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Le but de ce blog est d'eduquer et de discuter a propos des desastres naturels avec un focus sur l'activite et la vulnerabilite sismique, de reporter des informations generales relatives au tremblement de terre d'Haiti du 12 janvier 2010 et aux tremblements de terre du monde. Il met l'accent sur les efforts de reconstruction d'Haiti et la necessite d'utiliser des techniques de conception des structures de batiments et construction parasismique dans la construction des infrastructures physiques.

Haitilibre.com / Les dossiers

Friday, August 26, 2011

Victimes du 12 janvier "abandonnees comme des chiens errants"

 Par Ayiti Kale Je

Près de quatre-vingt mille minuscules maisons jonchent les collines de la capitale haïtienne et d’autres régions dévastées par le séisme du 12 janvier 2010, qui a emporté 230 000 âmes, endommagé ou détruit 171 584 maisons et déplacé des millions de personnes.
La Commission Intérimaire pour la Reconstruction d'Haïti (CIRH), dirigée par Bill Clinton, a approuvé des budgets totalisant 254,5 M$ pour des projets de reconstruction, de rénovation et de réparation de plus de 41 700 unités d’habitation.
Le nouveau gouvernement haïtien, dirigé par le chanteur  Michel Joseph Martelly, a récemment organisé la « semaine de la reconstruction ». Parmi les activités, M. Clinton et le Président ont inauguré une « exposition de domiciles » avec plus de 60 maisons modèles et un nouveau programme hypothécaire appelé « Kay Pa M », en français « Ma maison ».
 
Stratégie annoncée par les agences internationales et le gouvernement en novembre dernier. A-t-il ete suivi? Source: Shelter Cluster
Peut-on insinuer que la reconstruction a bien commencée? Les 634 000 personnes vivant encore dans les 1001 camps, comme les autres dizaines de milliers vivant dans des structures peu sécuritaires, voire condamnées, pourront-ils bientôt déménager dans un domicile sécuritaire?
Ayiti Kale Je a décidé d’y regarder de plus près. Son équipe de journalistes des radios commautaires, d’étudiants et de journalistes ont parlé à ceux qui vivent dans les camps, aux organisations humanitaires et aux autorités de la capitale, de la région des Palmes en particulier, soit les municipalités de Léogâne, Petit-Goâve et Grand Goâve, situés près de l’épicentre du tremblement de terre, où 150 000 personnes se sont retrouvées sans maison et où s’entassent encore environ 24 000 personnes, ou 7500 familles, dans des camps.
Dix-sept mois après le séisme, voici ce qu’ils ont trouvé :
•  Les travaux de réparation et de construction de 68 025 unités qui seront effectués ne compte que pour environ 22 pour cent (22%) des 304 060 familles victimes enregistrées. (De nos jours, la population dans les camps a diminué, ce en raison de divers facteurs, dont les expulsions de plus de 50 000 personnes, ainsi que le retour de milliers de familles dans des logements dangereux.)
•  La plupart des programmes et des projets annoncés à ce jour excluent les centaines de milliers de victimes qui étaient locataires avant le séisme.
•  Au moins 5 400 des unités qui seront construites ou réparées sont dans le département du Nord d’Haïti, loin de l’épicentre du séisme et de ses victimes, mais tout près de la zone où les compagnies étrangères prévoient un nouveau parc industriel d’usines de montage à faibles salaires.
•  Les propriétaires terriens et du bâtis sont les principaux groupes bénéficiaires des 116 000 T-Shelters (abris « transitionnels » ou « temporaires »), qui coûtent plus de 200 M$ US aux agences humanitaires et à leurs donateurs. Cependant, sur les 304 020 familles déplacées, plus de la moitié – soit environ 173 000 – n'avaient pas une maison ou un terrain avant le séisme.
•  La plupart des camps de la région des Palmes, et d’ailleurs du pays, manquent d’installations hydriques et sanitaires adéquates. Les gens se baignent souvent, voire se soulagent, à ciel ouvert, utilisent de l’eau non chlorée, manquent d’installations où se laver les mains et vivent dans des conditions sordides et sous-humaines, dans un pays où, tous les jours, des centaines de personnes contractent le Vibrio cholerae.
•  Aucune agence – nationale ou internationale – ne sert d’instance coordonnatrice pour la reconstruction de maisons, bien qu’on semble enfin voir des progrès en ce sens.
Par contre :
•  Beaucoup des 116 000 T-Shelters peuvent se classer comme « semi-permanents » ou mieux, car ils sont construits de matériaux résistants sur des fondations solides, qui peuvent être renforcés ou agrandis.
•  Les projets de reconstructions dans la capitale, qui sont évalués à plusieurs millions de dollars américains, promettent de réhabiliter des quartiers où vivent au moins 80 000 familles.

