When I Met Build Change / Noong Makilala Ko Si Build Change

A bilingual blog in English and Tagalog by Ritche Miñoza, Builder Trainer, Philippines When I was a young man I was already in the construction industry. When I got married, I had moved to Gui­uan, Eastern Samar, when an unexpected typhoon arrived, Typhoon Yolanda. After the typhoon many organizations gave aid, and one of those was Build Change. Noon pa man ay marunong na ako sa konstruksyon. Binata pa ako ay nasa konstruksyon na ang trabaho ako. Nang makapag-asawa ako ay lumipat ako sa Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Sa hindi inaasahang pagkakataon ay dumating ang isang napakalakas na bagyo, iyon na nga ang Bagyong Yolanda. Matapos ang bagyo ay marami ang nagabot ng tulong sa Pilipinas at isa na doon ang Build Change. Together with TESDA (the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), Build Change looked at the situation and condition … Read More

My Experience Designing Assessment Tools in Partnership with the German & Philippine Red Cross

By: Samantha Lisay, Architect and Designer, Build Change-Philippines One of my first projects with Build Change was to design forecast-based financing resources for the German and Philippine Red Cross. The aim of forecast-based financing is to use science or forecast models to identify where to give aid even before a disaster strikes. This specific project focused on lessening the damage to vulnerable housing caused by typhoons by temporarily strengthening them 2-3 days before the forecasted storm. Build Change was tasked with coming up with resources such as an assessment form, shelter strengthening guide, and a post-disaster assessment form to make this rapid strengthening response possible. Designing Material Resources As Build Change’s resident designer, I quickly jumped into creating these materials, only to realize that this was not an ordinary design challenge. When designing the assessment form, we took into consideration … Read More

Everyone Asks: How About Sustainability?

By: Marv Riego – Program Officer, Build Change-Philippines We are in a constant search for sustainability. Every day, we think of innovative ways we can make our programs sustainable, decreasing communities’ dependence on the help we provide, enabling them to run the programs even after we leave. The question is HOW? Here at Build Change-Philippines, sustainability is one of our key considerations when delivering programs. We ensure we design, develop, and implement programs that deliver permanent change and enable communities to follow safe construction practices, all by themselves. Our “Steps to Sustainability” are: DESIGN and DEVELOP sustainable materials; COMMUNICATE materials to partners; FIELD TEST the materials with the community and implementing partners; and, TRAIN the trainers. The needs of our communities are constantly changing. Build Change deliberately DESIGNS and DEVELOPS sustainable materials so that we ensure our programs are adaptable ... Read More

Challenges to Disaster-Resilient Housing in the Philippines

Roel Ombao – Project Engineer, Build Change I joined Build Change- Philippines in mid-2018, because the program caught my attention. I am interested in working to support low income families so they can have homes that are resilient to earthquakes and typhoons, events which are not new to every Filipino. I have done several post-disaster reconnaissance surveys after earthquakes and typhoons and it breaks my heart to see houses collapsed and hear the stories of someone passing away after being crushed by a collapsed wall. After working for almost two years now with Build Change, I have come to realize that disaster resilient housing is a complex issue with many challenges, a few of which I will highlight here: First, Money or Access to Financing: Low income families are not catered to by most commercial banks and lending institutions. Most … Read More

Sometime in Nepal

By Elizabeth Rees Earthquakes destroy homes and livelihoods. Nepal lies in one of the most seismically active regions in the world and has a long history of earthquakes. Globally Nepal ranks number eleven in vulnerability to earthquakes. In April 2015, the 7.8 magnitude Gorkha earthquake, which was followed by the 7.3 magnitude earthquake of Dolakha, led to over 90,000 casualties, affecting one-third of the Nepalese population. There was extensive damage to both public and private buildings. In total, approximately half a million houses were destroyed and more than 250,000 houses partially damaged, resulting in thousands of families living in temporary accommodation that was both inadequate and unsafe.  The necessary skills for building safe earthquake-resistant housing were not in place. It was not until December 2015 that the central government appointed the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) to lead the post-earthquake reconstruction ... Read More

