Methodology for sustainable Improvement of rural schools’ safety in Colombia

Project Details


Today, there are approximately 289000 children age 6 to 12 years living in rural areas located in regions of moderate and high seismic hazard in Colombia and attending classes in 24215 rural schools [1]. A large number of these schools are unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings that do not comply with minimum earthquake-resistant requirements or recent construction standards as they were built before these were enforced. Past earthquakes, such as the one in Popayán in 1983 and in the Coffee Growth Area in 1999, resulted in damage of a large percentage of similar URM buildings. Retrofitting each of these schools is a great challenge due to the associated costs related to the lack of common strengthening materials (e.g. steel, FRP) and qualified labor in rural areas. The main aim of this project is to propose a retrofit solution that will improve the structural safety of these buildings using local labor and local and sustainable materials, such as wood and bamboo. The developed retrofit interventions are expected to significantly reduce costs and implementation time, so that it can be applied at large scale across Colombia.
The project will quantify numerically and experimentally the structural efficiency of retrofit schemes for representative URM school buildings. The team will initially prepare a building taxonomy of school buildings in a selected region in Colombia, aiming to identify their main structural characteristics and weaknesses. Then, the seismic response of different selected structural typologies will be evaluated numerically with and without the proposed retrofit technique. Following this, an experimental program will be carried out to validate the efficiency of the retrofit solution on a prototype URM structural element. The application of the retrofitting technique will be documented so it can be used as training material for field application by local engineers and construction workers.
By the end of the project, it is expected to develop a validated methodology for retrofitting masonry school buildings using sustainable materials and local labor. The team from EPFL has vast experience with modelling and testing masonry buildings and will be a technical partner to define the retrofit solution and develop the project. The partners from the different institutions in Colombia will perform the in-situ investigations and the preparation and execution of the experimental campaign.


Proponer estrategias de reforzamiento e intervención de las escuelas rurales en todo Colombia

Expected results

Artículo ISI WOS o Scopus, aceptado (1)
Joven investigador (1)
Semillero específico de investigación (1)
Presentación en congreso nacional o internacional (1)
Metodología para reducir el riesgo sísmico de las escuelas
Short titleSeguridad en escuelas rurales
AcronymSeguridad en escuelas rurales
Effective start/end date1/07/2230/06/23