Louise Delva, d'un camp au Petit-Goave, indiquant ou elle et les autres residents du camp vont aux toilettes
 
Louise Delva qui n'a pas obtenu un T-Shelter et qui ne fait pas partie des projets de reconstruction vit dans une tente pourie dans le camp "Regal" avec ses enfants pres d'une riviere que les refugies utilisent comme latrine. Pendant une semaine en juin, 21 des residents des camps ont ete frappes par le cholera. Elle se dit oubliee: "Ils disent que nous avons des dirigeants. Nous n'avons pas de dirigeants dans ce pays. Ils nous ont abandonne comme un chien errant"

Regardez le video avec visite aux trois camps

 




Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why the Virginia earthquake was felt north and south of the East Coast in the U.S and in Canada hundreds kilometres away from the epicenter?

 By Kerry Sheridan
Agence France-Presse
Washington: A rare 5.8 earthquake that rattled the eastern United States and was felt over a wide area from Toronto, Canada down to Georgia due to the hard, brittle quality of the ground.
The quake that struck near Richmond, Virginia was the strongest in the state since 1897, and shook the eastern seaboard for some 30 seconds, sparking a wave of panic among residents.
"Earthquakes of this magnitude are unusual in your area, but the fact that you shook so hard and the event was actually some distance from you is not unusual," Thomas Jordan, director of Southern California Earthquake Centre based at the University of Southern California, told the residents.
Different crusts
The outer rocky shell of the Earth, known as the lithosphere, is colder on the East Coast than in California, which is well known for experiencing frequent earthquakes.
"So when something shakes, it is like hitting a bar of steel, it rings pretty well. Whereas on the West Coast, the rocks are higher temperature and it is more like hitting something quite a bit softer," said Jordan.
Lucy Jones, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) spokeswoman, said the West Coast crust is broken up by active faults so it "doesn't do as good of a job of transmitting the energy. On the East Coast, you have this old, hard, cold crust that does a lovely job of transmitting the waves like a solid bell," she said, so that an earthquake "can definitely be felt hundreds of kilometres away".
Australia similar to East Coast
The U.S. East Coast has plenty of fault lines, but they are ancient, and are inside a creaky plate that is under pressure from being jostled and pushed by other plates, experts said. Occasionally, pressure builds up and stresses will be released in earthquakes, like the one that occurred this week.
"They are faults that used to be very active faults hundreds of millions of years ago, unlike the faults on the West Coast ... (that) are active today," said Jordan.
Jack Boatwright, a seismologist with USGS, said that one aftershock of 2.8 magnitude was recorded in the hour following the quake. Other parts of the world that are similar to the U.S. East Coast in terms of earthquake dynamics would include India, as well as some parts of Russia and Australia, he added. "In India, that large triangle is relatively old, so we think that it conducts energy similarly."
Minimal chance of bigger quake
Other differences between East and West Coast quakes are the sounds they make - residents of California are less likely to hear banging associated with a big quake unless they are very near the epicentre, Boatwright said. "On the East Coast you might hear it many kilometers away, so don't distrust the people who said they heard it."
Jordan added that the likelihood of a bigger quake in the near future was minimal. "There is a small probability that this could be the first of a set of earthquakes and there could a larger earthquake coming, but the chances of that are small, about 3 to 5%."
On the U.S. East Coast, where brick and wood buildings are not typically built to withstand shaking, a local official in Virginia said they were investigating calls of structural damage. Washington's National Cathedral reported "significant damage," with parts of three of the central tower's four pinnacles, its uppermost spires, having fallen off. No one was injured by the falling debris.
"On the East Coast you have a lot of structures that, since they haven't been built to withstand earthquakes, don't do a very good job if they are actually shaking," said Jordan. Any damage that occurs is typically close to the epicentre in such quakes, and the area where the quake struck was not a heavily populated town centre.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

