The April 2015 Nepal Earthquake: why buildings collapse, and how to prevent it
Since the Nepal earthquake in April, Build Change has been studying why buildings collapse, and how people would like their houses to be rebuilt. Most Nepalese buildings are made with unreinforced masonry and are prone to collapse during earthquakes. Buildings made with reinforced concrete frames mounted on strong foundations are able to withstand landslides and earthquake shocks, and suffer much less damage.
Building Codes and guidelines exist but are widely ignored
After a 1988 earthquake in Nepal, the government published a Nepal National Building Code and guidelines for earthquake-resistant construction. Unfortunately, these guidelines are rarely used in practice, or enforced in any practical manner. Many houses are simply built by untrained local people.
Working with government is a constant process of creating relationships
Earthquakes don’t kill people: badly-built buildings do. Lives can be saved if buildings are constructed, or retrofitted with earthquake-proofing, according to reliable codes and guidelines, but this tends to make construction more costly or difficult. Safer buildings will only be made if the codes are enforced, and we build relationships with local and national governments to try to bring this about, but officials change, governments change, and we have to start all over again. It’s a constant process, but we think it’s worth it. It takes a lot of travel, so many thanks to ANA BLUE WING!
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