Responsible Re-Building in Disaster Zones

One of the biggest tasks after a natural disaster strikes involves the rebuilding of homes and lives for those who have been left with nothing. Problem is; most of the rebuilding efforts of this sort happen in places where natural disaster is ripe to strike again someday.  If rebuilding is done in traditional ways, disaster is surely to strike again, and more lives will be destroyed. Without proper rebuilding, the potential for violence in the region grows, as people are forced into alternative choices to feed, shelter and support themselves and their families. Peace can only truly begin to be built when people have access to their basic needs.

Recognizing that earthquakes don’t kill people, but rather poorly constructed buildings do when they collapse, Elizabeth Hausler set up Build Change. Build Change uses five steps to make safer homes in disaster regions:

1)      Learn which homes collapsed, and which ones didn’t  and why

2)      Design more earthquake-resistant homes

3)      Educate locals to build their skill sets using disaster-resistant technologies

4)      Stimulate local demand for new types of housing

5)      Measure the change over time

Elizabeth believes that earthquake-resistant construction will become common only if the right technology is locally available, widely known, cost effective and culturally accepted and she is working very hard to see that happen.

Earthship biotecture has very similar goals for rebuilding in disaster zones; using locally obtained materials, educating locals to help rebuild for themselves in the long term, and building more earthquake resistant homes. Imagine being able to help those devastated by earthquake in Haiti or Chile build a home with more fully sustainable utilities and food supplies for only $4-6,000. This is the mission the earthship team is now taking on.

Earthships capture and store energy from the sun and wind, collect rain and snow for water usage, treat sewage with botanical planters, heat and cool the interior of the building naturally and even grow most of their own food.  They are often made by stacking rammed-earth tires or using insulated rebar caging that result in high thermal mass and greater disaster resistance. The earthship team has helped build new homes in India after the 2004 tsunami, and is now making plans to head to Haiti to do the same.

You can help them in this mission by donating camping food, gear, money, and vaccines. Every little bit helps! Please check out for further details.

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