Step 3

Construction Environment

To gain an understanding of the regulatory framework, construction management practices and construction technologies within which school infrastructure is planned, designed, built, operated and maintained. 

Normal Condition

At the end of this step, the team should be able to do the following:
a) Get an overview of the regulatory framework, and identify gaps and opportunities to improve it
b) Identify existing construction management approaches and contributing factors that might negatively affect the quality of school infrastructure
c) Identify typical construction practices, time frame, workforce capacity and cultural factors

Module Activity Output
3.1 Regulatory environment  3.1.1. Identify the planning regulation for school location and strengthening opportunities 3.1.1. Identify the planning regulation for school location and need for changes in the reconstruction process
3.1.2. Identify the school building design/construction regulations and strengthening opportunities 

 

3.1.2. Identify the school building design/construction regulations and strengthening opportunities and need for changes in the construction process

3.2 Construction management  3.2.1. Identify procurement and construction management processes 3.2.1. Identify procurement and construction management processes
3.2.2. Evaluate the capacity and capability of stakeholders involved in school design and construction 3.2.2. Evaluate the capacity and capability of stakeholders involved in school design and construction
3.3 Construction technology 3.3.1. Identify typical construction practices and quality of main school building types

3.3.1. Identify typical construction practices and evidence of potential quality issues in affected infrastructure

3.3.2. Review and identify potential school infrastructure design issues 

3.3.2. Review and identify potential design issues in affected infrastructure

 

Local partners and technical expertise

The table below presents a list of suggested local partners and technical expertise required to contribute to or lead the activities of this step.

Key agencies

  • Ministry of Education and any other agency involved in school infrastructure design and construction  
  • Government agency/body in charge of building codes, seismic codes, etc. 
  • Government agency in charge of construction services procurement (if not the Ministry of Education)

Contributing agencies

  • Engineering and architecture professional associations 
  • Engineering faculty from local universities (knowledge of construction practices)

Technical Expertise

  • Senior architect or engineer with large experience in school infrastructure (usually external advisor)
  • Ministry of Education: engineers and architects in charge of school infrastructure design and construction 
  • Ministry of Education: procurement specialist and senior legal advisor

 

Module 3.1. Regulatory environment

Activities under this module focus on understanding the regulatory framework under which school infrastructure is planned, designed, and built.

 

Activity 3.1.1. Identify the planning regulations for school location and strengthening opportunities                                             

The aim of this activity is to gain knowledge of existing school infrastructure location and land use regulations to help identify opportunities to improve the infrastructure’s safety and resilience. From a disaster risk management perspective, the most cost-efficient measure is the integration of risk reduction criteria early in the planning process. In theory, the farther schools are located from hazard-prone areas, the lower their exposure and therefore the lower their risk. Yet this holds true only for certain types of hazards, like landslides, avalanches, or some volcanic eruptions. For hazard events like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods that can affect larger areas in a country, exposure of the population and infrastructure is unavoidable. Planning and land use regulations may include provisions, for example, to limit as much as possible the development, occupation, and location of vital infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, and emergency facilities, in high hazard areas. School planning may also take into account factors such as accessibility of the school, road networks and access to public transportation, and distance to other vital infrastructure. Also important is to review whether land that has been allocated for school infrastructure meets suitability requirements for this purpose. 

Guidance:

Planning regulation for school infrastructure is often defined by legal instruments that are beyond the sphere of influence of the education sector. For this activity, task teams will have to collect and review various instruments, such as land use and urban development plans, environmental regulation, building codes, and cadastral information, that is found under other sectors or departments. Informality in the location and construction of school facilities continues to be a challenge in many developing countries, so task teams should also inquire about the existence of regulations that address land property issues in public infrastructure. This will be important for the plan, since land property issues can become a major bottleneck during implementation.

Regulations that are vital to the plan and require updates may need to be prioritized. Changes in regulations entail discussions with a wide range of government entities and consultations with stakeholders and may require complex and time-consuming administrative and legal procedures. Task teams should identify key regulations that are essential to the plan and promote an environment during the implementation of the RSRS conducive to discussing the gaps and producing recommendations for improvement and next steps. Facilitating technical discussions among key local players and the sharing of international experiences can contribute toward achieving this goal.

