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Building classification and seismic vulnerability of current housing construction in Malawi

Ignasio Ngoma
Innocent Kafodya
Panos Kloukinas
Viviana Novelli
John Macdonald
Katsuichiro Goda


Malawi experiences multiple natural hazards with severe effects on the population and the economy, amid challenging conditions of a rapidly degrading environment and limited resources. Recently, the Government of Malawi has taken the first major step to implement the national disaster risk management policy in close partnership with international aid organisations. Local communities and housing conditions are key components for achieving sustainable development and for reducing the impact of natural disasters. This study presents the results of a recent building survey conducted in Central and Southern Malawi to understand the current situation of housing construction in Malawi more accurately. The survey focussed on the informal housing construction sector with respect to seismic vulnerability. The observed characteristics of local buildings are compared with the global building classifications that are widely used for evaluating seismic vulnerability of structures. Building typologies that are defined based on international building databases and those observed in the field are different, highlighting the importance of obtaining more realistic building information for seismic risk assessment.

Keywords: Building survey, building classification, seismic vulnerability