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Re: Misc Opinions

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Jim,
 
The problems are being addressed in many parts of the Third World. Here in the Caribbean we have received a proposal from a leading American seismologist to prepare hazard maps for the region and to train regional seismologists in updating the maps as new data become available. We have been promised funding for the project and hope it would start in a few months.
 
In addition local Engineering Code committees are in monthly meetings with the relevant Government Building Approval Agencies to get up-to-date design and detailing requirements to be made mandatory ( based on existing hazard assessments) and to ensure compliance.
Like parts of America and around the world where seismic activity is infrequent, we do have problems in getting support from the governments and private sector developers. They are against spending or advocating spending of more money for a 1 in 2500 year event even though it may occur tommorrow. Even engineers are resisting as they have to incur additional costs in training and design time. I have spoken to Ministers of Government who while supportive of higher code standards, enforcement and the supportive legislation, are concerned about marginalisation of small engineering practices and contractors who may not have the resources to ugrade their operations.
 
Most of the third world experiences similar difficulties when trying to change things for the better particularly when increased costs are involved.
In the caribbean we are making improvements slowly. We have received a lot of technical support from some Americans Prof.Ted Algermissen and Dr. S.K. Ghosh amongst others and we will continue our efforts to improve our seismic engineering and construction practices.
 
Mark Francois
 
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2003 11:22 AM
Subject: RE: Misc Opinions

Francois,
 
You wrote......"The reason that buildings fail in third world are not because the engineers are incapable of designing earthquake resistant buildings but for the following reasons.
  • the majority of the building stock is old and therefore built before engineers trained in earthquake design were available.
  • lack of enforcement of codes and quality assurance standards in new buildings because of corruption or ineptitude of Government Agengies responsible.
  • Many clients will not use the better engineering firms because of cost and will use firms incable of Seismic resistant design.
  • Lack of knoweledge of the regions seismiscity. Many countires do not have properly prepared seismic hazard maps. Poorer countries often do not make such research a priority.
  • And yes the value put on human life is lower."
But, Francois, the question is still there.  What are engineers doing in the third world countries to address and correct these problems?  The first four items have been addressed before on this list regarding the conditions in this country and I think many of us on this list are involved with codes, laws, cost concerns for our engineering, voting and making our buildings safer.
 
Jim Persing, PE
Washington, USA