This activity is particularly relevant in post-disaster conditions, as schools are frequently relocated during the reconstruction process. In the aftermath of a disaster, it may become apparent that inadequate location of infrastructure and human settlements has led to increased damage. In liquefaction-prone areas, for instance, the loss of bearing capacity of wet sand soil deposits can cause extensive damage during the shaking of an earthquake. In such cases, the use of evidence-based data is essential to identify aspects of the planning regulations that require improvement and to make recommendations accordingly. Decision makers should be informed of and encouraged to support such recommendations, even at the risk of creating a misperception that the progress of reconstruction will be delayed. 

 

Activity 3.1.2. Identify school building design and construction regulations and strengthening opportunities                                             

This activity focuses on gaining knowledge of existing school building design, construction, retrofitting, and maintenance regulations that will help with the identification of opportunities to strengthen planning and the design of interventions in school infrastructure. Improvements to building codes and enforcement mechanisms can contribute to the quality and resilience of infrastructure. In fact, the poor performance of school buildings in hazard events can often be linked to a lack of proper design or problems in the quality of the construction. The purpose of the activity will be to gain an understanding of regulations including not only architectural and engineering provisions for school buildings, but also the requirements for licenses, construction permits, and supervision of the work. 

Guidance:

In general, most of these regulations are derived from building codes. Schools also have sector-related documents that provide the design standards for facilities, as well as guidance on operation and maintenance. As school infrastructure management tends to become more decentralized, this analysis should also consider regulations at a subnational (municipality) level. Additionally, it is important to map all involved agencies and the instruments and mechanisms they use to enforce these codes and provisions.

The main objective of this activity is to understand the evolution over time of building codes (particularly seismic) and of standard designs used for schools. As mentioned under step 1, the use of standard designs in a country can facilitate the diagnosis of a large stock of facilities. By analyzing the evolution of building codes, a correlation can be made between the quality of design and the construction year, as will be exemplified in step 5. The evolution of building codes has been driven by lessons learned from infrastructure failures in past disaster events. Thus, changes in the seismic codes are usually associated with and follow the timeline of historic hazard events. For the task team, understanding these changes provides valuable insight into possible areas for improvement. For further guidance, the team should seek advice from local senior engineers and architects who have been key players and are familiar with this process.

In some countries the lack of regulation in school infrastructure design and construction continues to be a problem. Schools are built with varying standards that are established by external entities, such as donors, or they are built through informal means by the communities themselves (that is, they are nonengineered buildings). In both these cases, the focus of the activity will shift to identifying key players, conditions, and opportunities to develop regulations. Informality is perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to modernizing the construction and management of school infrastructure.

The analysis of existing regulation requires the participation of local specialists and international experts, when possible. The optimization of engineering solutions, which is at the core of implementing solutions at scale, is made possible by using advanced engineering techniques and innovations in technology. Since the use and application of new analytical approaches, modeling techniques, and construction technologies often requires changes in the regulations, it is important to understand the approaches currently in use in the country and to support capacity building to advance this optimization effort. The GPSS promotes the use of innovation to reduce disaster risk in school infrastructure, so any need to update regulations and move forward policy reforms in these areas should be brought to the attention of local specialists and the government entities in charge to see how new technologies and approaches can be incorporated.

Damage assessments provide evidence-based knowledge that can inform the reconstruction plan and updates to the building codes. A dedicated team of specialists is required to gather evidence of the building damage post-disaster and identify the ways in which specific building types fail. The time frame to collect this evidence from the field is very narrow, as rubble removal and reconstruction activities are quick to begin following a hazard event. Local partners, usually academic and research institutions, will be in a position to provide much-needed support to task teams in terms of human and technical capacity. In the aftermath of a disaster, this activity is crucial to push forward informed policy reforms and to ensure vulnerabilities are not recreated during the reconstruction process. 

 

Module 3.2. Construction management

Activities under this module will help task teams to become familiar with the procurement practices under which construction services are contracted and the capacity of relevant players to manage these projects.

 

Activity 3.2.1. Identify procurement and construction management processes               

Under this activity, identifying the existing procurement processes and management practices related to construction services for civil works at the national and subnational levels will help the team understand the delivery and quality of school construction. “Management practices” refers to the role of public or private entities, nongovernmental organizations, or communities in managing construction services. Understanding these processes will give task teams a clear overview of how school construction is managed, and the key players involved at the different levels of government. Results of this activity will be used to inform the implementation strategy (step 8)1.  

