Tajikistan, Mudbrick Homes and Earthquake Insurance
Thousands of people in the Vanch region of Tajikistan are homeless in the wake of Saturday’s magnitude 5.3 earthquake. The quake caused massive damage, even though its size is considered “moderate.” Major damage and/or outright collapse of roughly 1,050 mudbrick homes in the wake of the quake have left 20,000 people without shelter. Two schools and a clinic were also destroyed, and electricity supplies and communications were cut off by the quake. The quake came as the Central Asian nation is approaching its coldest time of the year, with temperatures going down to -20 degrees Celsius.
Mudkbrick structures have been around for millennia – especially in Asia and the Near East, where the earliest evidence of the use of mudbrick dates to 7,000 BCE. A similar structure type to mudbrick is adobe, widely used for hundreds to thousands of years in North Africa, Spain, and the Americas. While one advantage of mudbrick or adobe is that it is relatively cool in the summer and warm in the winter, both are also highly susceptible to seismic damage.
Unfortunately, mudbrick and adobe structures are most commonly found in developing countries, so the most impoverished people are at greatest risk. With worldwide population growth on the rise in seismically active regions, developing countries would do well to follow the example of the Turkish government, which established its Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool (TCIP) in 2000. Earthquake insurance is compulsory in Turkey for all residential buildings that fall within municipal boundaries. Since the establishment of the program, TCIP has provided coverage to more than 2 million households, which makes it the largest insurance program in the country.
TCIP insurance is mandatory, and provides compensation to homeowners without reverting to the government budget. Until sufficient financial resources are accumulated by TCIP, a significant portion of the risk is ceded to international reinsurance markets. To enforce compliance, building and home owners who choose not to carry the required earthquake insurance are not eligible to receive compensation from the government in the event of an earthquake. Also, buyers and sellers must present their insurance policy documents to realty registration offices. The TCIP expects policy sales to continue to increase as the measures are enforced.
Photo credit: Andrew Huckbody (Huckbody Environmental Ltd, http://www.huckbody.co.uk) took the photo above of a mudbrick structure while evaluating the environmental and social effects of construction of what will be the largest hydropower/dam in the world in Tajikistan.
- OH Community
- Web Apps
- About Us
About OpenHazards Bloggers
John Rundle is a Distinguished Professor of Physics and Geology at UC Davis and the Executive Director of the APEC Collaboration for Earthquake Simulations. He chaired the Board of Advisors for the Southern California Earthquake Center from 1994 to 1996. Read John's blog.