Haiti races to house post-quake homeless before the rainy season
The Haiti government needs 40,000 dwellings for 200,000 people currently homeless in flood- or mudslide-prone areas or in the most congested tent cities. Can it do that by the time the rainy season starts in early April?
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But that requires beaucoup de bucks. Already cash poor, the government lost 80 percent of its revenue and 30,000 commercial structures after the quake, say government officials. It's hoping that the international community and lending institutions will bridge its financial gap. The commission estimates that relocation from an emergency to transitional shelter will cost $367 per person. "We have to have cash in hand within the next six weeks," says commission member Gerald-Emile Brun, an architect with 35 years experience. "Otherwise people are going to drown."Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Brun hopes that at least 80 percent of the cost of acquiring land will be carried by the international community and lending institutions, and that eventually the US will cover the rest. Then the land has to be prepared and services provided. This could take weeks, months, even years.
DPA says it's working to get residents in shelters that conform to international standards: 30 square meters per person, 1.5 meters between tents or houses. That is more than the three square meters of personal space many people in tent camps currently have.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will provide about 100,000 shelters. But how many homes can be built, and how quickly they can get them up, depends on the materials available.
According to Mark South, Shelter Cluster spokesman, the current best estimate is that 50 percent of the materials for these 100,000 homes will be sourced by joint procurement – the large-scale purchase of materials. But the concrete details of these shipments have yet to be nailed down.
How much will a shelter cost?
Without these specifics, it's hard for NGOs to plan or to fundraise. Habitat for Humanity, for example, says it is impossible to tell donors how much a shelter will cost because the variables are just too great. "Our biggest challenge has been lack of clarity about who are the decisionmakers," says Kip Scheidler, Habitat's senior director for global disaster response. "Not knowing that makes everything more complicated than it should be in an already complicated situation."
Officials in both the government and aid agencies admit that mistakes have been made that could cost lives in the weeks to come.
"We're working as fast as we can," says Mr. South, the Cluster spokesman, "but it's a massive operation of coordination and we're up against it. We want to be able to provide as best we can without cutting corners that will put people at a long-term risk."
In the meantime, DPA will continue to work as fast as it can until its money runs out. If the joint procurement comes through, they will be able to build twice as many shelters.
"We've got no fancy vehicles or big offices," Mr. Radosavcec says. "Just two guys hoping to train as many teams as possible to build homes."