Elizabeth Strand: Building Disaster-Resistant Homes and Schools

Ashoka Fellow
United States, North America
Fellow Since 2009
My work: Creating new norms & building practices so that low-cost earthquake-resistant home construction becomes common.


This profile was prepared when Elizabeth Hausler Strand was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Thousands die every year in earthquake-affected regions, most in developing countries where buildings are not reinforced properly to withstand quakes. Yet the quality and efficacy of response is highly variant, location to location, quake to quake. Elizabeth is creating the enabling environment that allows earthquake reconstruction—and then construction moving forward—to become standard. She engages homeowners, engineers, contractors, local and international aid organizations, and local government to get homes built safely, allowing as much homeowner preference as possible. With a clear focus on the goal—safe homes now and moving forward – she creates the part of the enabling environment that is absent in a particular locale, making sure that homes are built safely, and that the tragic occasion of the quake is used maximally to realize a lasting change in building practices.

Elizabeth’s approach molds easily to fit the need of any post-earthquake environment—whether in post-tsunami Aceh in the context of significant (too much) international aid money, or in Sichuan, China, where the Chinese government is financing and managing the rebuilding process, with little outside support. Currently, she has teams in West Sumatra, Indonesia, and Sichuan, China, and expects to move to a third country—a pre-earthquake environment—next year.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person


Check out this video of Elizabeth's work:


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