The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation

Class: Crisis, Vulnerability and Development Instructor: Bruce Guenther By Carsten Kaefert (3012875)

Table of Contents
The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation......................................................1 Abstract.......................................................................................................................................3 Vulnerabilities.............................................................................................................................3 1. Location..............................................................................................................................3 2. Time....................................................................................................................................6 3. Construction and 4. Building Codes..................................................................................7 Multi-Level Vulnerabilities Adding up.................................................................................10 Relief.........................................................................................................................................10 Restoring Sanitation a Sound Measure?...............................................................................10 Lessons Learnt..........................................................................................................................13

Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→

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Abstract
In the early morning hours of December 26th 2003 an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter scale shook the city of Bam in southeastern Iran. The incident killed more than 26.000 people and destroyed or damaged around 85 per cent of the buildings in Bam and the surrounding villages, rendering a further 125.000 homeless. This article will show how an impressive lineup of different factors for vulnerability turned a comparatively minor earthquake into a major disaster. These factors range from high seismic activity in Iran to construction improper for an area with such stresses and how the earthquake hit in the worst possible moment. It will further analyze the relief efforts of the British NGO Oxfam, which focused on restoring sanitation services in villages surrounding Bam. Their action is remarkable for its reliance on locally available materials.

Vulnerabilities
Vulnerability to earthquakes is determined by a number of different factors. Considering the comparatively low magnitude of the earthquake in Bam and the scale of the disaster it triggered, it becomes obvious how central analysis of these vulnerabilities is to the understanding of this case. Wisner et al. identify four key determinants to earthquakes:

1. Location
“The location of the earthquake […] is of prime importance.”1 This is rather obvious. The location is of central importance on different scales: On a macro scale to assess the degree of exposure for a country or region, on a meso scale to assess exposure within one country or region
1 Ben Wisner et al., At Risk: Natural Hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters (London, New York: Routledge, 2004), 277. Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Vulnerabilities Page 3/14

on the level of towns and villages and on a micro scale, dealing with risks on the level of single buildings.2 All of these levels are relevant to the analysis of the case at hand. This is most obvious when analyzing the macro scale: Iran is the seismically most active country in the world. According to calculations undertaken by Asef it ranks first in regard to earthquake disaster occurrences3 as well as to a criterion ICV integrating the country rankings in energy strike, disaster occurences, fatalities, fatality burden (fatalities per capita) and fatality-energy index (measuring the energy strike necessary to cause a fatality).4 Keeping in mind that the worst case gets the lowest ICV, the margin by which Iran is more susceptible to earthquakes than the rest of the world becomes strikingly clear seeing that its ICV of 8.6 is just little more than half that of China (14.9), the second worst country in the ranking.5 On the meso scale, the specific vulnerabilities of the local economy come into play. Bam, basically an ancient oasis, had two main sources of income, both of which were disrupted by the earthquake: Agriculture and tourism. Dates and oranges were the main produce, irrigated by a historic system of channels called ganats. This system was ruptured, additionally the natural springs were devastated, effectively drying out the plants.6 But not only the next harvest was lost, the last one also suffered, putting further strains on local livelihoods: “Electricity lines were also brought down, causing a year's stockpile of succulent Bam dates, housed in refrigerators, to spoil
2 Cf. ibid. 3 Cf. M.R. Asef, “Modelling the elements of country vulnerability to earthquake disasters,” Disasters 32(3) (2008): 488. 4 Cf. ibid. 489-491. 5 Cf. ibid. 491. 6 Cf. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), “IRAN-IRAN: Special on Bam Three Months on,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=23658 (accessed 2008-11-09) Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Vulnerabilities Page 4/14

- the farmers had not yet been paid for their supplies.”7 Tourists were drawn to Bam because of its more than 2000 years old citadel of Arg-e-Bam, which was the oldest clay-brick building in the world. Eighty percent of it have been destroyed.8

Illustration 1: Estimated population directly affected by the Bam earthquake. Map: USAID (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/SKAR64GE3G?OpenDocument&rc=3&emid=EQ-2003-0630-IRN)