50e ANNIVERSAIRE DE LA MORT DE JACQUES STEPHEN ALEXIS



Jacques-Stephen Alexis


Jacques-Stephen Alexis en 1961
D.R. © photo des archives de Gérald Bloncourt
Jacques-Stephen Alexis est né le 22 avril 1922 à Gonaïves (Haïti).  Son père, le journaliste Stéphen Alexis, auteur du Nègre masqué (1933), étant nommé à un poste diplomatique en Europe, Jacques entreprend des études au Collège Stanislas, à Paris.  De retour en Haïti en 1930, il poursuit ses études au Collège Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, puis à la Faculté de médecine. Il fait la connaissance de Roumain et de Guillen en 1942. Il fonde La Ruche, journal d'opposition, qui joue un rôle décisif lors de la Révolution de 1946. Membre du Parti Communiste Haïtien, il conteste l'élection de Dumarsais Estimé. Il est emprisonné. À sa sortie, il passe son Doctorat de médecine et se rend à Paris. Il mène de front une triple activité: professionnelle (il se spécialise en neurologie), politique (par les Jeunesses communistes et la Fédération de Paris, il prend contact avec divers partis communistes, dont celui de Chine) et littéraire (il se lie avec Aragon, avec les écrivains de la Négritude et les écrivains latino-américains). En 1955, Gallimard publie son premier roman, Compère Général Soleil, dont le succès est immédiat. Il rentre en Haïti.
Inquiété par les autorités, Jacques-Stephen Alexis prend part néanmoins aux débats culturels et politiques en cours. Il apporte une contribution importante en 1956 à Paris, au Premier Congrès des Écrivains et Artistes Noirs: Prolégomènes à un Manifeste du Réalisme Merveilleux des Haïtiens. Il publie rapidement Les Arbres musiciens (1957), L'Espace d'un cillement (1959) et Romancero aux étoiles (1960). Il participe dans le même temps à divers congrès internationaux, dont celui de l'Union des Écrivains Soviétiques (1959). Le pouvoir de Duvalier accentue fortement l'atmosphère d'insécurité autour de lui, et empêche certaines de ses activités. Invité en Chine en 1961, et conscient de la déchirure qui se déclare entre les deux grands états communistes, il tente de faciliter un dernier rapprochement. Il rencontre Ho Chi Minh, Mao, et lance des appels remarqués pour l'unité du mouvement communiste international. Il rentre à Cuba, avec la décision d'entrer dans la clandestinité. En compagnie de quatre compagnons, Charles Adrien-Georges, Guy Béliard, Hubert Dupuis-Nouillé et Max Monroe, il débarque sur la plage de Bombardopolis, avec probablement pour objectif de rallier le hounfort dédié aux loas racines des Alexis, Souvenance. Sans doute trahis, les membres de l'expédition furent arrêtés, torturés, exécutés. La mort de Jacques-Stephen Alexis n'a jamais été officiellement reconnue.

 A lire aussi sur Jacques Stephen Alexis:
Jacques Alexis Remembered 
Stephen Alexis le pere de Jacques Stephen Alexis

– Yves Chemla
          Oeuvres principales:

Romans:

  • Les arbres musiciens. Paris: Gallimard, 1957, 1984; Port-au-Prince: Les Editions Fardin, 1986.
  • Compère Général Soleil. Paris: Gallimard, 1955.
  • L'espace d'un cillement. Paris: Gallimard, 1959, 1983.

