April 11, 2011—After the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, many buildings were irrepara-bly damaged especially in and around the country’s capital Port-au-Prince. The pace of reconstruction has been severely delayed because people still cannot return to their neighborhoods or homes. Due to the presence of unsafe damaged buildings its difficult to find clear land to build transitional shelters.
In the neighborhood of Nazon, in southeastern Port-au-Prince, 70% of the houses were severely damaged. USAID, through a competitive process, awarded CHF International the contract to demolish buildings and remove debris from the Nazon neighborhood. This makes cleared sites available for other NGOs to construct transitional shelters. The debris from the area is to be transported to the dump site of Trutier, which is the only site currently officially managed to mitigate environmental damage and authorized by the Government of Haiti to receive debris.
The neighborhood of Nazon covers about two square kilometers and has approximately 16,000 residents. In total CHF will be demolishing about 300 buildings and removing an estimated 120,000 cubic meters of rubble. USAID chose this area specifically because of the high level of damage to its houses, the amount of rubble still left congesting the streets and the high number of residents that were displaced.
In Nazon 753 buildings were marked red (red means uninhabitable, yellow needs minor repair, while green that the building is safe). Another 1,141 buildings have been marked yellow and need to be repaired before they can be consid-ered safely habitable again. While a remaining 820 buildings were marked safe for occupancy.
CHF International started operations in Nazon in late January 2011 and works will continue until end of May. Up to date, it has already demolished and cleared 190 houses and has removed 75,904 cubic meters of rubble that has been deposited in the Trutier dump site. Out of that, 44,427 cubic meters were demolished.
The first step in operations is for the community mobilizers to go out and give information to the residents in the area. They will search for the owners of destroyed houses in order to gather the proper documenta-tion. Then approval is sought from the government, USAID and from the owners to move forward with the demolition process.
Then, before starting the demolition process itself, safety is ensured. The work site teams check all the houses and verify that all are clear of people and they evacu-ate anybody still in the area. The site is cordoned off with yellow danger tape and flagmen are strategically placed around the demarked zone. Then the supervising engineers analyze how the excavator is going to demolish the house in order that it is brought down in the correct manner. The demolition begins and once it is finished, hauling trucks arrive on the scene to be loaded up by the excavators.
The CHF contract is paid on a fixed price per cubic meter. A ticketing system is in place to ensure that the dump trucks deposit the rubble at Trutier and that the volume moved is tracked. An independent certified firm is responsible for verify-ing these quantities. Back at the site, once the hauling process is finished, a loader and a skid steer loader come to the area and clean away the remaining debris.
For the areas that are difficult to access with heavy machinery, manual labor is used. Laborers are used to do any manual demolition of buildings or clearing of rubble that can’t be done mechanically. CHF is working with the com-munity’s central committee which has representatives from each sector of the neighborhood.
By employing people in the neighborhood, CHF is able also to reinsert some much needed cash into severely affected communities. The candidates chosen are usually some of the most affected residents who have survived loss of property and family. Workers are changed on a 12-day cycle in order to give as much employment opportunity to as many people as possible.
Up to now 310 laborers have already worked on site, while it is planned that approximately 600 will be employed in total by the end of the contract.