7 Ibid. 8 Cf. Jean-François Pinera, Robert A. Reed and Cyrus Njiru, “Restoring sanitation services after an earthquake: field experience in Bam, Iran,” Disasters 29(3) (2005): 223. Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Vulnerabilities Page 5/14

Two other interweaved factors differentiate the affected area on the meso scale: The close proximity of the earthquake's epicenter to the city of Bam (compare illustration 1) and the fact whether a person lives in the city itself or in one of the surrounding villages. Due to architectural differences, both the city and the countryside had vastly different needs in respect to sanitation, which will be discussed later on.9 Vulnerability to earthquakes also varies on a micro scale. This became apparent in Bam, where buildings can be sorted into six categories with vast implications for their performance during the earthquake.10 Analysis of the micro scale determinants thus is closely tied to the quality of construction11 and therefore will be discussed in the corresponding chapter.

2. Time
“The temporal characteristics of earthquakes are also crucial.”12 Again, vulnerability is temporally determined on three levels: frequency of earthquakes, which determines experience, season or occasion of the earthquake and the time of day at which it hits.13 For Bam, all of the dials were set for disaster: The city had not experienced any major quakes in modern times (proven by the remarkably good state of the citadel before the earthquake), 14 the earthquake hit in the height of winter with temperatures well below zero degrees Celsius and stockpiles full of dates15 and, perhaps most treacherous, struck at 05:28AM local time, when most of the people were sleeping.16
9 Cf. Ibid. 226. 10 Cf. Farrokh Nadim et al., “The Bam Earthquake of 26 December 2003,” Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering 2 (2004): 131. 11 Cf. Wisner et al. At risk... 277. 12 Ibid. 13 Cf. Ibid. 14 Cf. Pinera, Restoring... 223. 15 Cf. IRIN, IRAN-IRAN: Special... 16 Cf. BBC, “Iran earthquake kills thousands,” BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3348613.stm Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Vulnerabilities Page 6/14

3. Construction and 4. Building Codes
“Characteristics of buildings and unsafe structures also have a strong influence on vulnerability to earthquake hazard.”17 Nadim et al. identify six different categories of buildings can within Bam and the surrounding areas, each with specific characteristics in regard to earthquake vulnerability:

• Type1–Traditional adobe buildings: These buildings are made of series of rectangular or square rooms next to each other, sharing a wall in between them. The rooms usually are made of sun-dried clay brick load bearing walls,[...]The arched roof is either dome or half-cylindrical shaped. The roofs are also made of sun-dried clay brick. The roof is covered with a layer of clay mud mixed with straw [...]. This type of construction is common in rural Iran and has been around for centuries.[...] • Type 2 – Unreinforced masonry buildings: these buildings are made of unreinforced masonry load-bearing walls. The walls are commonly constructed with oven-dried brick or sometimes with concrete blocks and are usually 35–45 cm thick.[...]The roofs and floors are typically a brick-filled steel beam system (“jack arch system”).[...]The completed roof or floor is usually thick and heavy. [...] • Type 3 – Simple steel or concrete frames with unreinforced masonry (brick) infill: These buildings have the main gravity load carrying systems made of simple beams and columns. The roofs and floors are made the same way as in Type 2 construction. [...] The walls are sometimes as thin as the width of a brick! • Type 4 – Steel frames with steel shear bracing and unreinforced masonry (brick) infill: These buildings are similar to Type 3 but with steel X-bracing in one or two directions for carrying lateral loads[...] • Type 5 – Moment-resisting frames (concrete or steel): These buildings are designed such that the steel or concrete frames transfer the lateral loads from floors and roof to the foundation. The roof and floors are made the same way as in Type 2 construction. [...] • Type 6 – Steel frame with metal roof: These buildings are usually one story with light (corrugated) steel or aluminium sloped roof and used in industrial and commercial facilities.[...]

