Fragility curves for non-engineered masonry buildings in developing countries derived from real data based on structural surveys and laboratory tests

Viviana I Novelli, Raffaele De Risi, Ignasio Ngoma, Innocent Kafodya, Panos Kloukinas, John H G Macdonald, Katsuichiro Goda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
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Malawi is located within the southern branch of the active East African Rift System, where earthquakes of moment magnitude (Mw) 7.0 or greater can occur along major faults. The majority of dwellings in the country are non-engineered unreinforced masonry constructions, built by local artisans with little input from engineers. These constructions are highly vulnerable to seismic events due to poor-quality materials and lack of construction detailing. This study presents a new methodology to assess the seismic fragility curves of typical dwellings located in the Central and Southern Malawi. On-site inspections of buildings are carried out to assess geometrical and structural features of 646 fac ̧ades, and an experimental campaign is performed to characterise the mechanical properties of local construction materials. The collected data allow the identification of different building typologies in terms of quality of materials and construction techniques. The critical failure modes for each of the inspected fac ̧ade at their ultimate limit state are evaluated analytically. Damage limit states are defined and adopted to derive simplified Static Push-Over (SPO) curves, transformed into incremental dynamic analysis (IDA) curves by using SPO2IDA. The IDA curves are then used to obtain fragility curves for the specific damage limit states. The fragility curves presented herein are the first to be calculated for these building typologies, based on local data, and unfortunately, they show that buildings in Malawi are far more vulnerable to earthquakes than estimated from previously available international reference data. The fragility curves developed in this study may prove useful for assessing the seismic risk of these building typologies in Malawi and other East African countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6113-6138
Number of pages26
JournalSoft Computing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through the PREPARE Project (EP/P028233/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Non-engineered unreinforced masonry buildings
  • Structural survey
  • Laboratory testing
  • Mechanical approach
  • Fragility curves


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