Guidance:

Procurement and construction management practices affect three important aspects of construction: cost, delivery time, and the ability to scale up. Construction services for public infrastructure are governed by national procurement and public investment systems, with which intervention and implementation strategies must comply. The cost of implementing interventions will vary, depending on the procurement and management approaches used. Costs to rehabilitate or retrofit school facilities located in remote areas, for example, increase dramatically when procurement and management are centralized. For the implementation strategy, task teams should find the most suitable options to reduce cost inefficiencies. 

School interventions, whether new construction or rehabilitations, must be delivered in a timely manner. Any delays in the implementation of civil works can trigger a backlash from the school community. Furthermore, if this occurs nationwide, the consequences can affect the credibility of the government and lead to social conflict and unrest. 

The school construction environment is complex and requires transparency and accountability mechanisms be put into place. As with other infrastructure, a large amount of resources is involved in the construction of school facilities, as well as a range of players, some of whom may have vested interests in influencing procurement decisions. Regrettably, corruption is still rampant in the realm of school construction in several developing countries. The ultimate result is poor-quality infrastructure, which can lead to great loss of life in hazard events. Task teams must identify areas in need of improvement in the procurement process and construction management practices to ensure proper mechanisms are in place to increase transparency and accountability for those involved.

During the reconstruction process, exceptional procurement measures and construction management practices are often approved to expedite reconstruction activities. As mentioned earlier, governments usually establish a reconstruction agency, which operates within an exceptional legal and administrative framework. An independent procurement and construction management body may be designated to accelerate the pace of reconstruction work and “fast-track” procurement provisions put into place. For task teams, it is essential to understand the scope of these exceptions and procedures to inform the implementation strategy of the reconstruction plan accordingly.

 

Activity 3.2.2. Evaluate the capacity and capability of stakeholders involved in school design and construction

This activity examines institutional capacity, stakeholders’ capability, and the need for capacity strengthening. The evaluation of institutional capacity is to focus on the human and technical capacity and the management capabilities of government entities that have a role in managing the school infrastructure cycle. Included in the assessment are in-house capacity (for example, the number of staff members, their profiles and fields of expertise, training opportunities, and experience), along with the availability of other resources, such as information and communication technologies, protocols, and monitoring and reporting systems. The evaluation applies to local governments in the education sectors of decentralized countries.

Guidance: 

The demand of their day-to-day activities and the implementation of the RSRS can strain the capacity of government agencies. While governments with high in-house capacity can go through each step of the roadmap with limited external support, those with limited capacity may not be able to implement it fully on their own and will require additional human, technical, and financial support. For the implementation of the plan, task teams need to identify key areas related to the capacity and capability of stakeholders that require strengthening. 

Private architecture and engineering firms as well as universities may provide additional technical capacity and support to infrastructure managers. The participation of the private sector in school construction is another indicator of local firms’ capacity. Countries that have transparent procurement systems and are open to the private sector’s participation create a competitive environment that provides incentive for and promotes the provision of high-quality construction services. And as the topic of safer and resilient schools draws attention from academic institutions, task teams should also seek support from local universities and researchers interested in this area and learn about their work and their collaboration (if any) with their government’s education sector. The participation of students in the diagnosis and analysis phases, for example, has proved an effective motivator to encourage interest in the safer schools agenda by a future generation of professionals.  

Informal school construction activities shouldn’t be counted for the purpose of this activity.  Informality affects negatively the quality of the infrastructure and, therefore, increases vulnerability factors. The role of communities in managing school infrastructure varies across developing countries. Unfortunately, there are still cases in which communities are actively involved in school construction activities. Although there is no one way to approach the matter, a clear distinction must be made between the options for community engagement around schools and construction services governed by engineering practices.

As reconstruction following a disaster strains the government’s capacity for implementation, the results of this activity provide essential information for defining the intervention strategy. The analysis of stakeholder capacity serves two purposes: it ensures consistency between the reconstruction intervention strategy and the local technical capacity in place, and it identifies the need to include a capacity-building component in the reconstruction plan. Since capacity building is essentially a medium- to long-term undertaking, the choice of engineering solutions for reconstruction should rely, to the extent possible, on existing capacity; otherwise, external support will be required.

 

Module 3.3. Construction technology

Activities under this module look at quality flaws in local construction practices and design activities.

 

Activity 3.3.1. Identify typical construction practices and quality of main school building types

This activity focuses on identifying any quality issues related to local construction practices. Information needs to be gathered about known and recurring construction quality issues that may relate to specific building types, construction years and regions identified within the country where this problem may be concentrated. 

