Rebuilding in Haiti: View From the Ground

Rebuilding in Haiti: View From the Ground

Published in: BBC

A UN donor conference on Wednesday received pledges of $9.9bn (£6.5bn) in immediate and long-term aid for Haiti. The money is badly needed to help the country after the devastation of January’s earthquake. But what is happening on the ground now as Haitians and aid groups try to rebuild lives and buildings?

REBUILDING HOUSES

Immaculee Dorcy and her family were living in a mud hut when the earthquake hit.

The building was virtually destroyed and they moved temporarily into a tent while three skilled workers and seven neighbours, employed by The Haitian Project, a US-based charity, built them a simple but comfortable home out of cinder blocks within six weeks.

The Haitian Project runs a school, Louverture Cleary, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince which educates around 350 boys and girls, all picked from the poorest parts of the city.

The school escaped largely unscathed in the quake but The Haitian Project’s supporters raised thousands of dollars after hearing of the earthquake. The project’s president, Patrick Moynihan, said they decided the most pressing need was clearly permanent housing.

Mr Moynihan said: “The Dorcy house was completed on time and on budget ($7,000). The house is a simple one, safe and secure, but without electricity or water, which are not available at this location.”

The school also sent a team of volunteers to the city’s main cathedral to help clear some of the debris and restore some of the building’s dignity.

PUMPING CLEAN WATER

In the aftermath of the earthquake one of the biggest problems was a shortage of clean, drinkable water.

Fortunately an American company, WorldWater & Solar Technologies, was on hand with a number of solar-powered water pumps and purifiers.

“It was pure serendipity that one of these machines happened to be in Haiti when the earthquake hit,” said Micky Ingles, the firm’s vice president of operations.

As Haiti also faced a shortage of diesel fuel to power generators and pumps, solar-powered equipment came into its own.

Mr Ingles said: “They are capable of producing 30,000 gallons of drinking water a day, which is the equivalent of three truckloads.”

There are now four of the units operating in Haiti and Mr Ingles pointed out another benefit of the pumps: “Unlike the bottled water provided by the big aid operations, they do not generate any trash.”