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Iran’s disaster proneness
Based on the report by UNDP in 2000, Iran is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. Natural catastrophes such as flood, storm, land slide, and above all, earthquake have yearly threats for many of Iran’s habitation regions.
Iran’s vulnerability against earthquake
In Iran, every 5 to 7 years, we are faced with earthquakes in magnitude of 6 to 7 – sometimes even larger – in Richter scale. Geological studies show that about 97 percent of our country’s cities and villages are faced with earthquake threats.
Housing Foundation and Its Role in Reconstruction and Improvement of Vulnerable Residences
Considering Housing Foundation’s legal responsibility to reconstruct and renovate the vulnerable residential units, the policy of prevention before disaster (improvement and renovation of rural vulnerable residences), as well as, reconstruction of disaster stricken regions after the occurrence of disaster, are two of our major responsibilities.
Rural Housing
Rural residence is a body influenced by many factors such as natural, ecological, social, and economic ones, having been shaped through long periods of time, which embodies the everyday living and welfare of its residents. The role of rural residence in economic, social, and cultural development, especially its role in creating employment, makes the necessity of increasing residential and educational units, as well as their organizing, technical and professional development, etc., of great importance. And also, achieving rural development, as an important element of country’s economic body, makes it necessary to pay special attention to rural residence.
Rural Housing Improvement Plan
Rural Housing Improvement Plan was initiated in 1374 (1995) by HFIR with the aim of improving housing quality and rural structure, as well as, enhancing the level of safety, sanitation, welfare and comfort of villagers’ residences. This, along with providing facilities and infrastructures, could have the capability of creating the sense of belonging to the place, maintaining family population concentration, improving the building appearance and strengthening structures, and thus, improving the life style in our villages. However, this task was faced with so many bureaucratic and execution ups and downs that despite all the efforts made during the years 74-84, only 224,674 rural residential units were improved. Therefore, in order to speed up the process of changing low enduring buildings into strong ones, a serious effective plan was made to make the best use of other organizations’ and government departments’ aid and cooperation in making rural residential units safe and renovated in the most possible proper way.
Executive structure of the plan:
People’s role
• Managing construction process
• Monitoring the process
• Taking part in plan preparation and decision making
• Selecting the plan and construction method
• Technical supervision (Rural Technical System)
Government’s role
Empowering people through:
• Provision of low-interest mortgage loans
• Provision of technical guidance
• Preparation of the needed plans
Charter of Goals in the Rural Housing’s Special Plan:
Article 1: Constructing strong and endurable rural residences
Article 2: Attempt to maintain local architectural identity of rural residence
Article 3: Providing for aesthetic aspect of villages
Article 4: Providing proper residential units in accordance with rural needs
Article 5: Establishing green rural residence
Article 6: Changing rural environment from, a unsanitary, vulnerable, decaying one to a lively, fresh, attractive and pretty environment to prevent the desire to migrate
Article 7: Adjusting the rural residence’s physique with today’s living (constructing rural houses adjusted to contemporary life style)
Article 8: Moving from “providing roof over villager’s head” attitude to “providing residence for villager” attitude
Article 9: Enhancing the development of rural residences and attempt to closing the gap between urban and rural use of comfort and welfare
Article 10: Working toward optimizing energy usage in rural residence
Article 11: Enhancing capability and speed of execution of rural physical and developmental plans
Article 12: Providing sanitation and health in villages through constructing sanitary rural houses
Article 13: Working toward minimizing destructive effects of blind imitation of unsuited metropolitan appearances in building rural residences
Article 14: Creating momentum in rural residence construction cycle
Article 15: Promoting selected and outstanding rural architectural forms with regard to the style and aesthetic aspects of village’s view
Article 16: Promoting insurance culture and establishing the needed grounds for insuring the constructed rural housing units
Highlights of Activities Performed in Executing the Special Plan of Renovating and Improving Rural Housing
1) Establishing, organizing and strengthening of Rural Technical Institute for supervising construction of residential units
Since Iran lies right over the Alpide Earthquake Belt, and considering earthquake hapennings of recent years in the country, it can be said that most of our villagers are faced with danger of earthquake. Therefore, villagers’ safety depends on residences being strong enough to withstand this natural danger. Thus, the establishment of a monitoring system for controlling construction of rural residential buildings with the aim of obtaining houses relatively strong against earthquake is of great importance. Considering the importance of rural housing in country’s growth and development, the issue of having a construction plan based on proper principles and supervision must not be overlooked. “Rural Technical Institute” program was established for reaching this important goal and started in 1382 (2003) in all of the provinces giving coverage to all rural regions.
Goals of Rural Technical Institute:
1. Promoting technical principles in construction, and enhancing public awareness;
2. Guiding physical structure of villages and improving rural;environment and habitats according to Rural Guidance Plans.