Nouvelles:

  • Romancero aux étoiles; contes. Paris: Gallimard, 1960.

Articles sélectionnés:

  • « Contribution à la Table-Ronde sur le folklore et le nationalisme ». Optique (juin 1956):  25-34.
  • « La Culture haïtienne ». Les lettres françaises (27 septembre-3 octobre 1956).
  • « Du Réalisme merveilleux des Haïtiens ». Présence Africaine 8-9-10 (juin-novembre 1956): 245-271.
  • « Modern Haïtian Thought ». Books Abroad 30 (Spring 1956):  261-265.
  • « Où va le roman ? » (Débat autour des conditions d'un roman national chez les peuples noirs). Présence Africaine 13 (avril-mai 1957): 81-101.
  • « La Belle Amour humaine 1957 ». Europe 49.501 (janvier 1971): 20-27.
  • Préface à Jacques Roumain, Oeuvres Choisies. S. Pojarski, éd.  E.S.L., Editions du Progrès, 1964.
  • Préface à La Montagne ensorcelée de Jacques Roumain. Paris: Les Editeurs français réunis, 1972.


     Sur Jacques-Stephen Alexis:

  • Amer, Henry. "Jacques-Stephen Alexis: l'Espace d'un cillement, Le Romancero aux étoiles". La Nouvelle Revue française 15 (janvier-juin 1960): 969.
  • Antoine, Yves. Sémiologie et personnage romanesque chez Jacques Stephen Alexis. Montréal: Balzac, 1993.
  • Assali, Donald. "L'Espace d'un cillement de Jacques-Stephen Alexis: amour, politique et antillanité". Journal of Caribbean Studies 2 (Spring 1981): 15-23.
  • Assali, Donald. "Le Récit paysan alexien: Les Arbres musiciens". Présence francophone 176 (automne 1978): 109-124.
  • Boadas, Aura Marina. Lo barroco en la obra de Jacques Stephen Alexis. Caracas: Fundación CELARG, 1992.
  • Castera, Georges (fils). "L'expérience de la nuit et l'expérience du jour dans Compère Général Soleil, de J.-S. Alexis". Europe 49.501 (janvier 1971): 71-81.
  • Collectif. "Jacques-Stephen Alexis et la littérature d'Haïti".  n° spécial d'Europe 49.501 (janvier 1971): 3-81.
  • Dash, J. Michael. Jacques-Stephen Alexis.  Toronto: Black Images, 1975.
  • Decius, Philippe. "Contes et réalités haïtiennes chez Jacques Alexis". Europe. 49.501 (janvier 1971): 49-63.
  • Depestre, René. "Les Arbres musiciens par Jacques-Stephen Alexis". Présence Africaine 16 (octobre-novembre 1957): 188-189.
  • Depestre, René. "Un grand roman haïtien Compère Général Soleil, par Jacques-Stephen Alexis". Présence Africaine 16 (octobre-novembre 1957):  91-92.
  • Depestre, René. "Parler de Jacques-Stephen Alexis"; "Le merveilleux dans les lettres et les arts de Haïti". Bonjour et adieu à la Négritude. Paris: Laffont, 1980: 197-226; 242-246.
  • Heady, Margaret. "Le merveilleux et la conscience marxiste dans Les arbres musiciens de Jacques-Stephen Alexis". Études francophones 17.2 (automne 2002): 112-124.
  • Jonassaint, Jean. "Notes pour une relecture d'Alexis." Collectif Paroles 19 (1982): 28-30.
  • Laroche, Maximilien. Le Romancero aux étoiles et l'oeuvre romanesque de Jacques Stephen Alexis. Paris: Nathan, 1978.
  • Laroche, Maximilien. Contributions à l'étude du réalisme merveilleux. Québec, Université Laval, Grelca, 1987.
  • Laroche, Maximilien. "Tatez-o-Flando de Jacques-Stephen Alexis. Analyse du passage de l'oral à l'écrit d'un conte populaire". Perspectives théoriques sur les littératures africaines et caribéennes. Suzanne Crosta et al., éds. Toronto, 1987: 13-23.
  • Le Rumeur, Dominique. "Jacques-Stephen Alexis, un médecin face à la création littéraire". Conjonction 173 (1987): 163-171.
  • Manuel, Robert. Le Combat des femmes dans les romans de J.-S. Alexis. Port-au-Prince: Deschamps, 1980.
  • Mininni, Maria Isabella. "Formas barrocas de la alienación en Chronique d'un faux-amour de Jaques-Stephen Alexis". Francofonía 10 (2001): 119-132.
  • Mudimbe-Boyi, M. Elisabeth. L'oeuvre romanesque de Jacques-Stephen Alexis, une écriture poétique, un engagement politique. Montréal: Humanitas, 1992.
  • Munro, Martin. Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature: Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferrière, Danticat. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007.
  • Ponte, Cecilia. Le Réalisme merveilleux dans Les Arbres musiciens de Jacques-Stephen Alexis. Sainte-Foy: Université Laval/GRELCA, 1987.
  • Sarner, Eric. La Passe du vent: une histoire haïtienne. Paris: Payot, 1994.
  • Séonnet, Michel. Jacques-Stephen Alexis ou "le voyage vers la lune de la belle amour humaine". Toulouse: Atelier de création populaire, 1983.
  • Souffrant, Claude. Une Négritude socialiste: religion et développement chez Jacques-Roumain, Jacques-Stephen Alexis et Langston Hughes. Paris: L'Harmattan, 1978.


