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Advancing Earthquake Safety in Rural Peru

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Children in the Peruvian village of Chocos, perched at 7000 feet above sea level, will soon be studying in a newly retrofitted school that’s not likely to collapse during an earthquake. This summer, the village’s three-room elementary school will get a more robust foundation, its adobe brick walls will be bound together by high-strength plastic netting called geomesh, and a reinforced concrete beam will be placed atop the walls. These important additions will keep the school and the children inside safer during future earthquakes.

For close to a year, GeoHazards International has been planning this work alongside our project partners – the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Stanford University and the Lima-based nonprofit Estrategia. But the project is about much more than the retrofit of one school building high in the Peruvian Andes. Our hope is that this project will create demand for future earthquake-resistant construction throughout Chocos and nearby communities.

The andean village of Chocos, Peru.

To accomplish this long-term goal, we and our partners devised a number of strategies. The project will formally kick off in Chocos the first week of July with the hosting of a movie night open to the entire community. Interspersed throughout the screening will be short videos explaining the earthquake risk and why it's important to prepare.

The project team will train community members in earthquake risk and steps individuals can take to make themselves safer. Local builders will be trained in earthquake-resistant construction, including the application of geomesh, a technique that was developed over many years at the Catholic University of Peru.These earthquake-resistant building practices are locally appropriate, easily replicable and cost-effective.

Local builders will be trained in earthquake-resistant construction, including the application of geomesh.

The team will record key elements of the project and later produce short videos that highlight the community’s efforts. Copies of these videos will be given to Chocos residents with the hope that they proudly share them with family and friends, and in the process promote earthquake awareness and earthquake-resistant construction.

The project is made possible by the generosity of the Swiss Reinsurance Company, Thornton Tomasetti Foundation, and GHI’s Ohya Memorial Fund, which was created in memory of Mr. Satoru Ohya, a generous donor to GHI and a founding member of GHI’s Board of Trustees.


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