Haiti Update

Haiti  Rebuild

Recently Cameron Sinclair (AfH co-founder) spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos on the rebuilding eff ort and met with former Haitian PM Michelle Pierre-Louis as well as President Clinton and his staff on how we can start into the long term reconstruction effort. This plan was picked up from everywhere from Time Magazine to the Vatican. As a result we've begun forming a coalition of Haitian and international groups to focus and collaborate on the reconstruction effort.


The media often attempts to twist the situation. In reality, here is what it really looks like:

  • Pre-Planning Assessments and Damage Analysis (underway, will run for a year)

  • Establish Community Resource Center and Reconstruction Studio (Week 6 to Month 3)

  • Sorting Out Land Tenure and Building Ownership (Month 6 to Year 5)

  • Transitional Shelters , Health Clinics and Community Structures (Month 6 to Year 2)

  • Schools, Hospitals and Civic Structures (Month 9 to Year 3)

  • Permanent Housing (Year 1 to Year 5)


As for a long term plan, our team is growing day by day and thanks to hundreds of individual donations we now have the resources to start enacting a long term reconstruction initiative. The details are being fleshed out, but as here is our plan (so far):

1. Community Based Anchors

We will set up Community Resource Centers to supply architecture and building services to community groups, NGOs a nd social entrepreneurs on the ground. This is not an 'exclusive' center, it is open and collaborative. We've already talked with a dozen local and international organizations to create the Haiti Rebuilding Coalition. This team will be housed in each of these centers.

2. Distribute lessons lea rned

Translate and distribute a Rebuilding 101 Manual that we originally developed after Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami. We will learn from mistakes of the past.

3. Earthquake Resistant Housing Manual

Adapt, translate and distribute an Earthquake Resistant Housing Manual for local NGOs and community groups. A coalition of partners can collaborate and work on this, including Haiti-based AIDG, Build Change, Engineers Without Borders and other engineering partners. We developed one after t he Kashmir Earthquake a few years ago.

4. Provide Building Expertise

Provide teams of architectural and construction professionals to develop and build community facilities, including schools and medical centers. These teams will be local and regional with some international support. The full time staff must also have a unique knowledge of disaster mitigation and long term sustainable development. Also, the team is very site specific. In one of our programs we had an elephant migration expert to help locate buildings so as to not disturb the flow of animals. If you are a building expert, sign up.

5. Build A Construction Workforce.

Train and educate incoming volunteers and community members in building safely, emphasizing the need for sustainable materials and construction techniques. It is not about just building homes, but jobs.

6. Disaster Preparedness.

Hurricane Season primed to devastate Haiti once again. The time line is such that if a hurricane hits Haiti head on, the loss of life will be severe and every temporary housing camp will be wiped out. Last year we had developed a youth sports facility and hurricane resistant disaster recovery center for Port au Prince. We will complete that project and look to implement other centers.

7. Build Schools

We will design, develop and implement community and civic structures for various locally-based community partners. This will include reconstruction and building educational facilities given the particular loss in structures and our expertise in school construction. Beyond the basic human right to give children access to eduction, if they don't have a place to go, parents can't work and there is no economic stability. Schools are the focal point in community recovery.

8. Implement Digital Acupuncture.
Working with groups like Inveneo, Samasource, AIDG and the 50x15 Foundation, we can incorporate ICT into all of the community facilities. Bridging the digital divide, we can give the aid agencies the technology they need to expedite the recovery process but also upgrade the digital infrastructure of Haiti in the long term.

9. Safe, Secure and Sustainable Housing.

Haitians are not going want to hear ideas; they need shelter. It is our job to build homes that are not only safe but incorpo rate the needs, desires and dreams of the families that will live in them. If we build homes the same way they have been built before, we are just setting people up for disaster again. We can force better building codes by building examples of what the future will look like. Again, this will be a coalition of building partners.

10. Support Social Entrepreneurs and Job Creation

Like in many of our other post disaster programs, we will reach out and work with women's empowerment groups and artisans (like Lulan Artisans) to help rebuild their facilities, speeding up job creation and the ability to distribute micro-loans (aka Kiva, etc.).

11. Open Source and Share Everything

If your focus is social change and not financial gain, it is only innovative if it is shared. We were fortunate enough to win the TED Prize in 2006, and from that we built the Open Architecture Network. All of the works we produce are shared openly, under Creative Commons license, and distributed through the network. In the two years we've run it, hundreds of other organizations and individuals have uploaded humanitarian design solutions.

By connecting with other NGOs and open sourcing construction documents, we can influence many building programs in the region. We can leave a legacy of innovative, locally appropriate solutions to protect from future disasters.


We are now moving swiftly into the recovery phase and NOW is the time for construction professionals to lend a hand. Save The Children, Concern Worldwide and the United Nations have all reached out to us in desperate need of structural engineers to inspect their buildings and to support their recovery effort. If you'd like to be an Architecture for Humanity embed - please email your resume to us. They need folks in Haiti today!


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