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Humanitarian Outreach + Design Technology = Saved Lives

20 Apr, 2017 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

In Nepal and around the globe, Build Change is teaching locals how to recover from natural disaster — and how to survive the next one.


 

Getting the Word Out

For a program that aids populations in remote towns and villages, communication doesn't come easy. To convey information to homeowners, Build Change turned to community theater, a Nepalese tradition that draws large and enthusiastic audiences. The organization worked with a local theater troupe to raise awareness about the dangers of substandard buildings in risk-prone areas; teach basic safe construction techniques; communicate the importance of retrofitting; and explain how to retrofit and choose proper building materials. Build Change estimates it has reached more than 32,000 people through these performances.

On the other end of the communications spectrum, a smartphone app helps communicate information and answer questions among government officials, Build Change staff, builders, and locals.

 

A Build Change representative shares information about brickmaking with homeowners gathered at a local venue. (Source: Build Change)
A Build Change representative shares information about brickmaking with homeowners gathered at a local venue. (Source: Build Change)

 

An in-depth study, completed within a year of the earthquake, detailed the needs and priorities of impacted rural homeowners. Based on the results, Build Change developed a flyer to explain how to demolish houses safely and clarify which materials can and cannot be safely reused. Humanitarian organizations distributed 32,000 copies in the region.

 

Build Change workers are on the ground in Nepal to understand the needs of local homeowners in addition to helping them rebuild after the 2015 earthquake. (Source: Build Change)
Build Change workers are on the ground in Nepal to understand the needs of local homeowners in addition to helping them rebuild after the 2015 earthquake. (Source: Build Change)

 

Technology Is Key

Whether it's cement or software, at the core of the Build Change approach is the availability of the right technology. Without it, the barriers to success are too high.

Engineers in Nepal used drones to efficiently survey expanses of terrain, collecting high-resolution photographs to identify areas where new homes could be built and to help develop maps to share with local communities.

 

Residents of Bhimtar village greet a drone as it captures high-resolution images of the region. (Source: Build Change)
Residents of Bhimtar village greet a drone as it captures high-resolution images of the region. (Source: Build Change)

 

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