Disaster Management through Improved Housing Safety
The collapse of houses and buildings is the single largest cause of human casualties and economic losses resulting from earthquakes. In earthquake prone regions in the world, earthquake resistant building regulations are widely used to ensure safety of buildings. However, there are many masonry buildings with structural deficiencies in a number of developing countries situated in earthquake prone areas, exposing millions of people under constant risk of life and property losses when a powerful earthquake strikes these countries.
Although there are a number of reasons that explain the ineffective implementation of building safety regulations depending on various country contexts, the shortage in capacity of government officials to enforce the regulations is a major issue facing many developing countries.
Housing Earthquake Safety Initiative
United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) has launched a new project titled the "Housing Earthquake Safety Initiative (HESI)" in January 2007 in order to improve the structural safety of houses and other residential buildings through effective implementation of building safety regulations.
- To raise awareness on the importance of implementing building safety regulations effectively to reduce risk of life and propety losses in the event of an earthquake;
- To develop policy recommendations on improving the safety of houses, particularly that of traditional houses;
- To enhance capacity of national and local government officials to implement building safety regulations; and
- To disseminate lessons learnt from the project nationwide in the project countries and beyond through dissemination materials and local and international workshops.
Project Target Countries
Algeria, Indonesia, Nepal and Peru
1. System Evaluation
The project collects information on and evaluate the system of implementation and dissemination of building safety regulations in over 30 countries through a survey to identify the causes for ineffective implementation of building regulations. Issues surrounding the implementation as well as the regulations themselves are analyzed.
2. Awareness Raising
Workshops are convened to raise awareness among stakeholders on the need to improve the implementation of building safety regulations nationwide in each target country. The aim is to develop common understanding among officials from national government and code implementing local governments, technicians, engineers and house owners.
3. Policy Development
The project develops policy recommendations, including easy-to-understand and locally adoptable building guidelines for traditional houses, to improve housing safety in the target countries.
4. Capacity Development
Several national and local workshops and training programs are held involving stakeholders of housing safety. Several educational materials for capacity development and community empowerment are also distributed. Results of the project are distributed through diverse channels in the target countries and beyond.
- National governments of Algeria, Indonesia, Nepal and Peru,
- Local governments of Algiers, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Lima,
- University professors from Japan, India, USA and the target countries,
- NGOs and communities,
- Building research institutes etc.
Survey on Building Code
In 2006, UNCRD sent a questionnaire to countries across the world to collect information on history of disaster experiences and situations of building safety regulations in those countries. Subsequently, a report was prepared based on 20 responses.
Please refer to the Publications by Disaster Management Planning Unit from here.