(accessed 2008-11-09) 17 Wisner et al. At risk... 277. Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Vulnerabilities Page 7/14

Most of the buildings seen in Bam were of the above types or a variation of them. Note that most of the building types described above, except for Type 6 construction, have thick heavy roofs.[...]18

It does not take much imagination or engineer's skills to figure out that top-heavy buildings from weak materials perform suboptimally in case of an earthquake. Nadim et al. back up this assumption with empiric data taken at several spots around town, including the following:

Stop 6 – Basij Rotary. Near total damage. All traditional adobe building types (Type 1) collapsed. Most Type 2 buildings collapsed. No unsupported walls survived. Heavy damage to steel frame with metal roof building. Severe damage to steel frame buildings. Collapsed telecom/radio steel tower.19

One might assume that this is first and foremost a problem of old, traditional nonengineered housing. It is not, as Nadim et al. witness:

Stop 10 – Razmandegan Subdivision-Shahrak Razmandegan. About 150 to 200 newer homes (about 5 years old) were located in this new development. Most, if not, all had collapsed. The residential units were of Type 2 construction, some with an L-shaped plan, and mostly one storey.[...] Although the brick wall mortar looks good, it was not strong enough to withstand large lateral force induced due to heavy roof.20

The large scale collapse of new housing leads to the question how this was possible. Should there not have been protective measures?
18 Nadim et al., The Bam... 133. 19 Ibid. 135. 20 Ibid. 137. Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Vulnerabilities Page 8/14

“Protective measures include […] policies that officials have taken […] to reduce seismic risks.”21 Such policies include, for example, aseismic building codes, which have proven highly successful in the past. The Loma Prieta earthquake, for example, struck the densely populated San Francisco Bay region with a magnitude of 7.1 on the Richter scale in 1989, but came at a cost of human life several orders of magnitude lower – only 57 casualties could be directly linked to the earthquake.22 Although protection is obviously possible, in 2003 Iran had neither strict enough regulations in place nor were the existing regulations enforced. Illustration 2 clearly shows the inadequacy of the building code in effect in Bam at the time of the earthquake, as the forces unleashed even by this rather average earthquake exceeds the minimum of what a building has to be Illustration 2: Forces of the Bam earthquake compared to building code requirements. (Source: Farrokh Nadim et al. 2004, 130) able to take Still, without had the

disintegrating.

buildings been up to at least this minimal standard, “a properly

designed and constructed structure based on the code requirements would most likely have survived the event without collapsing.”23

21 Wisner et al. At risk... 278. 22 Cf. Jason E. Eberhart-Phillips et al., “Profile of Mortality from the 1989 Lorna Prieta Earthquake using Coroner and Medical Examiner Reports,” Disasters 18(2) (1994): 160. 23 Nadim et al., The Bam... 129. Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Vulnerabilities Page 9/14

Multi-Level Vulnerabilities Adding up
Having shown that Bam was exceptionally vulnerable to earthquakes on virtually all levels, that all of the determinants there pointed towards disaster, it becomes less surprising that an earthquake of such modest magnitude caused such complete devastation. This was one disaster waiting to happen.

Relief
The widespread destruction of the better part of buildings left the population of Bam and the surrounding villages virtually helpless. As the Iranian government struggled with the task of providing support to its affected citizens,international aid became more and more important (welcome, as it had to overcome quite some reservations).24 One of the first organizations on the ground was Oxfam,25 which soon focused on restoring sanitation services.

Restoring Sanitation a Sound Measure?
Although it was winter when the earthquake hit, the temperatures were expected to rise significantly just shortly after, thus creating a higher need for sanitation such as showers.26 Oxfam took this task in the area of eleven villages in the outskirts of the city, as this was the ground it was assigned to by the local crisis management authorities.27 This differentiated the practices of Oxfam very much from those of the organizations active within the city's boundaries for a variety of reasons:

24 25 26 27

Cf. Erich Wiedemann, “Großer Satan im Reich des Bösen,” Der Spiegel 2 (2004): 98. Cf. Pinera, Restoring... 224. Cf. Ibid. 227. Cf. Ibid. 223. Page 10/14

Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Relief

–The magnitude of destruction was lower. Although still between twenty and fifty per cent of the buildings were destroyed, in some parts of the city destruction was total.28 –Due to a higher prevalence of outdoor toilets, more of those made it through the earthquake in usable condition.29 –The different social fabric lead to another prevalence of sanitary installations before the hazard with way fewer people having showers of their own. However, people were used to clean themselves in their closed-up yards, which now did not offer the needed privacy anymore.30 –Building material and supplies were easier available than within the city.31 These differences led to a quite unique approach to the task of restoring sufficient sanitation capacities. Most obvious is the decision to rely on locally available materials and workforce by choosing a construction that could by completed by local masons with readily available material: The toilets and showers were slated to be made with relatively thin walls from clay bricks (which is the common building material in the area) with lightweight roof constructions.32 Due to mostly inside toilets and a higher prevalence of showers, agencies within the city relied more upon ready-made cubicles, as these helped to satisfy the bigger demand faster.33 The measures taken by Oxfam can be assessed on a variety of levels. These are:

28 29 30 31 32 33

Cf. Ibid. 224. Cf. Ibid. 226. Cf. Ibid. Cf. Ibid. 227. Cf. Ibid. 230-231. Cf. Ibid. 224-225. Page 11/14

Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Relief

–“Cost and work management:”34 Oxfam just provided all the necessary materials (except clay) and wages for skilled workers. The sites for communal bathrooms were chosen by the local communities, as well as the beneficiaries were responsible for the upkeeping of the facilities and provided unskilled work to their erection.35 Thus local ownership was guaranteed. –“Efficiency:”36 Although at first supplies were feared to be a problem, they were much less so than labor. Recruiting a sufficient number of masons in the villages proved to be a challenge threatening the efficiency of the operation. Similarly determining the efficiency was the cooperation (or lack thereof) with local authorities. Although around one third of all the units were under construction by the end of February, none were completed before April.37 So efficiency lacked in terms of being able to provide hygienic sanitary conditions before the start of the hot season in March.38 –Fulfillment of the SPHERE charter.39 The SPHERE charter justifies the construction of showers by two statements: It says that sanitation programs should aim “to establish 'conditions that allow people to live in good health, dignity, comfort and security'”40 as well as it specifies the amount of water assigned to beneficiaries to be culturally sensitive.41

Lessons Learnt
This disaster and the response to it teach us lessons on two levels: ex ante and ex post. For prevention, mainly a stricter and better enforced building code come to mind. Nadim et al.
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 Ibid. 231. Cf. Ibid. Ibid. 231. Cf. Ibid. 233. Cf. Ibid. 227. Cf. Ibid. 233. Ibid. 233. Cf. Ibid. Page 12/14

Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Lessons Learnt

present a whole list of possible structural and architectural improvements based upon the patterns of destruction they observed.42 But also in respect to recovery after disaster valuable lessons have been learned. The concept of building upon local supplies and craftsmanship proved right, as it was both reasonably effective and included the local populus. Another lesson that can be taken is that repairing installations is more often a viable choice than not.43

42 Cf. Nadim et al., The Bam... 139ff. 43 Cf. Pinera, Restoring... 235. Carsten Kaefert: The Earthquake in Bam – Combating Disaster with Sanitation→Lessons Learnt Page 13/14

Bibliography
–Asef, M.R., “Modelling the elements of country vulnerability to earthquake disasters,” Disasters 32(3) (2008). –Eberhart-Phillips, Jason E. et al., “Profile of Mortality from the 1989 Lorna Prieta Earthquake using Coroner and Medical Examiner Reports,” Disasters 18(2) (1994). –Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), “IRAN-IRAN: Special on Bam Three Months on,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=23658 (accessed 2008-11-09). –Nadim, Farrokh et al., “The Bam Earthquake of 26 December 2003,” Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering 2 (2004). –Pinera, Jean-François, Reed, Robert A. and Njiru, Cyrus, “Restoring sanitation services after an earthquake: field experience in Bam, Iran,” Disasters 29(3) (2005). –Wisner, Ben et al., At Risk: Natural Hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters. London, New York: Routledge, 2004.

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