How Should Port-au-Prince be Rebuilt?

With Haiti's capital city in ruins, and emergency response still underway, rebuilding efforts are a ways off. But the rebuilding following recent disasters may provide guidance, writes Mark MacKinnon.

The task ahead seems almost impossible:

"With as many as 45,000 people believed to be dead, it's hard to imagine that eventually life will return to something approaching normal in Port-au-Prince...But history tells us that Port-au-Prince will rebuild and recover, at least to its previous state...Simply rebuilding Haiti is one thing, reconstructing Haitian communities is another....People who have lost their homes and livelihoods usually welcome outside help. But they don't want to be cut out when their community is being reconstructed. In the end, Haitians must decide what they want the rebuilt Port-au-Prince to look like."

MacKinnon suggests that China's experience rebuilding Sichuan, as well as the Indonesian efforts following the tsunami show how, with locally-appropriate planning that avoids "cookie-cutter solutions," disasters can result in improved living conditions.

Full Story: How to Fix Port-au-Prince



Rebuilt in the Vision of Haiti's People/Shock Doctrine

I think this article is relevant as it addresses the rush by "developed" countries to exploit economic development opportunities in ravaged countries, in this case Haiti. Read Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine for background.

Naomi Klein Issues Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert

Economic policies pushed thousands of Haitians from the country to Port-au-Prince, resulting in the high death tolls. This was avoidable.

Re building, clearly it would be best to have buildings that are more able to withstand natural disasters, as opposed to imploding as their concrete buildings have. Consult with the people of Haiti.

nuts and bolts

There are several issues that have to be addressed in the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince. First, we have to be respectful of their sovereignty. We cannot swoop in and do it for them, they must be a part of the process, they must contribute to the decisions, they must contribute to the building.
Second, utilities, shelter, emergency medical facilities, mass grave location, rubble dumps, transportation, food distribution, security, all these things must be done simultaneously.
Third, if we do not include as many of them as possible in the process, they will be on the outside and will require greater security, and it be even harder to bring them in later, if they do not own the process now.
Fourth, there are no building codes in Haiti, so with their participation codes must be adopted for the rebuilding. Streets, utility corridors, public buildings, parks, schools, all these things must be included in the plan before real construction can begin. And haphazard chaos would make eventual success even more difficult. We have a nearly blank slate. The planning must be immediate, but it must be right.

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