Algeria - Earthquake Inspection and Mitigation Assessment

Algeria - Earthquake Inspection and Mitigation Assessment

In 2003, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook Algeria causing damage in five North Central provinces. The earthquake resulted in 2,276 deaths and 11,000 injuries, while 100,000 people were left homeless. Most six-story concrete buildings experienced heavy damage or total collapse. The Algerian government’s Building Department had little seismic design experience, and required help in identifying the reason behind the damaged buildings. They requested the Canadian Embassy in Algeria’s help to identify seismic engineering specialists to assist.

BWB Involvement

The Canadian Embassy contacted Industry Canada, who subsequently contacted Builders Without Borders.  BWB recruited seismic/structural engineers to work with the Algerian Government and evaluate the earthquake damaged six-story buildings.  The BWB team (Pictured: Neil Griggs, Svetlana Brzev, Bogue Babicki) identified a lack of structural elements in the lower floors as being the primary factor causing the building failures.  BWB also recommended an alternate building system, a reinforced hollow concrete block system, which at that time was used widely in North American seismic zones however not in Algeria.

Our Impact

At the Algerian government’s request, BWB prepared a paper and proposed structural changes to the design of six-story buildings. The changes proposed included the introduction of additional structural elements in the lower floors to make the buildings stronger and more resistant to earthquake forces. These design changes were presented at an Algerian 2004 conference. As a result, the Algerian Construction Research Institute studied this design feature and introduced it into their building code, thereby improving the safety of buildings and mitigating the impact of future earthquakes.

Pictured: Bogue Babicki discussing reinforced concrete block system.