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
Architectural Interns with their supervisors at the Build Change Kathmandu Office. Left to Right, Front to Back. Aastha Sigdel, Ayusha Joshi (Design Support Team Leader- New Construction), Sandesh Devkota, Salina Pradhan (Technical Liaison Coordinator), Astha Panta, Suresh Twanbasa, Dikshya Pokhrel. Over the past year, Build Change, in partnership with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) provided placements to five architectural interns from Tribhuvan University. The five students gained invaluable experience while assisting Build Change and UNOPS with their work in Nepal. The Architectural department at Tribhuvan University requires students who are in their third year to undergo an intern placement for a minimum of 90 days, with the potential to extend depending on the needs of both Build Change and UNOPS, and the availability of the students. A marking schedule was provided by the university and the marks … Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 25 — Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, Founder and CEO of Build Change, delivered an impassioned TED Talk to the organization’s “We the Future” conference in New York, joining thousands of other social entrepreneurs and activists in calling for a renewed commitment to building housing resilience and battling poverty in the developing world. The marquis event at the TED World Theater in Manhattan celebrated the 73rd annual opening session of the United Nations General Assembly. “It’s time we treat unsafe housing as the global epidemic that it is,” Hausler said. “It’s time to strengthen every building just like we would vaccinate every child in a public health emergency.” Around the world, natural disasters destroy thousands of lives and erase decades of economic gains each year. These outcomes are undeniably devastating and completely preventable, Dr. Hausler said, and substandard housing … Read More
Competition breeds creativity! The XPRIZE Foundation’s famed “SpaceX” challenge underscores the power of competition to encourage innovation.
World Bank and Build Change Introduce New Global Effort to Prioritize Structural Integrity and Retrofit Substandard Housing in Disaster-Prone Regions WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 3 – Build Change and the World Bank on Wednesday launched a major new initiative aimed at improving the safety and structural integrity of millions of homes in the developing world, many of them built with haphazard materials and informal methods that leave them particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events, earthquakes and other disasters. “It’s time that we look at resilient housing as a public health emergency,” said Build Change CEO Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, who was among those who addressed an audience of global housing experts gathered to celebrate the launch at World Bank headquarters. “This is easy, and it’s cost effective. We know why these buildings collapse in earthquakes, we know how to retrofit them.”
Dr. Elizabeth Hausler Highlights Build Change’s Experience Working with Governments on Three Continents to Build Safe, Sustainable Housing Build Change CEO Dr. Elizabeth Hausler joined an esteemed group of social entrepreneurs, policymakers and donors in a panel discussion to explore how best to harness the power of partnerships between nonprofits and government agencies. The Sept. 26 event marked the launch of the new Scaling Pathways initiative, a partnership of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Skoll Foundation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Mercy Corps and Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). Scaling Pathways published a new report, “Leveraging Government Partnerships for Scaled Impact,” as part of the event.
Autodesk’s Latin America Marketing Program Manager, Juan M Martinez, Senior Data Scientist, Patty Svenson, and Forge Product Manager, Philippe Videau went to Colombia as part of a pro bono project to support Build Change, an Autodesk Foundation grantee, as they set out to retrofit homes in earthquake prone cities. Juan is originally from Bogota, but Patty and Philippe had never been, so why did they go?
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.
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!
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.
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 the high humidity and rain do not coincide with my experience of dry seasons elsewhere. I imagine the wet season (October ‐ April) is like living in a swimming pool. Padang’s old town lies in the low land, designated a … 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
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 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
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 once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit Nepal and to see the Himalayas, which had been a dream of mine for years) was to witness firsthand how local people were being empowered by Build Change to reconstruct their communities. As someone with both … Read More
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