry. Gaspard is the program manager for our current retrofit and reconstruction program in Port au Prince. Herode is a trainer from the block department. Clement has been a project engineer for 2.5 years in Haiti working on house and school retrofits. We left early Tuesday morning heading to Jeremie in the southwest peninsula of Haiti. Hurricane Matthew hit the coast on October … Read More

RMS Impact Trek: Day 5 – Rebuilding Dhunkarka After the Earthquake

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I’ll start with a broad idea (not my own) that I believe is generally true: all around the world, local architectural forms have grown organically, mostly out of rural communities, in response to distinct physical environments. A few examples: throughout the floodplains of Southeast Asia, homes rise on stilts to allow the monsoon floods to pass underneath. In the Alps, steeply pitched roofs shed heavy snows. And in the arid mountains of Peru, thick adobe walls keep homes cool during the day and warm at night. In the same way, Nepal’s buildings are largely a product of the land the Nepalese inhabit: … Read More

RMS Impact Trek: Day 4 – Becoming an Observer in Eklephant and Bhimtar

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When I applied to the Impact Trek, one of the drivers of my desire to go was to see actual earthquake damage first hand. My experience with earthquake damage was numbers – how many buildings and casualties, how much loss in dollars. I’ve seen photos of damage – individual buildings, street blocks, aerial photos – but never quite connected with the reality of it all because I was so removed from it. I could look, sympathize, then move on with my day. However, being here in a remote village of Nepal, I see the scale of damage and it’s so … Read More

RMS Impact Trek: Day 3 – Retrofits in Dhunkarka

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By Alastair Norris We are now all completely submerged in Nepali time and the first four days have quickly slipped by providing in a huge mix of emotions. I completely echo the words of Christine and Matt on how much of a culture shock it was arriving in Kathmandu four days ago, but what once seemed so strange to us all now feels like the normal way of life. As Christine mentioned in her blog, the five of us parted company yesterday, with Matt B. and I heading to Dhunkarka whilst Christine, Meghan, and Matt N. went to Sindupalchowk. After 3 hours of … Read More

RMS Impact Trek: Day 2 – To the Hills in Sindupalchowk

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Nothing could have prepared me for the initial culture shock that set in while touring the streets of Kathmandu on our first day in Nepal. It may have been because I just finished a 24+ hour trip to the other side of the world and had nothing more than a few hours of airplane sleep, but I was extremely overstimulated. Walking (and driving) in Manhattan is a breeze compared to Kathmandu. To put things into perspective, imagine a narrow roadway that looks like it was designed to be a one way (partially paved) road. Now, imagine that same road being … Read More

RMS Impact Trek: Day 1 – The Other Side of the World

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Nepal.  The mere mention of the word conjures images of the lofty, snow-covered Himalayas and towering Mount Everest.  Here in Kathmandu, the world of the Sherpa feels as far away from me as everything else that is familiar and known. Now half a world away from home, I find I’m rediscovering my inherent and natural senses. New smells, strange tastes, constant sounds, bright colors, and the feel of the humid air on my skin all feel new, and overwhelm my mind.  Traffic, consisting of a whirled mixture of cars, scooters, bicycles, and daring pedestrians, moves chaotically through the winding snake-like … Read More

Day 3 & 4: Manta, Crucita and Portoviejo- A Look at Mixed Use Buildings and Sharing Knowledge

Build ChangeEngineering, Engineering explanations, Post-disaster Reconnaissance, EcuadorLeave a Comment

On May 3rd, we went with Gen. Ruiz and Ing. Flores into the barricaded area of Manta, the neighborhood of Tarqui.  This area had the most damage and was a mix of large to small commercial buildings and hotels, plus multi family and single family houses (some mixed use). Many of the small and medium sized buildings that had collapsed were already demolished and some were being taken down while we were there.   There were buildings with very different performance on the same block and the reason for the difference in performance was not obvious.  Additional investigation is needed … Read More

Day 2 (Part 2): Canoa and Jama- Analysis of Damaged Homes and Schools

Lizzie BlaisdellEngineering, Engineering explanations, Post-disaster Reconnaissance, EcuadorLeave a Comment

After Canoa, we next headed north to Jama, another coastal town.  In Jama we selected a street in town and compared the building type and performance of each, one-by-one.  There were 7 houses, some with commercial space below.  Six houses were wood framed, 2-stories, and one was reinforced concrete, 3-stories. Of the wood framed, 5 had masonry infill at the ground floor and 1 had bamboo lath with plaster overlay at the ground floor.  Four had wood only walls at the upper level while two had mixed wood and masonry infill walls at the upper level.  In general of the … Read More

Day 2: Canoa and Jama- A First Look at Damaged Schools

Lizzie BlaisdellEngineering, Engineering explanations, Post-disaster Reconnaissance, EcuadorLeave a Comment

This morning we met with Ing. Hermel Flores, owner of Hermel Flores Construcciones and former chair of the Ecuatorian Chamber of Construction, and General Florencio Ruiz Prado, Director of Citizen Security for Manta, in Manta.  We discussed our activities, the situation and the presentation they coordinated for us to give on Tuesday and Wednesday, in Manta and Portoviejo, respectively. Ing. Flores traveled with us next up north towards the epicenter.  The coast of Ecuador is in the highest seismic zone of the country.  There are RENAC sensors located up and down the coast which recoded the accelerations in the recent … Read More

Day 1: Guayaquil to Manta- A First Look at Damaged Houses

Lizzie BlaisdellEngineering, Engineering explanations, Post-disaster Reconnaissance, EcuadorLeave a Comment

May 1st was our first full day in Ecuador, after landing in Guayaquil on April 30.  Our team has three members: Traveling from our Bogota office there is Juan Caballero, architect and Director of Programs and Partnerships for Latin American, and Walter Cano, structural engineer and Project Engineer for Colombia.  From the U.S./headquarters there is Lizzie Blaisdell, structural engineer and Director of Engineering. In Guayaquil, we saw little evidence of an earthquake.  According to the preliminary report on the Instituto Geofisico website (http://www.igepn.edu.ec/) a strong motion sensor near Guayaquil, “AGYE” experienced a maximum ground acceleration of 23.04 cm/s2 (approx. 2%g) while … Read More

Saving Lives through Retrofitting in Colombia

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, retrofitting, ColombiaLeave a Comment

“We can build buildings to withstand earthquakes. The knowledge and technology are out there. We just have to make it accessible to everyone.” – Elizabeth Hausler Strand, Founder & CEO, Build Change In Colombia, we are working with city governments, the private sector, and homeowners to repair and strengthen homes before the next earthquake strikes. Retrofitting saves lives by ensuring that houses will protect families and children from future natural disasters. We started out retrofitting a single house in Bogotá, Colombia, to provide an opportunity for local training and to demonstrate feasibility. Jorge Prada’s family now lives in a safe house and he will help … Read More