20 January 2012

Retro-fitting before and after disaster, by Michal Sládek, independent researcher

For the purpose of this presentation and research, retrofitting was defined as “the intervention on shelter that decreases the vulnerability towards natural threats”. This presentation starts off by presenting some of the technical practices of retro-fitting of structures. It points out the particular usefulness of steel as a material for retro-fitting purposes.
To be relevant for disaster responses, Michal states that retrofitting needs to be based on local technical knowledge, simple technologies, local materials and be driven by the affected people. Through a couple of brief examples, some of the complexity of retrofitting is further documented; what about urban populations for example, or the risks in quality of non-engineered retrofitting?
But, many houses can be reinforced to increase their structural strength and resistance to disasters. Retro-fitting is relevant in many contexts, and throughout the disaster management cycle. Main advantages that are pointed out include sustainability, avoidance of displacement, self-driven and stepwise process and reduced need for resources. Possible disadvantages, that can be mitigated, are time consumption, knowledge introduction, lack of dedicated funding and upkeep after humanitarian intervention.

This presentation goes alongside a written paper. Both documents are the result of a research assignment conducted by an independent researcher, Michal Sladek, under the guidance of the IFRC SRU team.

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