Housner Fellows Group Project

With the dust now settled on the decision to undertake a project to produce a Toolkit for Earthquake‐Safe School Construction, the search is now on for a region to pilot the project. Each Fellow has selected a region to research for its suitability. As part of this research, Fellows are considering whether working in the region is feasible and whether it will be interesting for the Fellows.

Alongside the search for a suitable region, Fellows have also been trying to identify “champions” within each region with whom they can work. This has led to Fellows contacting organizations like Save the Children, Geo Hazards International and other experts to find out which regions they are working in and whether there are any projects that will be “a good fit” for what the Fellows have in mind. The process has brought up a number of issues. For instance, Fellows had to consider whether to expand the scope of the project to include other hazards but decided to focus on their area of expertise, earthquakes.

Regions being considered include Republic of Georgia, India, Colombia in South America, Pakistan and Ghana and preliminary investigations have revealed that:

  • School construction in the Republic of Georgia is mostly undertaken by government. Current new construction is minimal and there may be little appetite for retrofitting schools as a new government is in place that is looking to make cuts in expenditure.
  • In Ghana a few organizations like USAID, DFID have undertaken some school construction in the past using the standard designs for government schools. The possibility of using one of these organizations to put pressure on government to improve school seismic safety is to be investigated.
  • School construction in Pakistan is also by Government but there is some funding provided by organizations like the World Bank, UN-Habitat, UNDP, USAID and further investigations are being carried out to look for potential partners.
  • Colombia has well developed building codes and although they have difficulties implementing these in rural and un-recognized areas, other regions appear to have a greater need.
  • In India, research is narrowing in on Aizawl in Mizoram province where Geo Hazards International is due to begin a new project.

The selection of a region will help determine a building type or types that will be the focus of recommendations. It is the expectation that once developed, it should be possible to adapt the Tool kit for use in other regions.