Haitians recycle rubble into new communities

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Port-au-Prince/New York – Two years after the devastating earthquake Haitians have recycled over 20 percent of more than half of the total quake rubble removed so far, helping affected communities build new houses or rebuild damaged ones, pave sidewalks and put up more than 2,000 metres of walls and riverbank protection structures to help prevent flooding in the disaster-prone Caribbean country.

The debris management programme is a partnership between the Government of Haiti, United Nations agencies—coordinated by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) — with local partners, especially the Haitian people. More than 90 percent of workers are Haitian and 40 percent are women.

“One of our priorities is to bring all these stakeholders together and place Haitians at the centre of this reconstruction process,” said Jessica Faieta, UNDP Haiti Senior Country Director.

Across the country, UNDP, the UN Programme for Human Settlements, the International Labour Organization and the UN Office of Project Services have trained more than 7,000 Haitians in the fields of manual and mechanical rubble removal, recycling, house repair skills, as well as electric wiring, carpentry and masonry.

In the city of Leogane, 36km west of the capital Port-au-Prince, UNDP is working hand-in-hand with the City Hall and NGOs to create 5,000 jobs and help Haitians remove 75 percent of all the quake rubble. More than half of the workers are women and 10 percent are disabled people.

“This project helps people start living again,” said George Tadros, who oversees UNDP’s Debris Management Project, in a recent film prepared by the Canadian International Development Agency, one of the main funders of the Leogane initiative.

In the film, Tadros explained that the debris is brought to the landfill and recycling area to be ground and sorted. Some of it is used to finish the outside of houses, but most of the material is used for backfill. Recycled rubble is also used as paving stones, which will be sold by project beneficiaries to boost job creation and help kick-start businesses in the city.

“This project also allowed people to leave camps and return to their homes,” said Jean-Louis Guston, Project Manager at the Leogane City Hall.

In Port-au-Prince, the Haitian Presidency and the United Nations have helped over 1,000 families return home in the past couple of months, also contributing to bring back to the capital its convivial green space and public parks.

The project entitled 16/6 will allow the residents of six camps to return to their 16 neighbourhoods of origin through housing subsidies over a period of six months. The initiative focuses on improving living and housing conditions while boosting economic opportunities in countryside communities, which are key factors to encourage Haitians to restart their lives and help rebuild their hometowns.