Guidance:

Issues with the quality of construction may originate from poor-quality materials, low standards of workmanship, lack of supervision and quality control, and/or poor implementation capacity. We see more issues with the application of building codes in rural than in urban areas. Overcoming these issues should be at the core of the plan’s intervention strategy (step 6); otherwise, neither interventions nor investments make sense. The analysis of historic construction practices and evidence (if any) of construction quality issues will also provide inputs for the vulnerability analysis in step 5.

Official building inspection records are a valuable source of information. Construction services are normally subject to permit and inspection procedures by local authorities. Thus, technical documents are generated and preserved as official records. Getting access to these documents is an efficient way to become familiar with enforcement procedures while learning about quality issues. It is useful to inquire about architectural and engineering drawings of representative school building types. If they are not available, field activities should be conducted to gather this information.

The introduction of new technologies for solutions at scale should take into consideration and be aligned with prevailing construction practices in the country. The market for construction technologies for school buildings is growing globally. Innovative solutions bring many advantages, such as improved delivery time or energy and cost efficiency. While these advantages are desirable for large-scale interventions, their introduction must be conditioned by the local construction market, workmanship, and maintenance practices.  

Making changes to community construction practices in rural and remote areas remains a challenge for the reconstruction process. Addressing quality issues in the reconstruction of schools in remote rural areas usually entails changes in local construction practices. As this is a long-term effort, it is not realistic to expect outcomes within the reconstruction time frame using local services. For this reason, reconstruction managers prefer to hire services from external firms. In very remote areas, however, the reconstruction may take years, which may compel communities to begin reconstruction themselves. If this is so, task teams should look for local nongovernmental organizations and engineers to conduct the diagnosis and make recommendations to be included in the reconstruction plan.

 

Activity 3.3.2. Review and identify potential school infrastructure design issues

The purpose of this activity is to determine whether widespread design flaws exist in school infrastructure. Design issues refer to a certain lack of quality or inability to meet acceptable standards, compromising school building performance. There are two types of design issues: building code deficiencies and designers’ poor execution. Since the former has been partially covered in a previous activity, this activity will concentrate on the evaluation of design quality for specific index buildings. 

Guidance:

This specialized task requires the participation of local experts. Key recommendations will be made and capacity building needs defined through their analyses. High-quality design is one of the parameters listed in the GLOSI classification and is directly linked to the results of this activity.

When standard designs are applied across a large stock of school facilities, any design flaw is replicated to thousands of buildings. In interventions carried out at scale, the impact of design issues is amplified by the thousands, and solutions are bound to be as expensive as they are complex. The short-column issue 2 illustrates this point: while it is technically simple to avoid this structural issue at the design and construction stages, corrective interventions to solve it are expensive and complicated to implement at scale. Clearly, this evaluation is particularly relevant to designs of new school buildings. 

Throughout the implementation of the RSRS, the task teams can facilitate discussions among local experts through workshops. International experts can contribute knowledge when necessary, but local experts, in coordination with the government, should steer the conversation. 
The analysis of the ways in which affected school buildings fail in disaster events points to potential design issues. As previously stated, the analysis of evidence related to building type performance should influence the design of reconstruction interventions. We stress this basic principle because it is not common practice in the context of reconstruction.

 

Output

The completion of activities under each module will result in one or more output(s). For post-disaster conditions, the arrows in the chart below highlight the additional information that should be included in the output. 
 

Module     Output(s)
3.1.Regulatory environment 
  • Report: Analysis of the regulatory framework and need for improvement in light of the plan’s implementation

Report: Analysis of the regulatory framework and need for improvement in light of the recovery and reconstruction process

3.2.Construction management 
  • Report: Mapping of construction management practices and stakeholder capacity, and recommendations to overcome existing weaknesses/gaps

Include a definition of a construction management model for reconstruction

3.3.Construction technology
  • Report: Summary of construction practices, analysis of effects on the quality of school buildings, and recommendations

Include analysis focusing on the effects of construction practices on the quality of reconstruction work

 

1 Examples of how to map procurement and construction management arrangements and the roles of all stakeholders involved and their interdependencies are provided in Serge Theunynck, School Construction Strategies for Universal Primary Education in Africa (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009). 

2 A column with a ratio effective length to its least lateral dimension smaller than 12 is usually considered as a short column. Due to its geometry characteristics, under earthquake load, this type of column tends to fail in a dangerous shear brittle failure mode instead of introducing relatively safer ductile yielding from the bending deformation. Short columns are usually generated when infill walls are not full-story height and not isolated from the columns.

