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< prev - next > Construction Building design KnO 100110_Earthquake Resistant Housing (Printable PDF)
Adopting the sophisticated building regulations of the developed world in poor countries has
done little to prevent poor people's housing from collapsing in earthquakes. There are many
ways of making stone and adobe buildings better able to resist earthquakes which are within
the reach of people on low incomes.
Earthquakes cause a lot of
casualties and damage. In the
twentieth century alone, they
have accounted for around 1.5
million casualties, 90 per cent
of which occurred in housing
for people with a low income.
The economic losses have been
staggering as well: they may
have exceeded one trillion US
The particular vulnerability of
poor people's housing is caused
by a number of factors, of
which the most important are: Figure 1 - Typical domestic tapial dwelling destroyed by
earthquake (Megan Lloyd-Laney)
Poverty, which prevents
the use of better
materials or skills. It
also makes people
extend and improve
their houses in stages,
and in the case of a
house that has got off
to a bad start it is often
hard to improve its
earthquake resistance.
A lack of political
power, which stops
people building on
more secure sites or
Figure 2 Earthquake resistant quincha house (Theo
gaining assistance.
Scarcity of both
appropriate materials and skills for earthquake-resistant construction.
A lack of disaster consciousness in situations where daily survival is a major problem,
and where, for example, the removal of subsidies on food is a much greater disaster for
poor people than the eventual earthquake.
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