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  • Build Change 535 16th Street, Suite 605
    CO 80202 Denver
    United States of America

    Phone: +1.303.953.2563

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Build Change

Non-Governmental Organization

Build Change is an international, non-profit social enterprise with a mission to greatly reduce deaths, injuries and economic losses caused by housing collapses due to earthquakes in developing countries. Build Change does this by designing disaster-resistant houses and training builders, homeowners,...



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Build Change is an international, non-profit social enterprise with a mission to greatly reduce deaths, injuries and economic losses caused by housing collapses due to earthquakes in developing countries. Build Change does this by designing disaster-resistant houses and training builders, homeowners, engineers, government officials, teachers and students on how to construct them. The organization also strives to ensure that building codes are enforced or construction practices are permanently changed so that houses and schools built in the absence of external funding and technical support are also resilient. Build Change has trained more than 15,000 people in Haiti, Indonesia and China on earthquake-resistant design and construction techniques, who have in turn built nearly 20,000 resilient homes, impacting over 80,000 people.

Disaster Reduction Goal

The organization's goal is that all homes built with input from Build Change in developing countries are resistant to earthquakes and other natural disasters, reducing the number of avoidable, unnecessary deaths.

Sustainability is a key part of the NGO's program. Build Change works toward systems change and creating an ecosystem in which disaster-resistant construction becomes the norm. It does this by empowering everyone in the construction-sector supply chain with the skills, tools and incentives to build earthquake-resistant houses.

Policies and Programmes in DRR

Build Change offers a number of programs that reduce the risk for disaster and raise the resilience of the local communities against future disasters. These include:

  • Capacity building in DRR techniques. Build Change provides technical assistance and trains thousands of builders, construction professionals, teachers, students and engineers on safe construction practice. 
  • Technical support to governments. The organization partners with governments to develop simple and practical design guidelines, systems for building and inspecting safe houses, and systems for monitoring and enforcing those standards. Build Change also trains government engineers on earthquake-resistant design and construction techniques.
  • Capacity building of construction material producers and suppliers. The NGO promotes the use of safe earthquake-resistant building materials. In addition, it works to create jobs and increase incomes of local construction material producers and suppliers.
  • Technical resource development. Build Change develops and distributes easy-to-understand resources that promote simple disaster risk reduction techniques.
  • Vocational training. Build Change trains vocational teachers, students and education administrators on safe, earthquake-resistant design and construction practices. It also works with education bureaus to incorporate these practices into the school districts’ curriculum.
  • Design review and construction supervision services. The NGO reviews designs for houses, schools and other buildings; develops designs and construction quality checklists; and provides hands-on technical assistance and supervision during construction and retrofit projects.

Membership in Key Networks

Build Change is a proud member of the United Nations Global Compact, InterAction, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) including the CGI Haiti Action Network, the World Economic Forum (WEF) through the Schwab Foundation, WEF Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI), Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), Ashoka and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. In addition, the organization remains committed to working together with fellow organizations involved in disaster preparedness and recovery, regularly attending and contributing to UNOCHA meetings.

Making disaster risk reduction a policy priority, institutional strengthening (HFA 1)

Build Change partners with governments to develop simple, practical design guidelines; systems for building and inspecting safe houses; systems for monitoring and enforcing those standards; and structural engineering design resources. Build Change also provides technical assistance and train-the-trainer programs to government engineers to strengthen institutional capacity, reach a much greater scale and create sustainable change in construction practice. Build Change has implemented such programs in Indonesia, China and Haiti, and is expanding its work to Latin America to mitigate the risk for disaster.

Build Change also works with a number of other institutions including universities, high schools and education bureaus to build capacity in safe building techniques and institutionalize earthquake-resistant design and construction training in the vocational school curriculum.

Risk assessment and early warning systems (HFA 2)

Build Change carries out rapid risk assessments following a major earthquake to determine why some of the buildings collapsed. It uses this information to look for low- or no-cost improvements to existing ways of building earthquake-resistant houses.

The NGO also assesses the structural elements of buildings to determine the risk of disaster at certain locations.

Build Change aligns its building risk assessments with vulnerability assessments, assessing the household members themselves and the important aspects of age, gender and capital that can make a household more resilient or more vulnerable to a disaster.

