In Los Angeles, Tokyo, and other rich cities in fault zones, the added expense of making buildings earthquake resistant has become a fact of life. Concrete walls are reinforced with steel, for instance, and a few buildings even rest on elaborate shock absorbers. Strict building codes were credited with saving thousands of lives when a magnitude 8.8 quake hit Chile in late February. But in less developed countries like Haiti, where a powerful quake in January killed some 222,500 people and left more than a million homeless, conventional earthquake engineering is often unaffordable. “The devastation in Haiti wouldn’t happen in a developed country,” says engineer Marcial Blondet of the Catholic University of Peru, in Lima. Yet it needn't happen anywhere. Cheap solutions exist.