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Earthquake Safe Housing


Earthquakes do not kill people, house collapses do. Hence the need to make rural houses earthquake-safe, i.e., that do not kill people. Incorporating EQ-safety features adds less than 10 per cent to the construction costs.

After each earthquake, PSI's teams study the architectural preferences of the local people, the materials and the skills that are locally available. Thereafter workshops are conducted to train local masons in EQ-safe construction techniques. Home owners are given an orientation on how a few special features can help non-engineered rural buildings to withstand earthquakes. PSI's engineers regularly monitor the actual building processes once the construction starts.

To orient people and masons, PSI has developed pamphlets and posters illustrating specific EQ-safety features, three – dimensional models, a trainers’ manual and a construction manual. All of them are well illustrated with minimal text to serve the needs of neo-literate people.

On the policy front, PSI has pushed for owner-driven construction programmes in which government and non-government agencies act as facilitators. PSI sees the reconstruction of permanent homes as a first step to the development of a community. For this it attempts to enhance the self-reliance of the affected people by building on traditional knowledge, upgrading local skills, using locally available materials, generating local employment and creating a local talent pool.  

So far PSI has trained over 750 masons, 450 engineers and helped people build over 1600 EQ-safe houses in various parts of the country.

"Of all NGOs' activities that have taken place after the relief effort I regard the training work done by PSI as the most meaningful one”

Pravin Pardeshi, District Collector, Latur

"These books are very useful to us. I am willing buy one of these books even though I cannot read. With the help of the drawings I can show others how to build safe houses."

Bhikubhai, Dwarka, Gujarat, talking about PSI's training manual.

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Developed by: People's Science Institute, Dehra Doon, Uttarakhand, India