Temporary sheltering areas in case of earthquakes: engineering design, implementation and policy experiences. The case of Quito – Ecuador

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper aims to present implementation of temporary sheltering areas (TSAs), in case of earthquakes for Quito, as a low-cost mitigation project in developing countries. Four pilot TSAs were built and a limited communication effort was implemented by municipality. Years after, effectiveness of the project was evaluated. Design/methodology/approach: TSA locations were chosen considering technical aspects, using a weighted decision matrix through an analytical hierarchy process defined with private and public sector professionals. Four pilot TSAs were built and information about them was spread including a hazard signage program targeted to the population. Findings: After a year, communication effort conceived by the municipality ended, decision-makers changed and a M5.1 local earthquake hit the city, causing few casualties and structural damage. Population and municipality officials had forgotten about the project. TSA facilities were out of service. Four years later, authorities changed again, TSA changed their use, hazard signage program was abandoned and population was completely unaware about the project. Practical implications: TSA project is a suitable low-cost disaster management initiative for developing countries. However, if a sustainable communication is not performed, suitable mitigation projects could be ineffective in time. Originality/value: This paper demonstrates how to implement TSAs in cities with limited resources and following a rational decision procedure. It remarks benefits and mistakes detected years after that could improve decisions in similar preparedness initiatives against earthquakes in other developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-668
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment
Issue number5
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2023


  • Earthquake preparedness
  • Risk policy
  • Seismic design and vulnerability
  • Temporary sheltering areas


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