Helping Haitians prepare for the future

28 Mar 2011

imageUNDP seismologist Eric Calais shows the seismic map of Port-au-Prince (Photo: UNDP Haiti)

Cap Haitien, Haiti -- The Government of Haiti and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the first prevention plan to reduce vulnerability to seismic threats.

The new plan aims to reduce impacts in earthquake-prone areas by improving resilience of infrastructure and reducing risks for Haitians in poor housing.

"Today we are pleased to announce this plan,” said Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, Haiti’s Minister of Interior and Local Authorities. “This plan needs to be systematically implemented from now onwards to be able to make a meaningful impact."

Earthquake prevention planning will be conducted in consultations with mayors and community associations. Schools, hospitals and other public buildings will be assessed first on how to strengthen their structure.

UNDP and local governments will train Haitian architects, engineers and masons in construction techniques for earthquake-resistant structures. They will also initiate awareness programmes to inform Haitians of necessary actions that could minimize the impact of seismic threats on their lives.

“There are crucial decisions to me made by people,” said Calais, Professor of Geophysics at Purdue University, who was hired to evaluate seismic risks and develop a strategy to reduce future earthquake impacts.” If people have to choose between buying better quality construction material which is earthquake resilient, or building an extra room with the same cost, of course they should choose the first.”

This plan was recently approved by the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission, a panel composed of Haitian government officials, former US President Bill Clinton, the UN and other international partners.

See also:

Haiti: UNDP maps earth’s shifts to rebuild city on safer grounds