Post-disaster Condition

At the end of this step, the team should be able to do the following:
a) Get an overview of the regulatory framework and identify needs for updates in the reconstruction process
b) Identify existing construction management approaches and contributing factors that might negatively affect the quality of reconstruction works
c) Identify typical construction practices, workforce capacity and cultural factors

Module Activity Output
3.1 Regulatory environment  3.1.1. Identify the planning regulation for school location and strengthening opportunities 3.1.1. Identify the planning regulation for school location and need for changes in the reconstruction process
3.1.2. Identify the school building design/construction regulations and strengthening opportunities 

 

3.1.2. Identify the school building design/construction regulations and strengthening opportunities and need for changes in the construction process

3.2 Construction management  3.2.1. Identify procurement and construction management processes 3.2.1. Identify procurement and construction management processes
3.2.2. Evaluate the capacity and capability of stakeholders involved in school design and construction 3.2.2. Evaluate the capacity and capability of stakeholders involved in school design and construction
3.3 Construction technology 3.3.1. Identify typical construction practices and quality of main school building types

3.3.1. Identify typical construction practices and evidence of potential quality issues in affected infrastructure

3.3.2. Review and identify potential school infrastructure design issues 

3.3.2. Review and identify potential design issues in affected infrastructure

Local partners and technical expertise

The table below presents a list of suggested local partners and technical expertise required to contribute to or lead the activities of this step.

Key agencies

  • Ministry of Education and any other agency involved in school infrastructure design and construction  
  • Government agency/body in charge of building codes, seismic codes, etc. 
  • Government agency in charge of construction services procurement (if not the Ministry of Education)

Contributing agencies

  • Engineering and architecture professional associations 
  • Engineering faculty from local universities (knowledge of construction practices)

Technical Expertise

  • Senior architect or engineer with large experience in school infrastructure (usually external advisor)
  • Ministry of Education: engineers and architects in charge of school infrastructure design and construction 
  • Ministry of Education: procurement specialist and senior legal advisor

 

Module 3.1. Regulatory environment

Activities under this module focus on understanding the regulatory framework under which school infrastructure is planned, designed, and built.

 

Activity 3.1.1. Identify the planning regulations for school location and strengthening opportunities                                             

The aim of this activity is to gain knowledge of existing school infrastructure location and land use regulations to help identify opportunities to improve the infrastructure’s safety and resilience. From a disaster risk management perspective, the most cost-efficient measure is the integration of risk reduction criteria early in the planning process. In theory, the farther schools are located from hazard-prone areas, the lower their exposure and therefore the lower their risk. Yet this holds true only for certain types of hazards, like landslides, avalanches, or some volcanic eruptions. For hazard events like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods that can affect larger areas in a country, exposure of the population and infrastructure is unavoidable. Planning and land use regulations may include provisions, for example, to limit as much as possible the development, occupation, and location of vital infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, and emergency facilities, in high hazard areas. School planning may also take into account factors such as accessibility of the school, road networks and access to public transportation, and distance to other vital infrastructure. Also important is to review whether land that has been allocated for school infrastructure meets suitability requirements for this purpose. 

Guidance:

Planning regulation for school infrastructure is often defined by legal instruments that are beyond the sphere of influence of the education sector. For this activity, task teams will have to collect and review various instruments, such as land use and urban development plans, environmental regulation, building codes, and cadastral information, that is found under other sectors or departments. Informality in the location and construction of school facilities continues to be a challenge in many developing countries, so task teams should also inquire about the existence of regulations that address land property issues in public infrastructure. This will be important for the plan, since land property issues can become a major bottleneck during implementation.

Regulations that are vital to the plan and require updates may need to be prioritized. Changes in regulations entail discussions with a wide range of government entities and consultations with stakeholders and may require complex and time-consuming administrative and legal procedures. Task teams should identify key regulations that are essential to the plan and promote an environment during the implementation of the RSRS conducive to discussing the gaps and producing recommendations for improvement and next steps. Facilitating technical discussions among key local players and the sharing of international experiences can contribute toward achieving this goal.