Delivering Value in Resilient Housing

Visiting households for shelter repair following Typhoon Ompong in Buguias, Benguet Province, Philippines. By Kim Acupan, Project Manager, Build Change Philippines As I was going through my MBA in 2017, I was certain that I wanted to focus on non-profit housing projects. And what better way to marry my civil engineering and business backgrounds than to work with an innovative, non-profit social enterprise that has the mission to save lives in earthquakes and typhoons in emerging nations, including in the Philippines! I started my Build Change journey as an intern in 2017 and joined full-time 18 months later. I must admit that there was a lot of adjusting and learning that happened and are still happening, given that this is my first time in the non-profit, disaster risk reduction/development sector. Organizational principles may be the same but terminologies and especially ... Read More

Bridging the Gap: Tech to Non-Tech

By: Marvin Riego – Social Marketing Associate, Build Change-Philippines ‘Retrofitting’, ‘Gable Wall’, ‘Trusses’, and ‘Splicing’ are just some of the words that did not make sense to me before I joined Build Change. I wasn’t even aware that the Philippines ranked as the 3rd most disaster-prone country in the world! I just knew that we got geographically lucky, securing spots on both the Pacific Ring of Fire and the Pacific Typhoon Belt. It was when I did my first community immersion that things started to get clearer. We advocate for safer houses and schools and to do that we have to RETROFIT. To retrofit means "to furnish with new or modified parts or equipment not available or considered necessary at the time of manufacture." Taking this definition into a disaster resilience and preparedness context, it means adding different parts of ... Read More

Enough is Enough

The unconscionable death of George Floyd requires we all take action.   Safety is at the heart of what we do in the resilient housing movement.  Here at Build Change, we believe in the fundamental right of people everywhere to live safe lives, regardless of the color of their skin. That safety starts at home—but we must acknowledge that even home is not a safe place for the many black Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of police.     Breonna Taylor was killed in bed.  So was Dominique Clayton. Botham Jean was eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream in his living room.  And Atatiana Jefferson was babysitting her nephew. As an organization headquartered in Denver, Colorado we cannot remain silent while we watch our fellow citizens of color live in daily fear for their lives, even ... Read More

I Survived a Typhoon; Now I Train Builders on Disaster-Resilient Housing to Protect Other Families from the Same Thing/ Nakaligtas ako sa Bagyo; Ngayon, tinututruan ko ang mga Builders ng tungkol sa Disaster-Resilient Housing para maprotektahan ang iba pang mga pamilya mula dito

A bilingual blog in English and Tagalog by Raquel “Rocky” Lagramada, Senior Builder Trainer, Build Change Philippines   In November 2013, a super typhoon struck the Philippines. Locally named ‘Bagyong Yolanda’ and internationally called Typhoon Haiyan, it struck Eastern Samar in Leyte. One of the places that was hit was my birthplace in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. It is one of the moments in my life that I will never forget./ Noong November 2013, isang super typhoon ang humagupit sa Pilipinas. Pinangalanan itong “Bagyon Yolanda” dito sa Pilipinas at tinawag naman itong “Typhoon Haiyan” ng buong mundo. Ito ay nanalasa sa silanganang bahagi ng Samar, Leyte at isa sa mga lugar na tinamaan nito ay ang aking lupang sinilangan, ang Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Isa ito sa mga sandaling hindi ko malilimutan sa buong buhay ko.   Before we evacuated to my uncle’s ... Read More

Home Safe Home

How Different Families Stay at Home During a Pandemic By: Samantha Lisay, Architect and Designer, Build Change Philippines It was March 12th, 2020 that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Three days later, on March 15th, the whole of Metro Manila was placed in community quarantine, which basically means we have to stay home to be safe from the virus. Many people that live part-time in Manila for work went home to their provinces to spend the quarantine with their families. It has now been sixty days since the announcement of the quarantine. I am with my family, in a two-bedroom, two-story row house inside a subdivision. Compared to most, I consider myself and my family lucky. Not one of the luckiest, but lucky indeed. Looking through social media, I’ve noticed that different people and families have ... Read More

How to Recover from a Pandemic: Lessons from Build Change’s Experience in International Disaster Response

A home built by Build Change in Banda Aceh, Indonesia as a part of the recovery from the Boxing Day tsunami.   Special Note: Echoing Green interviewed Dr. Elizabeth Hausler in January 2005 to talk about the impact of the Boxing Day (December 26th, 2004) tsunami on communities surrounding the Indian Ocean. Earlier this year, that disaster commemorated its 15th Anniversary, but the lessons learned in the aftermath of that tragedy are surprisingly timely to the global Coronavirus pandemic.  We’re resharing a section of Elizabeth’s interview because it’s a step-by-step prediction of what the global recovery from Coronavirus could look like.   Introduction from Dr. Elizabeth Hausler:  What a unique moment we’re in. This is perhaps the first time (in the social-media era, at least) that the world has suffered a GLOBAL disaster of this scale at the same time.  It’s important … Read More

