Resiliency is one of society’s top sustainability challenges, and we believe that poor infrastructure resilience, both physical and natural, undermines communities’ capacity to cope, rebuild, and recover from extreme weather and natural disasters.

The 2016 Global Climate Risk Index showed that between 1995 and 2014 more than 525,000 people died as a direct result of approximately 15,000 extreme weather events. The total amount of losses incurred was over $US 2.97 trillion. The World Bank also estimates that by 2030, there could be 325 million people trapped in poverty and vulnerable to extreme weather events in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia.

Challenge

To improve vulnerable communities’ resiliency against natural hazards through enhanced planning, design and construction targeting community-level infrastructures, while building local awareness, capacities, and partnerships to promote sustainable outcomes.

Goal

Through Bechtel’s 2030 sustainability target to improve the resilience of five million people to natural hazards through our voluntary initiatives, we are committed to working with global partners to build resilient communities, save lives, and help them cope and recover faster, safer, and more sustainably.

Approach

  • Identify countries most affected by natural hazards and assess potential direct (e.g., fatalities and losses) and indirect vulnerability (e.g., water security).
  • Work with communities, NGOs, public agencies, and business to meet the challenge and achieve the goal.
  • Measure and communicate impact.
  • Build a global community of interest and a body of knowledge to empower stakeholders, share information and know-how, and optimize resources to cope, rebuild and recover

Current projects

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Uganda

Bechtel and Engineers Without Borders are working with leaders of the Mikomago community, in Uganda, to provide safe, clean water to more than 1,700 people. Young children walk long distances over steep terrain to collect bacteria-contaminated water from open pits and shallow wells. Volunteers working with the Mikomago Water Committee, and the Mwangwe Rural Development Association are assessing current and future water needs. Together we will develop, design, and build a sustainable water system, which includes a protected deep well and submersible pump.

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Philippines

Bechtel and Conservation International are collaborating on a coastal protection project in the Philippines to demonstrate the potential for natural systems to adapt to the consequences of changes in climate and extreme weather events, and the relevance of setting up grey (classic engineering) and green (ecosystem conservation) infrastructures in order to build resilience into coastal territories and communities especially following typhoons. We are implementing a "green-grey" initiative on several pilot sites of the Municipality of Concepcion (province of Iloilo). This municipality has been weakened significantly by the impacts of Haiyan. The projects aim to encourage the integration of this type of solution into coastal protection policies on a regional, national and international scale.

Ethiopia

Just 200 miles from Addis Ababa, the community of Weledi and the surrounding 18 villages have limited, primitive public sanitation facilities, contributing to health risks for the community and the thousands of visitors to the public market. As part of an Engineers Without Borders team, Bechtel colleagues worked with the village of Weledi to build latrines and handwashing stations at the public marketplace to prevent water-borne illnesses. The sustainable outcomes are notable. The project will impact nearly 10,000 people. The latrines will enable market vendors to keep their stores open longer, increasing their income to support their families. Everyone will have access to cleaner, safer restrooms, as well as knowledge and know-how to prevent illnesses from environmental hazards.

Honduras

Many areas in Central America face extreme weather—hurricanes, floods, and droughts—that affect water quality and safety. With help from Bechtel, Engineers Without Borders, and local partners, nearly 600 villagers in El Sauce, in remote northwest Honduras, will have access to clean water. In 2015, our team designed and upgraded the community’s storage, treatment, and distribution system. Once we’ve completed the improvements, we will train residents to use and maintain the system to ensure it delivers benefits for years to come.