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Optimisation of post-disaster assisted self-build housing construction and labour safety in developing countries
* 1 , 1 , 1 , 2
1  Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
2  Department of Architectural Technology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya


Natural and man-made disasters and conflicts occur constantly around the world, leaving displaced and vulnerable people every year, especially in the developing countries. Among other urgent necessities, this population needs to rebuild their houses. Due to the scarcity of resources in these disaster contexts, many of them opt for self-build or community-based construction of simple houses. Community-based construction can be a solution in these situations, maybe the only one available, but arises other problems such as a scarce awareness and prevention of the labour risks and scarce construction knowledge and skills. Taking into account all the factors, a possible solution to this, proposed by the authors, could be an ‘assisted self-build construction’. That is to say, a self-construction by a community, in which the members have been specifically trained in the labour risk prevention and construction materials and techniques they are going to use. This involve a previous analysis with the following steps: (1) study of the local and traditional materials and construction techniques of vernacular houses; (2) study of how they could be improved by incorporating new current construction knowledge; (3) design of different low-tech but high-knowledge housing appropriate for self-building; (4) evaluation of the sustainability of the alternative designs, including the labour risks during construction, and selection of the best one; and (5) definition of the teaching content and plan. The selected design should integrate the local and traditional construction materials and knowledge, which are usually available and sustainable, with the current knowledge, in order to improve the traditional design and make it more resistant to natural hazards such as earthquakes and, at the same time, create a more comfortable house. The labour risks during self-construction should be evaluated, the construction process adapted in order to minimise the risks, and preventive measure defined.

Keywords: developing countries; post-disaster housing; self-build construction; community participation; labour risks; traditional construction; current knowledge; sustainability