3. Enhancing the quality of rural construction;
4. Proper use of endurable and standard materials;
5. Identifying, employing and organizing local work force potent in rural construction art, and enhancing the level of technical and executive knowledge of monitors through theoretical and practical education.
2) Establishment of technical and engineering offices in rural areas and villages
Technical and engineering offices were established throughout country to centralize designing, supervision and controlling rural construction activities
3) Establishment of technical and engineering offices in rural areas and villages3) Provision of effective research and study in line with performance of long term policies of rural housing
In order to enhance technical and practical knowledge and provision of basic information and theoretical bases in reconstruction and rural housing sub-branches, research – study and education – promotion are two principle pillars of Reconstruction and Rural Housing Deputy office’s activity. The ultimate aim of this department from this process is:
1. Gaining the highest techniques and methods of reconstruction and construction of rural housing for creating safety and comfort for villagers;
2. Establishing and up-to-dating the most centralized data base on rural housing reconstruction and construction study and research;
3. Establishing a comprehensive statistic and data base in the field of rural housing reconstruction and construction using information and communication technology (ICT) and Geographical information systems (GIS).
4) Preparing Study Reports on Various Kinds of Rural Housing
5. Serious Activity by Provincial Mother Councils for Presenting Design Patterns Suited to Social, Cultural, and Climatic Conditions
Following approval of the Special Plan for improvement and renovation of rural housing, attention to identity and endurance of rural housing was put on schedule. In order to save and restore the architectural identity of country’s villages, as well as, fulfilling the needs created by modern condition, 30 councils started their activity in different provinces to present rural architectural patterns according to situation, geographical, social, economic, cultural, … conditions of each province. After much library and field studies, the regulations and standards of designing patterns fit to each rural region’s climate, welfare, culture, etc., would be drawn and given to technical and engineering offices.
6. Provision of Executive Software
Considering the heavy load of operations and circulation of information in the Special Plan, and the necessity for preciseness and swiftness in action, making use of computer capabilities was unavoidable. Thus, in order to enhance the efficiency rate and eliminate human errors, some software was picked and purchased, including: • Rural housing improvement software for facilitating applicant registration and collecting comprehensive data on plan performance; • Housing descriptive – positional information management software (Geographical Information Systems – GIS) which manages the information on risks and natural events, data and maps of earthquake intensity, access roads, condition of rural residential units, spread of country’s construction material manufacturing mills, country’s political divisions, past data on population census, data on villages that the guidance plan has been executed in them - including all the features of the plan, and information on rural ownership documents.
7. Preparation of comprehensive education program for local experts and technical supervisors
Some of the titles in this education programs are: identifying land and soil; and related tests; familiarity with different maps and how to lay them down, distinguishing various foundations, walls, wind barriers and how to implement them; how to implement different joints (steel and cement), various openers, and doorway horseshoe; importance of ceilings and roofs and how to join them to pillars; being familiar with local construction material, ways of decreasing energy use in the building, guidance and physical plans of villages (design and implementation), various types and characteristics of rural housing; and learning about procedures of issuing rural construction permit, … .
Policies and Principles of Housing Reconstruction
• People’s construction management and cooperation policies;
• Financial policies;
• Construction technology policies;
• Policies related to construction materials and manufacturing them;
• Organizational policies of reconstruction;
• Designing and planning policies;
People’s construction management and cooperation policies
People’s role:
Managing construction, monitoring and control, cooperation in provision of plan and decision making, choosing and ….
Government’s role:
Empowering people through: Giving gratuitous and compensatory loans, technical guidance, providing needed plans, giving necessary support in providing resources, supporting the vulnerable class.
Financial policies:
• Minimizing government investment in housing section,
• State investment in infrastructural and public services section,
• Presenting Banking facilities with low interest and commission rates.
Construction technology policies:
• Quality enhancement of residential units environmental structure comparing the situation before the disaster;

• Adopting methods of construction technique coordinated with firstly the principle of self-sufficiency at local level, and secondly, at national level;
• Providing design and execution regulations and recommendations through modeling and control and guiding people towards qualitative enhancement of housing construction.
Policies related to construction materials and manufacturing them;
• Paying attention to following points in selection of construction materials for reconstruction of damaged residential units:
o Raw materials for manufacturing construction materials be locally available;
o The technology for transforming raw to finished materials not be specially complex;
o Materials be economical;
o Be possible for the local people to participate in the work;
o Provision of the material should be concordant with and harmless to the environment.
• Increasing manufacture of construction materials and taking part in its distribution management in order to control the market to prevent creation of black market through:
o Help in rehabilitation of construction material’s damaged industry;
o Help in establishing local construction material manufacturing units;
o Fixing and controlling prices of materials in the market.