Millions of people in developing countries live with the constant threat of death or injury from earthquakes. In the past five years, over 4 million were made homeless by earthquakes, over 99% of them in developing countries. In the developed world, we have the knowledge and technology to build disaster-resistant structures. But in the developing world, that knowledge and technology is beyond the reach of the average person.
Housing collapses during earthquakes have devastating consequences for families, causing death, permanent disability, economic and asset loss, trauma, homelessness, and a lack of security. For the most part, houses that collapsed were poorly built and loss of property and life could have been avoided. By providing large-scale training and technical assistance in “safe” building practices for builders, homeowners and construction professionals, and working with building material producers to improve the quality of their materials, Build Change is preventing future fatalities and losses during earthquakes and other natural disasters. To date, we have trained over 6,000 Builders and Engineers worldwide, enabling over 73,000 people to live in safer houses. Moreover, these improved building skills will lead to more and better-paying jobs, while a “safe” permanent house will add to a family’s asset base.
Build Change’s program trains everyone in the government, NGO and private sector construction value chain – builders, engineers, architects, site supervisors, as well vocational students and their teachers — in safe building practices. We work with local building suppliers to improve the quality of their building materials, and with governments to set and enforce building standards. At the center of Build Change’s building back better are the homeowners, often women, whom we train and provide technical assistance so they can supervise the construction of their own homes and know they are safe to live in.
Build Change leaves in place permanent change in construction practice by building local skills and stimulating local demand. When everyone in the building chain, including students, is trained in safe building practices, the change is sustained. Local demand is best achieved by developing and promoting building methods that are competitive in cost, easy to implement, use local, readily available materials, and accepted by the local population.