150,000 People in Better Housing: Nepal 5 Years On

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

Resilient Housing in the Philippines, in the Era of COVID-19

By: Jessica Stanford, Country Director-Philippines The COVID-19 pandemic is without doubt an unprecedented event, impacting lives, communities and economies around the world. As governments and nations work together to implement prevention, containment and mitigation measures, families from California to metro Manila are instructed to #stayhome, #shelterinplace to help curb the worst of this public health crisis. But what if you’re one of the 1.2 billion people who live in substandard housing today? What if you’re a low-income household that depends on daily wage income now threatened by changing dynamics? How will this impact your capacity to shelter, safely in your home? The World Bank estimates that three billion people will live in substandard housing by 2030. In the Philippines alone, 70 million people live in substandard housing, and this is projected to grow to 113 million people by 2030. Housing … Read More

Safety Starts at Home: An Update from Build Change Regarding COVID-19

Dear Friends of Build Change, With millions in self-isolation or quarantined around the globe, homes are the front line in the battle against COVID-19. More than perhaps ever before, our homes are the center of our lives, and our retreats (forced or not) from an uncertain world.  My hope is that wherever your home is, it is a place where you feel safe riding out this disaster.  I know that I am increasingly grateful every day for a safe home, for a yard my son can play in, for our health, and for a grocery store where I can still buy food (if not toilet paper). But I am also reminded of the many people worldwide for whom self-isolation is even more daunting than it is in many parts of the United States, because of unsafe construction.  If you don’t … Read More

Designing the Future: An Interview with the Nepal Architecture Interns

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

Build Change and Simpson Strong-Tie Announce New Excellence in Engineering Fellow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contacts: Michelle Nicholson                                 Shelby Lentz +1-812-369-5037                                  +1-925-560-9068 [email protected]                 [email protected] International Nonprofit Social Enterprise Build Change and Global Structural Solutions Leader Simpson Strong-Tie Renew Joint Fellowship for Engineering Excellence and Introduce 2019-2020 Fellow Denver, Dec. 19, 2019- Build Change and Simpson Strong-Tie are excited to introduce the recipient of the 2019-2020 Excellence in Engineering Fellowship: Tim Hart. This is the third year of the Fellowship, resulting from the continuation of a successful partnership between international nonprofit social enterprise Build Change and global structural solutions leader Simpson Strong-Tie. Complementing the Simpson Strong-Tie goal to design solutions for making structures safer ... Read More

A Study into the Participation of Females in On-the-Job Training Delivered by Build Change and UNOPS

By Marie Meenan In "A Study into the Participation of Females in On-the-Job Training Delivered by Build Change and UNOPS”, Meenan examines the factors which promote and inhibit female participation in masonry construction in Nepal. In response to the 2015 Ghorka earthquakes, Build Change and UNOPS implemented two programs to help rebuild safer homes: 1) the Vulnerable Family Assistance and Targeting (VFAST) program in Dolakha district, 2) and the Social-Technical Facilitation and Consultation (STFC) program in Nuwakot district. Both programs take a homeowner driven approach to earthquake reconstruction, focusing on engaging the entire community and raising awareness of earthquake related risks. Both programs pay particular attention to the vulnerable members of the communities —women, children, people with disabilities and those who are socially marginalized. As part of these programs, UNOPS and Build Change provide On-the-Job Training (OJT) events to teach ... Read More

A Photo Diary of My 5 Months with Build Change in Nepal

By Marie Meenan Above the Clouds During my First Field Visit to Syangja   I was initiated into Nepal with a field visit to the Syangja district to witness the work that Build Change are conducting. There I was blown away by the breathtaking views. Each site boasted a unique scenery, every new location as stunning as the last. Trees cascaded down the mountains, the sun pierced the clouds and rhododendrons dotted the paths. We arrived at one site above the clouds and left after they dispersed, revealing the impressive valley below. I was in awe of the sights that the owners of these homes witness every day. The views, however, weren’t the only thing that fascinated me. At each site, I was intrigued by the large number of female masonry trainees. Having studied mechanical engineering, I am starkly aware ... Read More

Build Change CEO Delivers Vision of Housing Resilience at TED Conference

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

A Tour of Kirtipur – Callum Higgins 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.