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March 11, 2007 Guest - Elizabeth Hausler
Program:  The Foundations of Home

Most of the 26,000 deaths that resulted from the December 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran were caused by collapse of unreinforced masonry and mud brick homes. A follow-up study of the 2001 Bhuj, India, earthquake showed that less than 40 percent of the structures built by skilled masons during the height of reconstruction had any earthquake-resistant features. In India alone, 85 percent of houses are made of adobe or unreinforced masonry. Despite massive efforts by NGOs and funding agencies to train and permanently upgrade the skills of local masons, the prescribed earthquake-resistant building technologies are too expensive to be used after emergency funding ceases. As a result, new houses are just as likely to be as vulnerable as those that collapsed during the earthquake.
According to Elizabeth Hausler, methods of building low-cost quake-resistant houses using locally available materials and skills do exist. Build Change promotes and implements those methods in post-disaster reconstruction programs (e.g., Bam, Iran) as well as in new housing finance programs in India. The goal of Build Change is not only to build a new crop of earthquake-resistant houses that generate income for local builders, but also to change existing construction practices so that they endure without a continuous and unsustainable stream of technical input and funding. Starting in high school, Elizabeth spent her summers laying bricks for a masonry construction company. With a PhD in civil engineering from UC-Berkeley, she has studied the theory and application of earthquake-resistant design.
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