Traductions:

In English:

  • General Sun, my brother. Carrol F. Coates, translation and introduction. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999.
  • In the Flicker of an Eyelid. Trad. Carrol F. Coates and Edwidge Danticat. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002.

En español:

  • En un abrir y cerrar de ojos. Jorge Zalamea, trad.  México, Era, 1969; Santo Domingo: Taller, 1984.
  • El compadre general Sol. La Habana: Casa de las Américas, 1974. Mi compadre el general Sol. Santo Domingo: Taller, 1976.
  • Romancero de las estrellas. Idea Vilariño, trad. Santo Domingo: Taller, 1982.


Jacques Stephen Alexis


Alexis avec Mao Tsé-toung à Pékin en 1961
D.R. © photo des archives de Gérald Bloncourt







Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Caribbean Biological Corridor against Climate Change

By Lino Luben Perez / ACN.

The Haitian, Cuban and Dominican Environment Ministers agreed in 2007 to create a Biological Corridor in the Caribbean to face climate change, which is affecting the whole region, but mostly the Haitian nation.

Representatives from these three countries met once again in Port-au-Prince two years later to carry on with this project, and to finalize the plan of action presented in the Copenhagen Climate Summit, held in the Danish capital, in December of that same year.

From the social viewpoint, the parts agreed in that the establishment of a coherent environmental policy brings about improvements in the living conditions of a territory.  

In fact, due to the socioeconomic vulnerability that has been spread for a long span, the Haitian population cut down the woods and used lumber, among other things, as fuel.

Some people believe that this Corridor would look like European green and blue strips that allow differentiating among vegetable areas or rivers that should be preserved.

These spaces lead to continuity among areas, which are characterized by their exceptional biodiversity; or are settled along migration areas of several species.

Unquestionably, the Caribbean environment safeguards immeasurable richness.

Every island in the area, whether large or small, shows significant levels of endemism and therefore, they provide unique habitats for some species.

If this initiative succeeds, which aims at protecting terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the three islands would benefit from this common environmental policy.

Specialists affirm that its implementation is vital considering proximity, which favors the spreading of pollution, the environmental regressions, and the foreseeable consequences of climate change in their ecosystems.  

In addition to the protection of the natural environment, this project could take a long stance depending on financial resources.