This activity is particularly relevant in post-disaster conditions, as schools are frequently relocated during the reconstruction process. In the aftermath of a disaster, it may become apparent that inadequate location of infrastructure and human settlements has led to increased damage. In liquefaction-prone areas, for instance, the loss of bearing capacity of wet sand soil deposits can cause extensive damage during the shaking of an earthquake. In such cases, the use of evidence-based data is essential to identify aspects of the planning regulations that require improvement and to make recommendations accordingly. Decision makers should be informed of and encouraged to support such recommendations, even at the risk of creating a misperception that the progress of reconstruction will be delayed. 

 

Activity 3.1.2. Identify school building design and construction regulations and strengthening opportunities                                             

This activity focuses on gaining knowledge of existing school building design, construction, retrofitting, and maintenance regulations that will help with the identification of opportunities to strengthen planning and the design of interventions in school infrastructure. Improvements to building codes and enforcement mechanisms can contribute to the quality and resilience of infrastructure. In fact, the poor performance of school buildings in hazard events can often be linked to a lack of proper design or problems in the quality of the construction. The purpose of the activity will be to gain an understanding of regulations including not only architectural and engineering provisions for school buildings, but also the requirements for licenses, construction permits, and supervision of the work. 

Guidance:

In general, most of these regulations are derived from building codes. Schools also have sector-related documents that provide the design standards for facilities, as well as guidance on operation and maintenance. As school infrastructure management tends to become more decentralized, this analysis should also consider regulations at a subnational (municipality) level. Additionally, it is important to map all involved agencies and the instruments and mechanisms they use to enforce these codes and provisions.

The main objective of this activity is to understand the evolution over time of building codes (particularly seismic) and of standard designs used for schools. As mentioned under step 1, the use of standard designs in a country can facilitate the diagnosis of a large stock of facilities. By analyzing the evolution of building codes, a correlation can be made between the quality of design and the construction year, as will be exemplified in step 5. The evolution of building codes has been driven by lessons learned from infrastructure failures in past disaster events. Thus, changes in the seismic codes are usually associated with and follow the timeline of historic hazard events. For the task team, understanding these changes provides valuable insight into possible areas for improvement. For further guidance, the team should seek advice from local senior engineers and architects who have been key players and are familiar with this process.

In some countries the lack of regulation in school infrastructure design and construction continues to be a problem. Schools are built with varying standards that are established by external entities, such as donors, or they are built through informal means by the communities themselves (that is, they are nonengineered buildings). In both these cases, the focus of the activity will shift to identifying key players, conditions, and opportunities to develop regulations. Informality is perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to modernizing the construction and management of school infrastructure.

The analysis of existing regulation requires the participation of local specialists and international experts, when possible. The optimization of engineering solutions, which is at the core of implementing solutions at scale, is made possible by using advanced engineering techniques and innovations in technology. Since the use and application of new analytical approaches, modeling techniques, and construction technologies often requires changes in the regulations, it is important to understand the approaches currently in use in the country and to support capacity building to advance this optimization effort. The GPSS promotes the use of innovation to reduce disaster risk in school infrastructure, so any need to update regulations and move forward policy reforms in these areas should be brought to the attention of local specialists and the government entities in charge to see how new technologies and approaches can be incorporated.

Damage assessments provide evidence-based knowledge that can inform the reconstruction plan and updates to the building codes. A dedicated team of specialists is required to gather evidence of the building damage post-disaster and identify the ways in which specific building types fail. The time frame to collect this evidence from the field is very narrow, as rubble removal and reconstruction activities are quick to begin following a hazard event. Local partners, usually academic and research institutions, will be in a position to provide much-needed support to task teams in terms of human and technical capacity. In the aftermath of a disaster, this activity is crucial to push forward informed policy reforms and to ensure vulnerabilities are not recreated during the reconstruction process. 

 

Module 3.2. Construction management

Activities under this module will help task teams to become familiar with the procurement practices under which construction services are contracted and the capacity of relevant players to manage these projects.

 

Activity 3.2.1. Identify procurement and construction management processes               

Under this activity, identifying the existing procurement processes and management practices related to construction services for civil works at the national and subnational levels will help the team understand the delivery and quality of school construction. “Management practices” refers to the role of public or private entities, nongovernmental organizations, or communities in managing construction services. Understanding these processes will give task teams a clear overview of how school construction is managed, and the key players involved at the different levels of government. Results of this activity will be used to inform the implementation strategy (step 8)1.  

Guidance:

Procurement and construction management practices affect three important aspects of construction: cost, delivery time, and the ability to scale up. Construction services for public infrastructure are governed by national procurement and public investment systems, with which intervention and implementation strategies must comply. The cost of implementing interventions will vary, depending on the procurement and management approaches used. Costs to rehabilitate or retrofit school facilities located in remote areas, for example, increase dramatically when procurement and management are centralized. For the implementation strategy, task teams should find the most suitable options to reduce cost inefficiencies. 

