Understanding the opportunities and challenges of compliance to safe building codes for disaster resilience in South Asia – the cases of Bangladesh and Nepal.
Supported by a Collaborative Regional Research Programme (CRRP) grant from the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN)
Implementing building codes can be a challenge with widespread informal housing in both Dhaka, Bangladesh (left) and Kathmandu Valley, Nepal (right) )(image credit: Dr Ifte Ahmed)
A team of UON researchers are looking to explore the opportunities and challenges of compliance to safe building codes in assuring resilience in the face of disasters.
The team, from the School of Architecture and Built Environment, has been successful in winning a competitive research grant from the Japan-based Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) to explore the opportunities and challenges of compliance to safe building codes for disaster resilience in South Asia.
They have partnered with researchers in Dhaka University and BRAC University, Bangladesh and Tribhuvan University, Nepal, to undertake this collaborative research project that spans across the Asia-Pacific region.
Looking at specific cases in Bangladesh and Nepal, the team, led by Dr Ifte Ahmed is exploring the role that safe building codes play in assuring resilience in the face of the frequent disasters that affect these countries and to understand how these codes might be more widely adopted to reduce disaster risks.
“Safe buildings can save lives; tragedies that we have seen in these countries in the recent past need not happen”, says Dr. Ahmed. “What is required are building codes that are appropriate and affordable for the vast majority of low-income people in South Asian countries.”
School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Australia
A/Prof Ifte Ahmed
A/Prof Thayaparan Gajendran
A/Prof Graham Brewer
Dr Kim Maund
Dr Jason von Meding
Department of Geography & Environment, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Prof Humayun Kabir
Department of Architecture, BRAC University, Bangladesh
Dr Mohammad Faruk
Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Dr Hari Darshan Shrestha
Mr Nagendra Sitoula
In Bangladesh and Nepal the bulk of buildings (>80%) are constructed informally. Even in the formal sector there is limited adherence to building codes. Whilst building codes exist, they are not well-integrated into building and planning regulations, and there are additional enforcement and compliance challenges. Beyond these factors, affordability is a key constraint for people who build informally and there is need for a ‘grey’ building code.
If ‘safe building codes’ are followed a level of disaster resilience can be achieved. We have heard the truism “Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do” and in the case of Bangladesh and Nepal, it is true that the high mortality rate from disasters is human-induced – e.g. Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.
Increased institutional and community awareness of building safety is an opportunity for voluntary compliance to safe building codes. There is already a gradual paradigm shift and so, it is a relevant time for this project.
APN Introductory Workshop, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
An introductory workshop was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 8-10 November 2017. Academics from the project team provided presentations and discussions on understanding the opportunities and challenges of compliance to safe building codes for disaster resilience in South Asia for both Bangladesh and Nepal.
APN Interim Workshop, Dhaka, Bangladesh
An interium workshop was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 23-25 April 2018. The first day of the workshop included project team members from Australia, Bangladesh and Nepal, as well as relevant participants working in the building codes and disaster resilience field. Updates were provided on work undertaken so far in the three project countries, complemented by wider discussions on issues related to the topic of the research project. The second day involved planning for the subsequent stages of the project, and on the third day a field visit outside Dhaka was undertaken, particularly to the site of the Rana Plaza factory building collapse.
Final Workshop, Kathmandu, Nepal
The final workshop was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 28-30 August 2018, where the findings of the project from the three countries – Australia, Bangladesh and Nepal – were presented and reviewed, and future long-term planning was carried out. Filming was also undertaken for production of a video on the project. The first day included presentations on the three country reports, as well as the draft final report. The “Grey Building Handbook” was also launched, including the translated Bengali and Nepali versions.There were also high profile presentations from the Ministry of Urban Development and the Dean, Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University, Nepal.
The second day involved long-term planning beyond the project conclusion including publications, participation at conferences and further research collaborations. There was a field visit the third day to earthquake-devastated areas on the outskirts of Kathmandu, where reconstruction projects were ongoing, particularly the UN-Habitat supported project in the historic city of Bungamati. A regional workshop in the future to share the project’s findings was planned and support for that will be sought from the World Bank.
Grey Building Handbook – the cases of Nepal and Bangladesh, download in:
English (PDF, 1.3MB)
Nepali (PDF, 12.5MB)
Bengalis (PDF, 13.9MB)
To view the project video, please click HERE.