This Corridor would result in the creation of jobs, as agents for the protection of means and research bodies.

The main tasks of this initiative comprise reforestation, management of the main ecosystems in coastal areas, quick ecologic assessments, elements for the creation of reserves of the biosphere in Haiti, and studies on exotic invading species in La Hispanola.

Yet, as for the time being, there are no concrete actions as to the protection of marine mammals and the creation or better management of protected marine areas.  

The last meeting on this issue took place in April, 2010, and the physical location of the program and the selection and modalities for hiring administrative personnel are still under debate.

Nowadays, 15 % of the territories in the Dominican Republic and in Cuba are protected; whereas, in Haiti only less than two per cent is under protection.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How the World Failed Haiti

A year and a half after the island was reduced to rubble by an earthquake, the world's unprecedented effort to rebuild it has turned into a disaster of good intentions

By Janet Reitman
August 4, 2011 1:35 PM ET
JUAN BARRETO/AFP
 
In March of last year, two months after the devastating earthquake that killed 300,000 Haitians and left more than a million homeless, Sean Penn was faced with a monumental challenge. Penn, who had been spending most of his time in Haiti since the quake, was running a large camp for internally displaced persons in the foothills of a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince, on what had been the city's lone golf course. Nearly 60,000 poor and middle-class Haitians, most from Haiti's devastated capital, had migrated here, pouring over the crumbled walls of the exclusive country club, and established a spontaneous and overcrowded city of crude dwellings fashioned from plastic sheeting.
One night, a heavy rainstorm reduced much of the golf course to mud. Penn turned to Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, commander of the U.S. military's Joint Task Force Haiti, a 22,000-strong deployment, which was helping to lead the international relief effort. Keen immediately assigned the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a drainage plan. Before the work could begin, however, some 5,000 refugees would have to leave the golf course. The question was where to put them.
After Penn and Keen met with U.S. and Haitian officials, it was generally agreed that the best option was to relocate the refugees to an area roughly nine miles north of the capital called Corail-Cesselesse, which had recently been commandeered by the Haitian government. The area was secure, and believed to be less vulnerable to flooding than the makeshift camp. "It wasn't the ideal circumstance, but it was safe," recalls Keen. "Given the choice of living in a riverbed that was surely going to be flooded or being safe in Corail, it was a decision made out of necessity."
It fell to Penn to explain the situation to the Haitians. So he took his translator and walked to the bottom of the golf course, where some of the refugees' leaders had gathered. The men were suspicious of Penn, believing him to be in cahoots with Haiti's wealthy landowners, a small and privileged elite who had ruled the country for generations and were now trying to forcibly evict many refugees from their land, often at the point of a gun. To the people living in Penn's camp, the "optional relocation" he was proposing smacked of a prelude to a larger, mandatory exodus.
"Look," said the actor, sitting down with the Haitians in a tent. "I don't give a fuck about the rich guys who own this club." He didn't even want them to leave, he said, but what was the choice? He pulled out a map of the drainage plan the military engineers had devised. Those ditches were a necessity, he said — without them, thousands of people might die in a mudslide or flood. Then he took out a Google Earth photo of Corail, a wide swath of land, some 18,000 acres, and laid out the proposal: Each family that agreed to move to Corail would get $50, courtesy of the American Red Cross, and a hygiene kit. They would also get shelter, food rations, clean water, free medical care and a school for their kids. And they would be first in line for jobs in Korean-owned garment factories that the Haitian government pledged would soon be built in the area.
"That's the plan," Penn said. "We'll step outside, you guys decide. If it were me, I would take my kids out there rather than stay here."
Within days, thousands of refugees had agreed to move to Corail. On Saturday, April 10th, 2010, the first group left the golf course in a caravan of buses, the exodus chaperoned by United Nations peacekeepers. They arrived, disembarking onto a dusty, cactus-strewn patch of land in the shadow of a denuded mountain that turned out to be as vulnerable to the elements as the golf course. Their new homes — bright white tents set up on the baking gravel — were both hot and flimsy; three months after the refugees arrived, hundreds of the tents would blow away in a heavy windstorm. There were no schools, no markets, and the closest hospital was miles away. There were also no jobs, as the hoped-for factories would not be built for months — or even years. To return to the city meant a long walk to a bus stop followed by a several-hour commute. They were marooned.
"I went out there with our engineers, and we were all like, 'What is this? It looks like Chad,'" recalls Julie Schindall, a spokeswoman for the relief organization Oxfam, which signed on to build latrines and provide water to Corail. "I have no idea how they selected that camp. It was all done very last minute — we had to set the entire structure up in a week."