School interventions, whether new construction or rehabilitations, must be delivered in a timely manner. Any delays in the implementation of civil works can trigger a backlash from the school community. Furthermore, if this occurs nationwide, the consequences can affect the credibility of the government and lead to social conflict and unrest. 

The school construction environment is complex and requires transparency and accountability mechanisms be put into place. As with other infrastructure, a large amount of resources is involved in the construction of school facilities, as well as a range of players, some of whom may have vested interests in influencing procurement decisions. Regrettably, corruption is still rampant in the realm of school construction in several developing countries. The ultimate result is poor-quality infrastructure, which can lead to great loss of life in hazard events. Task teams must identify areas in need of improvement in the procurement process and construction management practices to ensure proper mechanisms are in place to increase transparency and accountability for those involved.

During the reconstruction process, exceptional procurement measures and construction management practices are often approved to expedite reconstruction activities. As mentioned earlier, governments usually establish a reconstruction agency, which operates within an exceptional legal and administrative framework. An independent procurement and construction management body may be designated to accelerate the pace of reconstruction work and “fast-track” procurement provisions put into place. For task teams, it is essential to understand the scope of these exceptions and procedures to inform the implementation strategy of the reconstruction plan accordingly.

 

Activity 3.2.2. Evaluate the capacity and capability of stakeholders involved in school design and construction

This activity examines institutional capacity, stakeholders’ capability, and the need for capacity strengthening. The evaluation of institutional capacity is to focus on the human and technical capacity and the management capabilities of government entities that have a role in managing the school infrastructure cycle. Included in the assessment are in-house capacity (for example, the number of staff members, their profiles and fields of expertise, training opportunities, and experience), along with the availability of other resources, such as information and communication technologies, protocols, and monitoring and reporting systems. The evaluation applies to local governments in the education sectors of decentralized countries.

Guidance: 

The demand of their day-to-day activities and the implementation of the RSRS can strain the capacity of government agencies. While governments with high in-house capacity can go through each step of the roadmap with limited external support, those with limited capacity may not be able to implement it fully on their own and will require additional human, technical, and financial support. For the implementation of the plan, task teams need to identify key areas related to the capacity and capability of stakeholders that require strengthening. 

Private architecture and engineering firms as well as universities may provide additional technical capacity and support to infrastructure managers. The participation of the private sector in school construction is another indicator of local firms’ capacity. Countries that have transparent procurement systems and are open to the private sector’s participation create a competitive environment that provides incentive for and promotes the provision of high-quality construction services. And as the topic of safer and resilient schools draws attention from academic institutions, task teams should also seek support from local universities and researchers interested in this area and learn about their work and their collaboration (if any) with their government’s education sector. The participation of students in the diagnosis and analysis phases, for example, has proved an effective motivator to encourage interest in the safer schools agenda by a future generation of professionals.  

Informal school construction activities shouldn’t be counted for the purpose of this activity.  Informality affects negatively the quality of the infrastructure and, therefore, increases vulnerability factors. The role of communities in managing school infrastructure varies across developing countries. Unfortunately, there are still cases in which communities are actively involved in school construction activities. Although there is no one way to approach the matter, a clear distinction must be made between the options for community engagement around schools and construction services governed by engineering practices.

As reconstruction following a disaster strains the government’s capacity for implementation, the results of this activity provide essential information for defining the intervention strategy. The analysis of stakeholder capacity serves two purposes: it ensures consistency between the reconstruction intervention strategy and the local technical capacity in place, and it identifies the need to include a capacity-building component in the reconstruction plan. Since capacity building is essentially a medium- to long-term undertaking, the choice of engineering solutions for reconstruction should rely, to the extent possible, on existing capacity; otherwise, external support will be required.

 

Module 3.3. Construction technology

Activities under this module look at quality flaws in local construction practices and design activities.

 

Activity 3.3.1. Identify typical construction practices and quality of main school building types

This activity focuses on identifying any quality issues related to local construction practices. Information needs to be gathered about known and recurring construction quality issues that may relate to specific building types, construction years and regions identified within the country where this problem may be concentrated. 

