Building Homes

Children in IDP camp, Port-ua-Prince

Emergency Response to the 2010 Earthquake

During the weeks following the disaster, Haven distributed over 7,000 tarpaulins to families in temporary camps, an action that has had a direct impact on approximately 42,000 people by providing them with some privacy from the elements. But this was just the first step to ensuring long-term stable and secure accommodation.

Transitional Shelter

Once tarpaulins were provided, the focus of the Shelter Cluster switched to the provision of more long term housing solutions. With the support of Plan International, Oxfam America, and the American Red Cross, Haven has built 625 ‘Transitional’ or ‘T-Shelters’, enabling 625 families move from a campsite to a semi- permanent, hurricane proof shelter.

Permanent Housing

Gabion House ConstructionHaven is building permanent homes in earthquake affected areas also. These tend to be built using traditional blockwork methods, and corrugated sheeting for roofs. We are also investigating new housing methods in an effort to find efficient, and sustainable, long term solutions for Haiti. Haven has built two prefabricated houses as part of a pilot programme, sponsored by Digicel. The houses are semi-detached and are made from cement fibre panels.

Haven is also piloting the Gabion House, which uses rubble as the chief component. This project is in partnership with Oxfam America and the International Federation of the Red Cross, and uses 40 gabion baskets filled with recycled rubble to build a permanent house.

Upgrades to Existing Homes

Volunteer House BuildAs part of our repairs programme, Haven works with the beneficiary on the site of their own home. A survey of the building is carried out, and tasks are identified necessary to bring the house back to pre-earthquake standard or better. This system is particularly effective as families can continue to live in their existing communities, and allows them to avail of their existing source of income. Haven are currently running a house upgrade programme on the island of Ile a Vache. 

Our Approach

Haven’s construction projects are implemented using two approaches: boss-driven and owner-driven. Both approaches ensure that houses are built to national building standards, and are hence earthquake- and hurricane-resistant. Moreover, we strive to ensure all construction projects are strongly participatory in nature, with project participants playing a lead role in house design.

For the owner-driven approach, Haven trains the project participants in quality control monitoring and basic construction techniques. The participant then oversees the construction process, with support from Haven's on-site engineers. This strategy reinforces existing cultural systems and modes of operation: people build or manage the construction of their own house, buy their own materials and hire labourers of their own choosing.

For the boss-driven approach, Haven recruits and trains Haitian labourers in construction techniques, with a strong emphasis on earthquake-resistant construction. This ensures training of the local community and equips them with life-long skills.

To date Haven has provided safe housing for over 14,220 people living in Haiti. 

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