Dear Friends of Build Change, Five years ago, in the wake of a massive 7.8 earthquake that instantly destroyed more than a million homes in Nepal, Build Change began its most ambitious post-disaster program to date. Nepal today is a country with better, stronger, safer housing, achieved through Build Change’s powerful combination of resilient building, national housing policy change, and pioneering technologies designed to empower homeowners to rebuild better. Thanks to Build Change and its partners, more than 150,000 people are living in over 24,000 newly constructed or structurally strengthened houses. Through “Build Back Safe” community engagement—forum theater, awareness flyers, and a retrofit awareness movie— Build Change has reached at least 378,000 people across all 32 earthquake-impacted districts. More than 52,350 homeowners seeking advice on how to rebuild have visited the network of Technical Support Centers operated by Build Change and … Read More
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 reconstruction, significantly helping homeowners in rebuilding their houses and strengthening their affected communities.
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 not everyone is aware or convinced — yet. Thanks to RMS and their partnership with Build Change, I had the fantastic opportunity to spend a few days with their team in Nepal to learn more about their local initiatives. Prior … Read More
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 local objectives and challenges. Day Two saw us on a field trip to nearby Kirtipur to survey common building practices. It was a lot of information to process and it was not immediately clear to me what “impact” we could make during … Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 reconstruction around the country. So how are women architects contributing to reconstruction efforts in Nepal? What inspired and motivated them to be a part of the rebuilding process? What challenges have they faced and what are they learning on the … Read More
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, work and go to school in. I grew up in Kenya and went through my basic education and my undergraduate coursework in civil engineering there. I worked for the government of Kenya as a junior roads engineer before proceeding to … Read More
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 to information and trained professionals to help rebuild their houses and schools? Technology is changing the way people can access these resources, and women are emerging as leaders in this field as well. Khusbhu Gupta is a Computer Engineer and … Read More
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 made safer from future earthquakes if these 500,000 homeowners are aware of and choose the option to retrofit. Not only would millions of people be safer, but in the process an estimated 30 megatons of construction materials and 1 billion … Read More
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 learn about something new, experience a new part of the world and talk with people whose passion and commitment to the work they do might just inspire us to try and contribute however we can and perhaps challenge our own … Read More
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 the engineering sector being comprised of women). In Nepal, we have 16 highly qualified, dedicated engineers leading reconstruction efforts, working on anything from handling field operations to quality control and implementation. The best part? All of our female engineers in … Read More
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 the other blogs. If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, what does that make writing about architecture? Um, tedious? Some of the trekkers were (somehow, unbelievably) lulled to sleep by the violent rocking of the vehicles that transported us … Read More
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 Build Change was rather simplistic. Typically in the relief efforts following a natural disaster, international agencies respond by reconstructing buildings and critical infrastructure which has been destroyed in a catastrophic event. What often happens in these situations however is that … Read More
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, but there is the occasional glimpse of where a wall once stood traced out on the ground. Now, the temporary structures that people are living in are made of corrugated metal or wood and are dispersed more widely. It’s hard … Read More
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 door to retrofitting being used at scale by homeowners across the earthquake affected areas to seismically strengthen their earthquake damaged houses. This is a turning point in the history of Nepal’s reconstruction, as for the first time, a clearly defined … Read More
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