In 2015, the Xavier University Engineering Resource Center (XUERC), in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd - Region 10), conducted a rapid structural assessment study of more than 200 school buildings in the nine Central Schools of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. The XUERC team used widely accepted methodologies that were tailored to the Philippine setting by structural engineering experts from the De La Salle University – Civil Engineering Department (DLSU).
Results show that more than half of the existing buildings, many of which are built before the seismic provisions of the current structural code were updated, may be at risk when exposed to large earthquake events. This means that a more detailed review of both the structural and functional systems of the schools is highly recommended.
To this aim, the Earthquake and People Interaction Centre (EPICentre)* at the University College London in the United Kingdom, DLSU and XUERC are collaborating through personnel, sharing expertise and technologies for an 8-month joint research project on: “Safer COmmunities thrOugh Safer SchOols” (SCOSSO) in Cagayan de Oro City.
The main aim of SCOSSO is to develop an innovative, advanced, multi-hazard risk assessment framework for school infrastructures in the Philippines. In order to achieve this, the following objectives are proposed: a) Assess the impact of earthquakes, typhoons and flood on school buildings through new analytical and empirical vulnerability models; b) Investigate the enhancement of the multi-hazard resilience of schools through retrofitting of school buildings and disaster risk reduction education; c) Disseminate a culture of safe schools and safe communities through demonstration of school retrofitting, training of local engineers, community/regional workshops, and educational campaigns; d) Develop practical tools for multi-hazards impact assessment and demonstrate their capabilities by applying them to the case study of Cagayan de Oro.
The project is funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) small grants scheme.
*EPICentre is a multidisciplinary research group that investigates the risk to society and infrastructure from earthquakes and other natural hazards. EPICentre has been conducting disaster-related projects all over the world, working closely with industry, local government units and universities.