Thursday, January 28, 2010

After the Quake: Reconstruction

(Example of earthquake resilience technology.  Source:

People are still waiting for the basic necessities: food, water, shelter, medical care.  Relief workers on the ground are sending back desperate messages for more supplies, including items as simple as tents.  However, a conference was held earlier this week in Montreal discussing a new "Ten-year Plan" for Haiti.  What about all the prior reconstruction and relief plans the international community has attempted to provide for Haiti?  A commitment of financial aid alone will not suffice for actual reconstruction and future mitigation from another devastating earthquake.  These funds and plans will need to be backed by a commitment from the Haitian government at all levels (national to local) to use these funds directly for rebuilding that meets a new level of standards for structures.  Architecture and engineering and materials sciences have made vast progress in the past few decades in structural design and capabilities that can prevent the horrific scenes we are witnessing in Haiti.  Disasters do not strike low-income and high-income countries equally.  However, if the international community and the Haitian government agree to knowledge translation and the transfer of technology to Haiti, only then can we avert another crisis.  Haiti cannot be built back to the way it was; it needs to be built to the way it should have been before January 2010.

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