Haitians clear half of all rubble

Residents remove rubble from their collapsed house in Haiti

More than 40 percent of the 10 million cubic metres of rubble caused by last year's Haiti earthquake has been removed in one of the largest-scale clearance operations of its kind by the United Nations and partners, coordinated by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Homeowners and private enterprises have cleared an additional 10 percent of the debris.

UNDP Haiti's Senior Country Director, Jessica Faieta said "It's been a colossal task," adding that "for the past 20 months [they]'ve been working non-stop with the Government of Haiti, civil society organizations, the international community, and especially with community members, in this epic-scale clean-up."

Faieta stressed that advances since the 12 January earthquake last year need to be measured against the scale of problems faced in the Western hemisphere's poorest country where 200,000 lost their lives—including 30 percent of civil servants—and crucial infrastructure was destroyed.

Over 80,000 buildings in the capital city Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas collapsed after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck, leaving a mass of concrete, steel and other debris, equivalent to 4,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Around two million cubic metres of debris had been cleared one year after the quake.

Together with the Haitian government, UNDP coordinates the activities of nearly 50 in-country partners—national and international non-governmental organizations, the private sector and sister UN agencies—to map all debris-related initiatives in affected areas.

UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator, Nigel Fisher, said "these debris removal initiatives are crucial for the reconstruction of Haiti," explaining that "[they] are working towards the rehabilitation of neighbourhoods and improvement of living conditions through access to basic services so Haitians can return home safely."

The UN is also supporting the government to finalize a National Debris Management Strategy to establish tracking tools, rubble-removal and recycling standards and to prepare governmental and non-governmental partners for future debris-generating natural disasters.

Guided by the national plan, the government is expected to approve additional rubble processing sites throughout the capital. To date, clearance workers have relied on a single processing site two hours away by road from the majority of damaged areas in Port-Au-Prince.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 2’05″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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