Monday, February 1, 2010

Steal this plan for Haiti, urges Architecture for Humanity

On Wire's Haiti Rewired site, a fascinating and content-rich "ongoing conversation about technology, infrastructure and the future of Haiti," I found a link to an organization that has a solid plan for helping the people of Haiti get through the immediate crisis and into rebuilding.

Architecture for Humanity operates many projects worldwide and has disaster planning experience with Hurricane Katrina.  Here's the first three bullets of their eleven point plan:

1. Community Based Anchors
We will set up Community Resource Centers to supply architecture and building services to community groups, NGOs and social entrepreneurs on the ground. This is not an 'exclusive' center, it is open and collaborative. We've already talked with a dozen local and international organizations to create the Haiti Rebuilding Coalition. This team will be housed in each of these centers. See below for the value of these facilities. Want to start another? Donate here.
2. Distribute lessons learned
Translate and distribute a Rebuilding 101 Manual that we originally developed after Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami. If you just read aid agency websites you'd think they never got it wrong. In eastern Sri Lanka I sat with representatives from nine other NGO's and we discovered in our 'no BS sessions' we had made the same $500 mistake. Collectively, that is a transitional school for 120 kids. Don't get me started on New Orleans. If we only share 'best practices' we never really adapt and learn. The handbook of 'what not to do' is far more valuable. P.S. Read The Man Who Tried To Save The World on the work of Fred Cuny, the original NGO whistle-blower.
[UPDATE: Project Underway]
3. Earthquake Resistant Housing Manual
Adapt, translate and distribute an Earthquake Resistant Housing Manual for local NGOs and community groups. A coalition of partners can collaborate and work on this, including Haiti-based AIDG, Build Change, Engineers Without Borders and other engineering partners. We developed one after the Kashmir Earthquake a few years ago. This time we need to put them on every NGO workers' Kindle and create a training manual for local contractors.
[UPDATE: Project Underway]

The last paragraph of Executive Director Cameron Sinclair's plan overview is a sad but hopeful commentary on the politics of disaster relief.

There is no 'ownership' in rebuilding lives. It sickens me when I hear agencies say their processes are proprietary. If you like what we are doing either support us or steal this plan. We need dozens of tug boat NGO's working together to build back Haiti better. Let's not waste donor dollars on working in silos. Haiti has suffered enough.

You can donate to Architecture for Humanity here.

Photos of current projects: straw bale housing for the Navajo Nation; Ugandan AIDS Orphans School.

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