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Haiti Rebuid: Let’s Learn from the FEMA Fiasco

haiti_rebuilding_240x350My thoughts go out to the people of Haiti as rescue efforts continue. Getting food, water, and medical care to those in need are priorities now,  and I encourage everyone to donate or volunteer to assemble aid shipments.

Thoughts of rebuilding are already emerging. George H. Miller and Christine W. McEntee, President and Executive Vice President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently sent and E-mail to the organization’s membership addressing the future rebuilding efforts in Haiti.  After stressing the immediate need for financial assistance and encouraging architects to volunteer for rescue effort tasks, the letter goes on to describe how the profession can assist with the next phase of relief efforts: rebuilding. Read the full letter here. The AIA is working with the US Green Building Council (USGBC); Red Cross; United Nations Envoy to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton; and Architecture for Humanity to discuss ways for architects to offer expertise. From the letter: “We are discussing ideas with Architecture for Humanity on how architects can provide on-the-ground design guidance in Haiti so local citizens can seek qualified counsel as they rebuild their homes, businesses, and lives.”

Following the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the AIA, USGBC, and Architecture for Humanity contributed design services for countless projects in affected areas. The projects focused on green and affordable rebuilding. Designs for green and “off-grid” buildings, homes, and alternatives to FEMA trailers were developed. While many of these exemplary projects were built, many others were not. Despite the many efforts of the profession’s organizations to have all FEMA trailers constructed in a healthy and green manner, the typical FEMA trailer contains unhealthy levels of formaldehyde and other toxins. Read more about the FEMA formaldehyde fiasco here.

Here is hoping that the Haiti Quake rebuilding efforts will be more successful. We have the knowledge and capability to rebuild in a better way. We owe it to ourselves and the people of Haiti to proceed in a healthy, responsible, and respectful manner. Architecture for Humanity’s approach to bring expertise to Haiti, rather than a top-down approach seems more likely to succeed.

Check out Architecture for Humanity’s Haiti Quake Appeal.

Paypal is covering all of their charges for donations through February 12th. Want another reason to support Architecture for Humanity? The organization is very transparent, clearly showing a nifty little bar graph with their fundraising costs, administrative costs, and the actual amount that is directed to design and construction services.

Again, my thoughts go out to the people of Haiti.

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