Guidance:

Issues with the quality of construction may originate from poor-quality materials, low standards of workmanship, lack of supervision and quality control, and/or poor implementation capacity. We see more issues with the application of building codes in rural than in urban areas. Overcoming these issues should be at the core of the plan’s intervention strategy (step 6); otherwise, neither interventions nor investments make sense. The analysis of historic construction practices and evidence (if any) of construction quality issues will also provide inputs for the vulnerability analysis in step 5.

Official building inspection records are a valuable source of information. Construction services are normally subject to permit and inspection procedures by local authorities. Thus, technical documents are generated and preserved as official records. Getting access to these documents is an efficient way to become familiar with enforcement procedures while learning about quality issues. It is useful to inquire about architectural and engineering drawings of representative school building types. If they are not available, field activities should be conducted to gather this information.

The introduction of new technologies for solutions at scale should take into consideration and be aligned with prevailing construction practices in the country. The market for construction technologies for school buildings is growing globally. Innovative solutions bring many advantages, such as improved delivery time or energy and cost efficiency. While these advantages are desirable for large-scale interventions, their introduction must be conditioned by the local construction market, workmanship, and maintenance practices.  

Making changes to community construction practices in rural and remote areas remains a challenge for the reconstruction process. Addressing quality issues in the reconstruction of schools in remote rural areas usually entails changes in local construction practices. As this is a long-term effort, it is not realistic to expect outcomes within the reconstruction time frame using local services. For this reason, reconstruction managers prefer to hire services from external firms. In very remote areas, however, the reconstruction may take years, which may compel communities to begin reconstruction themselves. If this is so, task teams should look for local nongovernmental organizations and engineers to conduct the diagnosis and make recommendations to be included in the reconstruction plan.

 

Activity 3.3.2. Review and identify potential school infrastructure design issues

The purpose of this activity is to determine whether widespread design flaws exist in school infrastructure. Design issues refer to a certain lack of quality or inability to meet acceptable standards, compromising school building performance. There are two types of design issues: building code deficiencies and designers’ poor execution. Since the former has been partially covered in a previous activity, this activity will concentrate on the evaluation of design quality for specific index buildings. 

Guidance:

This specialized task requires the participation of local experts. Key recommendations will be made and capacity building needs defined through their analyses. High-quality design is one of the parameters listed in the GLOSI classification and is directly linked to the results of this activity.

When standard designs are applied across a large stock of school facilities, any design flaw is replicated to thousands of buildings. In interventions carried out at scale, the impact of design issues is amplified by the thousands, and solutions are bound to be as expensive as they are complex. The short-column issue 2 illustrates this point: while it is technically simple to avoid this structural issue at the design and construction stages, corrective interventions to solve it are expensive and complicated to implement at scale. Clearly, this evaluation is particularly relevant to designs of new school buildings. 

Throughout the implementation of the RSRS, the task teams can facilitate discussions among local experts through workshops. International experts can contribute knowledge when necessary, but local experts, in coordination with the government, should steer the conversation. 
The analysis of the ways in which affected school buildings fail in disaster events points to potential design issues. As previously stated, the analysis of evidence related to building type performance should influence the design of reconstruction interventions. We stress this basic principle because it is not common practice in the context of reconstruction.

 

Output

The completion of activities under each module will result in one or more output(s). For post-disaster conditions, the arrows in the chart below highlight the additional information that should be included in the output. 
 

Module     Output(s)
3.1.Regulatory environment 
  • Report: Analysis of the regulatory framework and need for improvement in light of the plan’s implementation

Report: Analysis of the regulatory framework and need for improvement in light of the recovery and reconstruction process

3.2.Construction management 
  • Report: Mapping of construction management practices and stakeholder capacity, and recommendations to overcome existing weaknesses/gaps

Include a definition of a construction management model for reconstruction

3.3.Construction technology
  • Report: Summary of construction practices, analysis of effects on the quality of school buildings, and recommendations

Include analysis focusing on the effects of construction practices on the quality of reconstruction work

 

1 Examples of how to map procurement and construction management arrangements and the roles of all stakeholders involved and their interdependencies are provided in Serge Theunynck, School Construction Strategies for Universal Primary Education in Africa (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009). 

2 A column with a ratio effective length to its least lateral dimension smaller than 12 is usually considered as a short column. Due to its geometry characteristics, under earthquake load, this type of column tends to fail in a dangerous shear brittle failure mode instead of introducing relatively safer ductile yielding from the bending deformation. Short columns are usually generated when infill walls are not full-story height and not isolated from the columns.