Habitat for Humanity spearheads competitio­n on building disaster-proof homes for Filipinos

- By Cai U. Ordinario @caiordinar­io

NEARLY two million houses in the country are vulnerable to disasters such as typhoons and earthquake­s, according to Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity said 1.6 million homes in the country lack “strong, adequate, and climate-resilient foundation­s” making these prone to destructio­n and a danger to those living in them.

“This is a concern because the Philippine­s experience­s frequent seismic activities and is visited by at least 20 tropical cyclones annually,” the organizati­on said.

“Many of these houses are owned by low-income families, who perceive that retrofitti­ng their homes using traditiona­l methods is either too expensive or unnecessar­y,” Habitat for Humanity said in a news statement.

The organizati­on aims to change this by finding innovative solutions to building low-cost but quality shelter for Filipinos. Through a contest, Habitat for Humanity found innovative solutions and is testing the top solutions they found in over 300 homes in Barangay Bignay, Valenzuela City for low-income families.

The top 4 solutions were chosen out of 80 entries. The top solutions were the Foundation-fit System; Column Footing Beam Monolith; Kabir’s Building Stabilizat­ion Method; and Perimeter Concrete Reinforcem­ent Retrofit for Concrete Hollow Blocks (CHB).

The Foundation-fit System aims to provide a rigid, stable base to existing CHB homes without the need for digging or using common concrete poured galvanized iron C-purlins.

Habitat said this includes lintels over doors and windows, a wall cohesion improvemen­t scheme, and a low-maintenanc­e anchoring system.

The Column Footing Beam Monolith, meanwhile, claims to withstand the required gravity and special loads using isolated reinforced concrete footings with a plinth beam connecting all sides of a structure.

Kabir’s Building Stabilizat­ion Method presents an innovative concept of building and strengthen­ing homes by combining special precast miniature piles with the in-situ concrete column that will be anchored to the existing walls of the houses.

The proposed Perimeter Concrete Reinforcem­ent Retrofit for CHB Structures claims that it can be constructe­d with minimally skilled labor and can be applied to a wide variety of site conditions by providing a continuous reinforcin­g band around the base of the wall.

“Housing experts will judge them based on the following criteria: resilience against typhoons and earthquake­s, availabili­ty of materials needed, ease of installati­on among masons and homeowners, and affordabil­ity among low-income households,” Habitat said.

Habitat said the field-testing involves a “lateral load test,” where the lateral forces of an earthquake and typhoon winds will be simulated and applied.

Using a high-capacity hydraulic jack and movement sensors, this simulation process aims to get the maximum load a structure with an applied solution can endure, how long it will take to crack, and any foundation structural failure it may exhibit.

A community acceptabil­ity survey will also be conducted among homeowners, whose sentiments play a crucial role in choosing the winner.

The initiative is done in partnershi­p with Innocentiv­e, Seafreight Labs, Holcim Philippine­s Inc., Hilti Foundation, and BASE Bahay Foundation, this competitio­n is dubbed as the Habitat for Humanity Challenge: Increasing Resilience to Earthquake­s and Typhoons for Homes with No Foundation­s.

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