Build Change, a nonprofit based in the United States, is helping people in developing nations build earthquake and typhoon resistant buildings.
The nonprofit was founded by earthquake engineer Elizabeth Hausler in 2004. The issue of resistant housing in developing nations had been on her mind ever since the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, India. About 20,000 people were killed in this earthquake due to their unreinforced stone masonry housing collapsing.
This event made her realize the urgency of teaching safe construction methods to people living in developing nations that are at risk for natural disasters such as earthquakes. In an interview, Hausler said, “When earthquakes happen in the U.S. or Japan, very few people are killed. It costs a lot of money but there are very few deaths in earthquakes. But in developing countries thousands and thousands of people are still killed by earthquakes.”
In order to effectively introduce safer building alternatives to people in impoverished communities, Build Change takes a variety of approaches in the communities they hope to improve.
For example, it trains local builders, engineers, homeowners and government officials to build resistant houses and buildings. The organization makes sure the changes are simple and affordable for the community, yet effective. By introducing new construction methods that also involve new materials, Build Change creates more jobs in engineering, construction and materials production in the places they work.
Additionally, it works with governments to develop building code enforcement. It makes sure there are building inspectors within the society that ensure buildings are built according to the safety code.
The nonprofit also helps homeowners get access to the money they need to either strengthen their existing house or build it to be earthquake-resistant. They do this by by partnering with local governments to provide people access to microloans.
So far, Build Change has helped build 51,296 safer buildings, trained 27,857 people and created 12,303 jobs.
Thanks to Build Change, thousands of people living in earthquake and typhoon-prone areas can now sleep peacefully at night, knowing they are protected if a natural disaster strikes.
– Anna Gargiulo