Displaced Haitians Could Be Home Within 12 to 24 Months, Expert Says

Oct 29, 2010, 12:39 ET from Pan American Development Foundation

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many of 1.3 million Haitians living in crowded displacement camps could be back in safe homes within 12 months to 24 months, says earthquake structural engineer and post-disaster expert Dr. Kit Miyamoto.

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Working with the Pan American Development Foundation, in cooperation with the Haitian Ministry of Public Works (MTPTC) and the UN's Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Miyamoto and a MTPTC team of 250 specially trained structural engineers are wrapping up the most comprehensive inspection of 400,000 homes in the capital.

Despite the widespread damage caused by the quake, approximately 20 percent of dwellings are unsafe and should be demolished – while 50 percent are safe for occupancy and some 30 percent are in need of repairs.

"In most cases, these homes can be repaired in less than three days for $1,000 to $1500 each," says Miyamoto, who spoke at an Organization of American States meeting on Oct. 27. "The math adds up. That means 800,000 people could leave the camps and go to repaired homes."

Miyamoto says the speed by which the people can leave the camps depends on money to repair the homes. "The Haitian engineers and MTPTC are doing a very effective job," Miyamoto says. "Their work ethic is admirable."

Amy Coughenour, deputy executive director of PADF, adds: "The emphasis now needs to be on rebuilding neighborhoods, returning families to their homes and restoring livelihoods. It is critical that we and other groups receive the financial support to carry out this important mission."

Miyamoto, who was driven by PADF into Port-au-Prince a week after the devastating earthquake, has worked in more than 20 post disaster countries, including China, Indonesia and Turkey. He and his firm have remained in Haiti since January. www.ImUnitedforHaiti.org

PADF, with a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, contracted Miyamoto International to train Haitian structural engineers under the MTPTC management to inspect buildings and "tag" them using international standards: A red tag indicates heavy damage and is unsafe; yellow tag indicates some damages; green tag means it is safe for occupancy.

In addition to PADF's 100 engineers, Miyamoto has trained an additional 500 for the MTPTC. These MTPTC engineers have inspected 320,000 buildings in the earthquake affected area.

Together, MTPTC, PADF and Miyamoto are now training masons and contractors to repair 2,000 yellow-tagged homes.

During the inspection process, the engineers identified 12 types of crack patterns – which are spray painted on the wall. When contractors arrive to a yellow-tagged home, they are able to match the inspection with government-authorized repairs.

"Our job is to be professors," says Miyamoto of the program to train Haitian masons. "The masons ask questions all the time. Their masons are quite good. We just need to refine their techniques. It doesn't take much to bring them up to international standards."

About PADF

PADF is a non-profit organization established in 1962 to promote, facilitate, and implement social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the past year, it had more than 10 million beneficiaries in 22 countries. www.padf.org  

PADF is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in Haiti. With nearly three decades of work on the ground, PADF now manages a large portfolio of activities ranging from community-driven development to protecting human rights. www.ImUnitedforHaiti.org  

PADF is based in Washington, D.C., and has field offices in Haiti, Colombia and elsewhere. www.padf.org

About Miyamoto International

Miyamoto International is a global earthquake and structural engineering firm providing critical services that sustain industries and communities around the world. The firm specializes in High Performance Earthquake Engineering solutions that reduce lifecycle costs and realize a positive net impact on a structure's operation. Miyamoto helps tackle some of the most challenging projects in the world from diverse offices in the Americas, Asia and Europe. The firm's clients include governments, private-sector organizations, developers, architects and contractors who desire highly effective and sustainable technical solutions. www.MiyamotoInternational.com

Donations: (877) 572-4484

SOURCE Pan American Development Foundation