Repairs to Quake Damaged Houses in Haiti Provide Safety to Thousands
Hearly G. Mayr
Director of Communications and Public Affairs
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Washington, D.C. (January 11, 2012) – More than 35,000 Haitians are now living in homes it has repaired, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has announced. However, two years after the 2010 earthquake more than 500,000 people are living in dangerous houses that had been damaged by the earthquake and are liable to collapse.
“These unrepaired houses scare me. If they are not repaired, a repeat of the earthquake could have an even higher death toll,” says Daniel O’Neil, Senior Director for Caribbean Programs at PADF. “We’ve trained hundreds of masons and are working with select local contractors to do all the work. We’re making progress. But with increased support, we could be doing far more.”
“I knew the house represented a danger. I feel so much better now because the house is safer,” says Anne Marie Leonard, 50, a resident of Matthieu, a community near Léogâne.
PADF is working closely with Haiti’s Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Telecommunications (MTPTC) and Miyamoto International, a seismic engineering firm, to ensure that the houses are repaired according to international standards. The first 5,000 houses were repaired in Léogâne and Port-au-Prince with funding from the US Government, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Caterpillar Foundation. This has helped thousands of families move from temporary shelters back into their homes.
All of the work is being carried out by Haitian workers using local materials. This has opened up work opportunities for hundreds of people, including masons and contractors, who depend on the construction industry to make a living. Because building supplies are purchased locally, this program has also infused much needed funds into the local economy, which has provided further economic security for suppliers. PADF has trained 900 masons and contractors in new building techniques, and worked with local suppliers of blocks, sand, and other construction supplies to ensure quality building.
“House by house we have refined our techniques,” says O’Neil. “As the masons built the walls, we watched carefully to ensure that it was done right and made them redo it when it wasn’t. We worked closely with the Ministry of Public Works to help their inspectors supervise the work.”
“We learned a lot about how to make the repairs of the homes that were affected by the quake,” says Nathanaël Legouté Junior, a 27-year-old MTPTC engineer.
The home repairs effort follows a comprehensive assessment of 413,800 buildings—nearly every building impacted by the earthquake—which PADF conducted in 2010 alongside MTPTC and Miyamoto. The evaluation, which marked each building with a green, yellow or red tag, determined that 90,000 yellow-tagged houses could be made safe again with relatively low cost repairs. It also uncovered that as many as 220,000 green tagged structures were safe for people to move back into them. Most of the remaining 102,000 red-tagged houses are too damaged to be repaired and will need to be demolished.
“Repairing houses is only the first step in rebuilding Haiti. People need a safe place to live. But they also need better neighborhoods and jobs,” adds O’Neil.
To contribute to PADF’s rebuilding Haiti efforts, please contact 877.572.4484 or give online at www.hardhats4haiti.org.