Technical guide for debris management - The Haitian experience 2010 - 2012
On January 12, 2010, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Haiti and devastated the capital Port-au-Prince, and its peripheral municipalities (Delmas, Cité Soleil, Croix des Bouquets, Pétionville, Tabarre, Carrefour), the Ouest department and the cities of Léogâne, Grand Goâve, Petit Goâve, Ganthier, Gressier, as well as the Sud-Est department and, in particular, the city of Jacmel. The earthquake killed more than 220,000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million people.
The building damage assessment, conducted between March 2010 and February 2011 by the Government of Haiti and the United Nations system, showed that more than 400,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed, of which approximately 218,000 could be occupied without repairs (green category), 105,000 were damaged but could be repaired (yellow category), and 80,000 were severely damaged and remained uninhabitable (red category).
The destruction of buildings and infrastructure generated a huge amount of debris, estimated at 10 million cubic meters, blocking streets and land in affected areas. In the absence of a national debris management strategy, debris could, thus, be cleared and disposed of in an uncontrolled manner, hindering relief, recovery and reconstruction activities.
Following the earthquake, the UN Integrated Strategic Framework (ISF) replaced the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, and defined strategic priorities for intervention in the country. The framework was adopted by all United Nations agencies and the United Nations Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH), to contribute to the Action Plan for National Recovery and Development of Haiti (PARDN) developed by the Haitian Government, in consultation with all sectors of the country.
The priorities of the Action Plan aimed to address the immediate emergency, resume economic, governmental and social activities, reduce the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters and re-launch Haiti on the path of development. Clearing the debris, demolishing potentially hazardous buildings and repairing damaged houses became the main means of encouraging the return and resettlement of displaced people to their areas of origin, the resumption of the productive cycle, the reconstruction of everyday life and the psychosocial recovery of affected populations. As such, debris management was one of the first steps towards rebuilding the country.
With this overarching objective, in February 2010, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a joint labor-intensive Cash for Work programme (LI/CFW) in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Haiti, to initiate early interventions for debris and waste removal, clearing of roads and public squares, and dredging of drainage channels.
In response to the priorities identified by the Government of Haiti through the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, UNDP decided to launch the implementation of a sustainable development and recovery-based debris management programme through the implementation of three specific projects, the first project in Léogâne, the epicentre of the earthquake, and two in Port-au-Prince (Debris I and Debris II).
These projects were intended to contribute to the rehabilitation of the most affected urban areas through the implementation of a debris management strategy, including planning, demolition, removal, transportation, reuse and recycling and rehabilitation of public spaces through recycled debris.
The Debris Projects (Debris I and Debris II) in Port-au-Prince benefitted from the strategic integration of the United Nations system, with the involvement of several agencies that played specific roles: the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) responsible for social mobilization, community participation and the preparation of neighborhood restructuring plans; the International Labor Organization (ILO) responsible for job creation through the reuse of recyclable debris and the reactivation of the local economy through the creation and support for small and micro-enterprises; and UNDP responsible for demolition, debris removal, neighborhood rehabilitation and the general coordination of the intervention, including a participatory approach and in partnership with UNOPS, central and local governments, local and international NGOs, the private sector, and more importantly, the Haitian population.
Debris management thus become a strategic point of entry into damaged areas through programmes that stimulate the local economy and job creation, becoming the basis for sustainable development.
The chaotic situation from the outset and the limited literature on assistance programmes in urban contexts, such as debris management, made the implementation of this programme a challenging but also exciting experience for UNDP.
This experience has allowed to draw meaningful lessons and propose practical recommendations for the implementation of new debris management programmes, for both UNDP and humanitarian actors at large.
Based on the experience gained by UNDP in Haiti, this guide aims to share the key design, programmatic and operational considerations for the implementation of debris management programmes, from a hands-on learning perspective, based on the successes and challenges of the experience, with a particular focus on the actions under its responsibility.
Sophie de Caen
UNDP Senior Country Director