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< prev - next > Disaster response mitigation and rebuilding Reconstruction PCR Tool 10 Quality Control (Printable PDF)
Women making concrete girders for a housing project in
Madaripur, Bangladesh
It is important for the engineers and architects
involved in reconstruction to inspect the damage
done by a disaster, together with local builders
and residents (see PCR Tool 3: Learning from
Disasters). This may highlight why particular
buildings failed. If poor materials or components
are suspected as a cause, these should not be used
for reconstruction until a further investigation is
carried out and steps taken to improve their quality.
Where production has been to a poor standard,
consider providing additional training to materials
producers. In addition, the quality of materials
produced needs to be closely monitored for at least
half a year following training, and further spot
checks taken after that. Any sub-standard batches
must be discarded. If particular producers continue
to regularly produce materials or components of
poor quality, they need to be de-listed as suppliers.
This approach is often the most suitable to
stimulate the re-building of local livelihoods and
An alternative approach to addressing poor
production standards is to identify a selection of
Testing of the quality of bricks for a reconstruction programme
for IDPs in the Vavunya area of Sri Lanka
producers known to provide adequate quality and
utilise only their products. Such producers could
be selected by a project team, together with local
builders and residents. Reconstruction, however,
usually requires large quantities of materials, and
in this case, this may mean that some producers
may have to be selected that are much further
away, or even abroad, with a less positive impact on
the local economy.
Residents and local builders will often have
to purchase materials or components that are not
locally produced, from shops in their area. It is
therefore important that such building merchants
or hardware shops are also made aware of the
importance of quality of materials or components in
a reconstruction programme. Ultimately, a project
team could select or de-select such local shops
in a similar way as it would with local materials
producers, and only allow purchases to be made
from the ones that qualify.
A project team can only do so much to
guarantee the quality of materials produced or
supplied locally. Although it is ultimately the
decision of residents and their local builders as
to how to build their houses, it is important to
raise awareness of the need to use good quality
materials. The damage assessment after a disaster
can help raise awareness, as it can open the eyes of
those participating to what is good or bad practice
and quality. In addition, a project team can provide
some training on how to check the quality of
local components and materials in simple ways.
For example using visual means (is sand clean
and sharp? Is timber straight?), touch (does the
cement have any lumps?) or sound (do two fired
bricks, when knocked against each other, make
a clear ringing sound?). It is beyond the scope of
this Tool to list such simple tests for the many
materials that could be used in reconstruction
worldwide. The information required for that can
usually be distilled from standards or textbooks,
but it will need to be translated into a format
that is appropriate to local users (see PCR Tool 9:
Communicating better building).
Ensure that construction is of adequate
Poor quality of construction is another major factor
contributing to collapse and damage of buildings in
natural hazards. Similar to the materials, a damage
assessment will often point out what is good and
bad practice in construction. A reconstruction
programme should, where possible, accommodate
good local practice. Any technologies that
performed badly in a disaster should be avoided in
reconstruction, as should those building practices
that contributed to collapse., However, it will be
possible to improve on some through awareness
raising and training, or some form of reinforcement,