Earthquake resistant housing in Peru
Building in partnership
Alto Mayo Region
N EA OC IC CIF PA
The fundamental need for shelter can be easily recognised: people must have protection from the elements, somewhere to grow as a family, a place to work from and a home to call their own. In many countries people do not have the resources to buy houses built by professionals but rely on their own labour, using local materials to build their homes gradually. People make improvements and extend their houses as family requirements change and resources permit. This booklet tells the story of how Intermediate Technology worked with local communities in Peru to reconstruct their homes in the aftermath of a major earthquake.
Richter scale. The effects were felt in an area covering more than 8000 square kilometres, damage was sustained by 8000 houses with nearly 3000 irreparably damaged. These figures only begin to suggest the magnitude of loss felt by local communities. In the district capitals of Habana and Soritor, eight out of ten houses were destroyed.
Intermediate Technology is an organisation focused on achieving long-term, sustainable development and does not undertake disaster relief. However, IT Peru was well placed to assist in the reconstruction efforts; staff who worked in the area were well known by local people. In partnership with local organisations IT Peru had established working relationships and friendships that enabled them to quickly become
On the evening of 29 May 1990 Alto Mayo (see map) was struck by an earthquake measuring 6 on the
The impact of the earthquake on a tapial house in Soritor
María Asencia Salva Sedamano
María seen with her daughters Kary, Rosa and Zoryisabel, rebuilt her house on the outskirts of Moyobamba in a neighbourhood called Huacucho. She is the head of household and now runs her own laundry business; the first in town. The process of reconstruction was not an easy one for Maria but she feels she learnt a great deal from her involvement in her community’s affairs. Despite considerable pressure from her husband to rebuild their house in bricks and concrete, Maria saw the improved quincha project as a realistic opportunity to rebuild a roof over her family’s heads. She sold her sewing machine to obtain the necessary capital to purchase building materials. María was chosen by her community to represent their views in project discussions and negotiations. Alongside a male representative she was to become involved in a series of activities which, she says, developed her skills in dealing with people and built her selfconfidence. The Huacucho Neighbourhood Reconstruction Committee that María represented became an agricultural cooperative. María worked with other men and women to generate income by raising small livestock, selling agricultural produce and home-made food in the local María rebuilt the family home using market place. For a period she improved quincha was also president of the Mothers’ Club. Once María felt she had played those particular roles in community leadership for long enough she went into business for herself. Her considerable skills are also put to use as governor at the local school attended by her three daughters. When you visit María at her new home there is ample evidence that she feels she is in charge of her life, generating sufficient income to support her family. There are also clear signs that María is still using improved quincha to make further improvements to her family house.
Community meeting in Soritor involved in preparing a reconstruction plan. Relief intervention was the remit of Cáritas Peru, a church organisation supported by an international network of organisations concerned with humanitarian work. Given the disruption to daily lives caused by the earthquake, IT Peru recognised the opportunity to create long-term benefit and was careful to consider how people could participate in rebuilding homes. Reconstruction had to continue at a pace that people could afford and at the same time meet people’s need for economic survival alongside their need for shelter. IT Peru had to be certain that activities proceeded in accordance with local people’s priorities and would not be dominated by external pressures and agendas. IT Peru’s intervention in the reconstruction began in the town of Soritor (see map). This settlement was chosen as the starting point for two reasons: the extent of damage
sustained in the town was relatively high as was the level of community organisation. Social structures existed that enabled IT to consult with the local community despite the disruptive impact of the earthquake. After community meetings IT engineers and social scientists developed a reconstruction plan for the Alto Mayo region which was then presented to the local authorities.
The community based organisation FEDIP (el Frente de Defensa de los Intereses del Pueblo de Soritor) had evolved in the preceding years, during times of economic hardship, to negotiate prices and represent the interests of local producers: their organisational skills and knowledge proved to be critical in achieving project success. Soritor is divided into six neighbourhoods; each of these had an existing neighbourhood committee that organised collective
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