Education, information and public awareness (HFA 3)

Build Change develops and distributes a variety of easy-to-understand technical resources and outreach materials with simple messages about how to build earthquake-resistant houses. Build Change works with local organizations and groups to distribute these materials to citizens in high-risk communities, homeowners, builders, schools, construction professionals and material suppliers. Build Change also works with education bureaus to promote the inclusion of earthquake-resistant design and construction techniques in vocational school curricula.

You can find Build Change technical resources to build earthquake-resistant houses for Indonesia, Haiti and China at

Reducing underlying risk factors (HFA 4)

Build Change believes that earthquake-resistant construction in developing countries will become common only if the right technology is locally available, widely known and culturally accepted. In addition, the cost of the technology must be competitive with existing, but not necessarily safe, building methods. With this understanding, Build Change developed and implements an innovative, highly sustainable six-step homeowner-driven model that creates permanent change in construction practice – to one that is safe, earthquake-resistant, culturally appropriate and widely accepted by local communities at all socioeconomic levels.

Build Change’s Six-Step, Homeowner-Driven Model
1. Learn First: Why did houses collapse in this earthquake? Why did they not?
It starts out with forensic engineering studies after earthquakes, so it doesn't make the same mistake twice.

2. Design Earthquake-Resistant Houses: What types of houses do people want to build here, now?
It's easier to make minor, low or no-cost changes to existing ways of building than introduce a completely new technology, or reintroduce a traditional building method that has gone out of style

3. Build Local Skills: How can the NGO disseminate this knowledge to masses of engineers and builders?
The best designs in the world will not save lives if they are not built properly, or local engineers remain unsure how to design them.

4. Stimulate Local Demand: How can Build Change convince a rural homeowner with little money to invest more in building a safe house?
Make it affordable, easy to implement, and leverage the window of opportunity that exists right after an earthquake disaster.

And, how can Build Change make it easy for local government officials to enforce building codes?
Create simple building codes, training seminars, and inspection systems that work in rural areas with little infrastructure, budget, time and personnel.

5. Facilitate Access to Capital: What is the minimum amount of funding required to build a safe house?
Build Change partners with governments and financing institutions to provide access to capital that is contingent upon meeting minimum standards for construction quality.

6. Measure the Change: Are people building safe houses now and will they do so after the organization leaves?
Seeing homeowners building safe houses with their own resources – not simply living in houses built for them – is the true test of sustainable, long-term change.

Preparedness for effective response (HFA 5)

Mitigation and preparation are very important stages of disaster risk reduction, and all too often receive little funding or support. Build Change understands that for every $1 invested in disaster preparedness, $7 is saved in disaster response. Therefore, Build Change is involved in mitigating the threat of earthquakes by ensuring the homes that people live in are safe, secure and free from collapse should an earthquake strike. Throughout its capacity building programs in schools, Build Change also teaches the importance of earthquake preparedness so children are aware of what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Based on its work implementing homeowner-driven housing reconstruction programs in Indonesia, Haiti and China, Build Change also advises governments and other NGOs about the value of quickly implementing homeowner-driven reconstruction and retrofitting (strengthening) programs (incentive-based grants and loans with technical assistance) after disasters to create long-term, sustainable change in the construction industry and reduce the risk for future disasters.

Making Cities Resilient Campaign Activities

Build Change currently is promoting the use of better building materials in the highly earthquake-prone regions of West Sumatra, Indonesia, and in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The City of Padang in particular, is predicted to suffer from yet another earthquake of magnitude 8.8 or above in the near future. Materials contribute to whether a building will withstand an earthquake or other natural disasters, so it is vital they meet safe, earthquake-resistant standards. The NGO's better building material campaigns in both of these cities will ensure that housing and buildings will withstand the next earthquake.

In Port-au-Prince, Build Change is working with local engineers to retrofit existing buildings to make them more resilient to natural disasters, at a much lower cost than rebuilding. Build Change also continues efforts at densification, which include plans for building and retrofitting multiple-unit, mixed-use buildings to increase resiliency of a dense, urban environment.

Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)

Earthquakes don’t kill people, poorly constructed buildings do. Build Change reduces the number of avoidable, unnecessary deaths by designing earthquake-resistant housing and buildings and training builders, homeowners, engineers and government officials to build them. Build Change believes that all individuals, regardless of income, gender, religion or race, deserve access to a safe, earthquake-resistant home.

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  • 535 16th Street, Suite 605 CO 80202 Denver United States of America

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  • Conferences:  - 2017 Global Platform
     - 2019 Global Platform

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