In the aftermath of the move, no one in the State Department or the Haitian government seemed willing to take responsibility for the relocation — or even for the rationale behind it. "I've yet to see any evidence that proves that anyone was in more danger on the golf course than they would have been anywhere else — though everybody in Haiti thinks they were," says a senior U.N. official who asked not to be identified. "What the move proved was that it's possible to 'save' 5,000 people if you say they're in a dangerous situation and put them in what you call a safe situation. It was the most grotesque act of cynicism that I've seen for some time."
Penn, for one, admits that Corail was a problematic choice. "It's a very vulnerable area," he says, adding that he realized this immediately, having toured the site soon after it was selected. "It struck me as desolate, but we had an emergency, and this was an emergency-relocation area — I never said it was anything else," he insists. "I feel like shit. I hope those guys are OK when it rains out there. I feel an extra responsibility — of course I do. But we were betrayed." Penn says he was assured by international monitors and aid agencies that Corail was a safe place to live, and that shelters would be built within three months. A year later, the shelters, constructed of crude plywood, were just being completed. There were still no hospitals and no factory jobs: Corail, it turns out, doesn't have enough water to supply the garment manufacturers who promised to locate there.
But the lure of would-be jobs has driven a mass migration of Haitians to the land abutting Corail. By the first anniversary of the earthquake, the population of the once-deserted territory had swelled to more than 100,000 people. "It was like the gold rush," says one U.N. official, close to the process. "Within about a week of people moving to Corail, you had all these other people rushing out there to stake their claim. People were up there buying and selling plots of land — completely illegally." The going rate, she says, was about $1,000 a plot.
Dubbed "Canaan," after the biblical promised land, the Corail region is now one of Haiti's 10 largest cities, as well as its largest and most squalid camp, a bitter irony lost on no one involved in the relief effort. "Corail is a ton of people living in a flux state, without safe shelter, who don't know what the future holds," says Schindall. "It's Haiti post-earthquake in a nutshell."
It wasn't supposed to be this way. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake on January 12th, 2010, the international community resolved not only to rebuild Haiti, but also to establish new and more efficient models for dispensing humanitarian aid. President Obama, calling the tragedy "cruel and incomprehensible," pledged "every element of our national capacity" to the response. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton created a special fund for Haiti; the American Red Cross launched a wildly successful appeal, raising close to $500 million in one year. In total, an estimated one in two American households donated more than $1.4 billion to Haiti relief, with close to $11 billion more for reconstruction pledged by donor countries and financial institutions. "We will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised during a post-quake visit to Port-au-Prince.
American and international officials gave their plan for Haiti a simple and compelling name: Building Back Better, a term that came into vogue after the tsunami that struck Asia in 2004, and that has since become something of a mantra in the development world. In a radical shift away from traditional approaches to foreign aid, "building back better" attempts to go beyond simple relief and not only to rebuild shattered structures, but to restructure, in a sense, shattered societies. At the forefront of this effort is private-sector investment being leveraged to build the kind of infrastructure needed to promote economic development and attract foreign corporations: roads, power lines, factories, markets. "The hope," explains Matthew Bishop, co-author of Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World, "is that using the private sector will be a lot more efficient. Traditional aid has been extremely wasteful. When it is allowed to take the lead, the private sector is more likely to try something new or entrepreneurial."
But despite all that has been promised, almost nothing has been built back in Haiti, better or otherwise. Within Port-au-Prince, some 3 million people languish in permanent misery, subject to myriad experiments at "fixing" a nation that, to those who are attempting it, stubbornly refuses to be fixed. Mountains of rubble remain in the streets, hundreds of thousands of people continue to live in weather-beaten tents, and cholera, a disease that hadn't been seen in Haiti for 60 years, has swept over the land, infecting more than a quarter million people.
In the midst of such suffering, only a fraction of the money devoted to Haitian relief has actually been spent. This May, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that of the $1.14 billion allocated by Congress for Haiti last year, only $184 million has been "obligated." In a letter to the Obama administration this spring, 53 Democratic members of Congress blasted the "appalling" conditions in the refugee camps. "The unprecedented relief effort has given way to a sluggish, at best, reconstruction effort," said Rep. Barbara Lee, who is demanding an accounting of how the relief money is being spent. There is, she said, a "lack of urgency on the part of the international community."
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Haiti Reconstruction: Natural disasters

