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Student project helps disaster struck communities

An engineering student is leading a pioneering new project to help communities in the Philippines build resilient and sustainable housing made from bamboo.

According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, the Philippines has consistently ranked in the top five most disaster-hit countries – along with China, the United States, India and Indonesia.

Gian Cabanas, who is studying civil engineering at the University of Surrey, started the project after winning an award for research he conducted into the structural performance of bamboo joint designs.

Using his research, Gian will take a team of other students from the university this summer to the Philippines to look at how to make homes there more resilient to typhoons and earthquakes. The group of students will also meet with Philippine communities to share their research outcomes.

The project is part of a wider student led social enterprise which has been working with rural tribal communities in the Philippines to replace harmful kerosene lamps with more sustainable lighting.

The social enterprise, called Project Source, developed a solar-powered lightbulb alternative using recycled plastic bottles. As result, they managed help to eliminate kerosene usage for 500 people on the islands of Mindanao and Negros Occidental.

Gian said

Through Project Bamboo and Project Source we are leaving a lasting and sustainable legacy for the people of the Philippines who we are working with. We are determined to make sure what we learn from the both projects is shared with the people who have welcomed us into their communities and their homes.

The university aims to use the project to show how science can build a more sustainable world.

Image: “Bantayan” by SailorsSociety is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0