Going the Extra Mile, to Rebuild Nepal…

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

International Women in Engineering Day 2018 To live far away from home, in a different community and culture, and contribute towards a nation’s rebuilding after a disaster requires courage, character and determination for any young person. In Nepal’s traditionally patriarchal society, it can be especially challenging for young women to seize such opportunities. On top of this, success becomes even more challenging within an industry such as engineering which is still perceived in many countries as a “man’s profession.” After Nepal was struck by the disastrous earthquakes in 2015 however, many Nepali women engineers have come to the forefront of … Read More

The Happy Face of Retrofitting – Corina Sutter in Nepal

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Corina Sutter is Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at RMS, and is based in London. She joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Corina’s account of her time in Nepal. When you think about strengthening a building to make it more resilient to seismic events, does “retrofitting” come top of mind? And if you have heard of retrofitting, do you know why it is more cost-effective and in many instances more suitable than simply rebuilding? This awareness challenge is what Build Change faces in Nepal; with regards to retrofitting … Read More

Using Catastrophe Models to Promote Resilience

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Tom is a Senior Product Manager in the Model Product Management team, focusing on the North Atlantic Hurricane Model suite of products. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Tom’s account of his time in Nepal. Arriving in Kathmandu for the 2018 RMS Impact Trek, I was already aware of the many years that RMS has provided support for Build Change and its work in areas worst hit by catastrophic disasters. Our first day in the Build Change office was a crash course in their … Read More

An Unexpected Opportunity: Presenting at the Fifteenth National Convention of Engineers in Nepal

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Jochen Woessner is a lead modeler in earthquake model development at RMS, and is based in Zurich. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Jochen’s account of his time in Nepal. “I am sorry, you have only five minutes, please focus on the conclusion of your work,” said the convener G. Pokharel to Liva Shrestha, the local lead structural engineer for Build Change and myself when we sat down on the panel chairs of the session entitled “Disaster Risk Management and Prevention”. This session was on day three … Read More

A Tour of Kirtipur – Callum Higgins in Nepal

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

Callum Higgins is senior product analyst at RMS, and is based in London. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Callum’s account of his time in Nepal. On the first day of the Impact Trek, we were based at Build Change’s office in Kathmandu, hearing about the various projects the charity is working on in Nepal from Jessica Stanford (Housing Reconstruction Program Manager), as well as the technological innovations Build Change is using to increase the efficiency of their work from Adam McDonald (New Frontier Technology … Read More

Reducing Disaster Risk in Paradise: Engineering Excellence Fellow in the Philippines

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, Philippines, Better Building Materials, Concrete Blocks, Simpson Strong-Tie, travelLeave a Comment

Since March 2018, I have been working with the Build Change Philippines team in Metro Manila. The island country is absolutely breathtaking, and the team here is incredible! The Technical Projects In early April, I conducted a presentation for the Philippines team on my previous experience with Build Change, as well as my experience with retrofit programs in emerging countries outside of the organization. The team of engineers in the Philippines is well-versed in retrofitting techniques as well, as that is the primary focus of the team at the moment. I have also spent some time reviewing and making comments … Read More

Rural Retrofitting in Nepal – Christopher Allen’s 2018 RMS Impact Trek

Build ChangeUncategorized, family story, Engineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Christopher Allen is a senior analyst – model development, working with the Event Response team at RMS, and is based in London. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Chris’s account of his time in Nepal. On Wednesday, March 21, eight somewhat-still-jetlagged RMS Impact Trekkers left the Summit Hotel in Kathmandu bound for the village of Dhunkharka, three hours’ drive southeast of the capital. We were going to see some of the retrofitting work that was being done by Build Change, a social enterprise partner of RMS … Read More

Peter Cormier – 2018 RMS Impact Trek in Nepal

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Pete Cormier is a lead cat analyst for Liberty Mutual, and joined employees from RMS on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Pete’s account of his time in Nepal.  In March 2018, I spent 10 days with a team in Nepal at the invitation of RMS to volunteer with Build Change, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which is helping the rebuilding efforts following the April 2015 earthquake. The massive Mw7.8 earthquake caused approximately 9,000 deaths, 22,000 injuries and damaged more than one million homes, schools, and businesses at a cost of US$10 billion, which is about … Read More

Lusi Huang’s Nepal Impact Trek Diary

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Lusi Huang is a Risk Engineer for Chubb North America and joined employees from RMS on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Lusi’s trek diary. Day 1: Sunday, March 18 One of the first things that strikes me when arriving in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is that the traffic is just like a bowl of spaghetti, a true jumble — there’s no traffic lights, no center line, all uneven road surfaces. Life in Kathmandu means that you just need to be patient. Another initial observation, solar power is big here, surprisingly there are … Read More

Press for Progress: Female Architects as Creative Drivers of Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Nepal

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

“Press for Progress” is our motto this month as we celebrate Women’s History Month. Women have always been a driving force behind human progress, and this month we celebrate their contributions to the world. With their exceptional abilities to create, design, and transform, women are already at the forefront in the field of architecture. In Nepal, as elsewhere in the world, more and more women are entering this field. Moreover, they have been using their architectural skills to design earthquake-resistant houses after the devastating earthquakes of April 2015, and in the process have become creative leaders and drivers of safe … Read More

Simpson Strong-Tie Fellowship Update: Bogotá & Medellín, Colombia

Build ChangeColombia, Simpson Strong-Tie, travelLeave a Comment

Contributed by Dr. James Mwangi, Simpson Strong-Tie Fellow 2017-18 In October, I spent a few weeks at home in California with my family. Build Change’s annual event was also held during my time there, so I was able to meet the entire management team! While in California, I spent time getting familiar with building designs Build Change uses in Colombia, in preparation for my next assignment. I was able to review the Colombia Building Design Codes (referred to by their official name NSR-10), and the Build Change Evaluation and Retrofit Manual. I was also able to Skype with the team … Read More

Simpson Strong-Tie Fellow Update: Adventures into Safer Building in Indonesia

Build ChangeUncategorized, NGO Partners - Indonesia, Engineering, Engineering explanations, retrofitting, Indonesia, Bricks, Simpson Strong-Tie, travelLeave a Comment

by Dr. James Mwangi, Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow 2017-18 Arriving on the other side of the Pacific The journey to Padang, Indonesia started on August 3rd, 2017 in San Francisco, California with connections in Manila, Philippines and Jakarta, Indonesia. I arrived exhausted but excited in Padang on August 5th after almost 24 hours in the air. Padang is the provincial capital of West Sumatra and lies just south of the equator. The high temperatures are usually in the low 80’s, with lows hovering around the mid-70’s (Fahrenheit). I arrived in what is said to be “dry season” (May-September), although … 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

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