Haiti's quake homeless wait as tropical storm approaches

More than 600,000 Haitians in makeshift camps face prospect of mudslides and flash floods when Emily makes landfall
    Tropical storm Emily
    Tropical storm Emily brings rough seas to Malecón, Dominican Republic. The storm is expected to bring heavy rain to Haiti. Photograph: Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images
    Hundreds of thousands of Haitians still living in makeshift camps following last year's devastating earthquakes are braced for heavy rain and winds as tropical storm Emily approaches. Forecasters predict the storm will make landfall on Haiti's southern peninsula, bringing the threat of mudslides and flash floods. More than 600,000 people still live without shelter after the earthquake in January 2010, which killed at least 46,000. "If any storm comes, we meet our demise," said Renel Joseph, a 57-year-old resident of Cite Soleil, a seaside shantytown of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. David Preux, head of mission for the International Organisation for Migration in the southern city of Jacmel, said that he expected conditions to worsen during the night: "The problem is when people wait until the last minute to evacuate." The storm's forward motion slowed on Wednesday night and it appeared likely to skirt the southern tip of the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Emily had maximum sustained winds of 50mph (80kph). Dominican authorities kept a tropical storm warning in effect for the south-western coast but ended an alert on Wednesday night from Cabo Francés Viejo south-eastwards to Cabo Engaño. Although the centre of the storm seemed likely to miss most of the island, intense rain still posed a threat to both countries, said Diana Goeller, a meteorologist with the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC). The countries are divided by a range of high mountains. "This storm has a lot of heavy rainfall with it," Goeller told the Associated Press. "So in those mountainous areas there could be very dangerous, life-threatening mudslides or flash floods." John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist with the NHC, said up to 20 inches (51cm) of rain was possible in high-elevation areas. That is enough to cause serious problems in a country prone to catastrophic flooding. Michel Davison of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the storm earlier dropped up to 10 inches of rain in parts of Puerto Rico, though its centre never got within 100 milesof the island. Francois Prophete, who was shoring up the corrugated-metal roof of his one-room cinder block home in the hills south-east of Port-au-Prince, said most people had few options in a nation where the vast majority are desperately poor. "We can't afford to do much," he said. Local authorities urged people to conserve food and safeguard their belongings. An unknown number of people left flood-prone areas to stay with relatives and friends, said Emmanuelle Schneider, a spokeswoman for the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. There had been no government-organised evacuations by late on Wednesday, she added. "There will be an official evacuation when there's flooding," Schneider said. There was reason for concern. A slow-moving storm in June triggered mudslides and floods in Haiti and killed at least 28 people. And widespread poverty makes it difficult for people to take even the most basic precautions. Joceline Alcide stashed her two childrens' birth certificates and school papers in little plastic bags that aid groups handed out. It was her only means to protect herself. "There really isn't much more we can do. We just got these bags," the 39-year-old said, standing outside her tarpaulin shelter. The Guardian