Rebuilding Haiti and Beyond
Disaster strikes, millions left homeless
In 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, leaving over 200,000 dead and millions without homes. The world rushed in with ideas and technologies born and suited to here, but complete misfits over there. Instant houses and prefab kits of wood and steel can look really appealing in a brochure, but over and over again find no takers when delivered. Even desperate people reject shelter that is not suited to their own culture and climate. Hundreds of aid agencies are at work rebuilding, but almost all of them are using imported materials poorly suited and unaffordable to ordinary Haitians.
We had a better idea - rebuilding with the people and materials at hand
When the earthquake hit, Ecological Building Network was just finishing developing the ASTM earthen building standard to help people worldwide create affordable, appropriate and earthquake-safe housing. Almost immediately our community started work on how to apply what we know about building with earth and other indigenous resources to solving the housing crisis in Haiti, where access to such first-world materials as cement and steel is limited.
The "natural" solution was to craft ways to build that can continue long after the aid money stops flowing, using recycled concrete rubble, earth and bamboo. EBNet convened a series of design charettes, involving dozens of brilliant engineers, NGO's, builders, and architects, and crafted building systems applicable to anywhere on Earth, and one specific to Haiti's particular needs. We developed a way to easily build safe, affordable, and healthy schools and homes anywhere, using materials at hand. Putting this system in the hands of Haitians, or anyone, enables them to rebuild their own communities in a way the meets their cultural needs as well as their shelter needs.
The Haitian Government agreed with us, and named us winners in the international BBBC (Building Back Better Communities) competition in 2010.
We have made this system available for anyone to use it, and are ready to consult or partner to put it to use.