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< prev - next > Disaster response mitigation and rebuilding Reconstruction PCR Tool 10 Quality Control (Printable PDF)
Quality Control
Quality of construction is a key factor in
determining whether a building will withstand
disasters. There is ample evidence to show that,
when hazards of similar magnitude strike rich and
poor countries, it is the latter which suffer more
casualties. Similarly, within countries, the poor
generally suffer more from a disaster than the
rich. Poverty is an important factor in determining
construction quality, however, it can be possible to
considerably improve quality with relatively little
extra cost.
Experience from past reconstruction tells us that
housing is built to varying degrees of quality, using
various approaches to reconstruction. Donor-Driven
Reconstruction (DDR), typically uses professionals
for design and supervision, and contractors for
construction, but does not always deliver adequate
quality. However simply handing over total
responsibility to home owners, through Owner-
Driven Reconstruction (ODR) does not solve this,
particularly if training and support is neglected.
In People-Centred Reconstruction (PCR),
people are in charge of the construction process,
therefore quality control starts with them. They
need to know why quality matters for building
back safer, and have a basic knowledge of how to
measure quality in the construction technologies
they have chosen. This is easier if technologies
Poverty led to poor construction and maintenance in the Alto
Mayo of Peru; when a moderate earthquake struck in 1990, it
destroyed many houses such as this.
are chosen that are familiar. Building artisans
also play an important role in ensuring quality of
reconstruction by assisting in more specialist parts
of construction. Although artisans may be in a
position to help build back better, people need to
be able to determine whether what they deliver is
good quality. As in ODR, quality improvement does
not happen spontaneously, but requires pro-active
involvement of the supporting agency. The agency
must determine, with the community, the existing
skills levels of local actors and subsequently what
training is needed to generate additional skills in
building materials production, construction and
quality control. They need to supervise and provide
additional technical support to the construction
process on a regular basis in order to make up for
any deficiencies. Whilst training in construction and
materials production is quite commonly provided in
reconstruction projects, training in quality control is
often neglected. This tool aims to help fill this gap.
Why is quality of construction
The quality of buildings is important to the
occupants. Collapse of buildings is the most
common cause of deaths, injuries and material
damage in natural disasters. Evidence shows that
a lack of quality in construction is a key factor in
building collapse or damage. That is not to say
that other factors, such as location, design or
maintenance, can be ignored, but construction
quality deserves special attention; for more on the
design, see PCR Tool 8, Participatory Design. It
is also clear, from past experience, that disasters
affect the poor more than the rich, and there is
a correlation between the quality of construction
people can afford and its subsequent behaviour
during a disaster.
This apparent correlation, however, deserves
further scrutiny at local levels. There is ample
evidence that sometimes relatively poor people
do build with technologies that resist disasters
well and are not very costly; see also PCR Tool
3, Learning from Disasters. Certain vernacular
technologies have evolved over centuries, and often
taken on board disaster-resisting details in the
process. For example, this is the case, in Pakistan,
Peru and Turkey, where various timber frame
technologies have been successfully adopted in