Dr. Clos walking up a footpath/stairs that have been paved by UN-Habitat with interlocking pavers that were recycled from earthquake rubble and that include an open drainage system. He is accompanied by community actors as well as UN-Habitat staff. Photo Julius Mwelu/UN-Habitat |
Nearly four years after the devastating earthquake laid Port-au-Prince to ruins, UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos this week visited the city and toured projects implemented by the agency in the metropolitan area.
The earthquake of 12 January 2010 caused massive damages to huge swathes of the city and the United Nations swung into action to help in rehabilitation and giving the residents a chance to rebuild their lives.
Dense hillside neighbourhoods in Carrefour-Feuilles benefitted from a joint United Nations project that included demolition of houses destroyed beyond repair by the earthquake, debris removal and recycling as well as community planning for neighbourhood reconstruction and upgrading. UN-Habitat facilitated the participatory preparation of community reconstruction and development plans.
Since the project did not foresee the implementation of these plans, UN-Habitat mobilised additional resources through personal fund-raising efforts by the staff of its Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean to realise a project in the Saieh neighbourhood that demonstrates the reutilisation of earthquake rubble in the form of building materials for the improvement of public urban space and pedestrian mobility. Through the piloting of indirect community contracting via a local NGO, UN-Habitat paved 500 m2 of public urban space with 12,500 interlocking pavers made from recycled rubble, constructed 250 m of footpath with drainage, including 100 m2 of stairs. Local youth were promoted through the construction of a shelter for watching football tournaments and a stage for cultural performances.
On his visit, Dr. Clos engaged community leaders in a discussion and visited a home whose owner had repaired and invested in the improvement of her house after the paved footpath had made it more accessible and thus enhanced its value.
Dr. Clos’ visit to this slum community was part of his 2-day visit to Haiti during which he met President Martelly, several Ministers and Mayors and entered into a public dialogue with Michèle Oriol, the Executive Secretary of the Committee on Land Use Planning (CIAT) in Haiti.
In this dialogue, the Executive Director recommended that the Haitian authorities go beyond the upgrading of existing unplanned settlements and focus on planned city extensions based on large-enough land plots that will allow initially poor neighbourhoods to evolve into middle-class communities that collect taxes for regular services provision.
At this occasion, Dr. Clos signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Haitian Committee on Land Use Planning that covers the following joint activities: customization of the Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) for the Haitian national land tenure security project; the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) to be implemented in the pilot city of Les Cayes; the Global Public Urban Space Programme and support to the establishment of a national urban forum.