This article gives a brief profile of Kabul City, describes the existing level of seismic hazard and provides an overview of some of the existing non-engineered housing typologies and construction materials that exist in the areas targeted by the Project for City Resilience (PCR). Rapid urbanisation of Afghan cities without proper construction regulation has exposed their population to a high risk of damage from disasters such as earthquakes. This study reports and evaluates a recent retrofitting project in Kabul City by ‘Project for City Resilience’, carried out under the supervision of the United Nation Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) for 48 retrofitted sun-dried clay brick masonry buildings in Kabul.
The project was executed by local masons and welders who were trained as a part of the project, and the main tasks included installation of an additional steel frame, additional reinforced concrete foundation ring, ceiling replacement and wall strengthening (via mesh and plaster). After a visual assessment of retrofitted buildings considering the original retrofitting design and actual work done, a vulnerability index for retrofitted buildings was developed based on a behaviour modifier factor, which was assigned to each retrofitting activity using a combination of values and a proportion of scores for each retrofitting activity. The results indicate that training of local masons and welders to undertake retrofitting activities could decrease the damage ratio by 15% – 20% for peak ground acceleration values of 0.3 g and higher. The methods mentioned in this study can be used to make existing sun-dried clay brick masonry buildings sufficiently resistant to earthquakes of moderate-to-severe intensity.