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A collaborative project providing technical expertise to local and international organisations rebuilding Haiti after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake has received a Special Mention as a Finalist in this year’s World Habitat Awards.

Promoting local building cultures, coordinated by CRAterre, supported the post-disaster response in a way that reduces future risk to human life and dependency on external aid.

The magnitude-7 tremor and subsequent aftershocks in 2010 killed hundreds of thousands of people, left millions homeless and destroyed much of Haiti’s infrastructure.

The lack of national building standards and poor construction methods needed to be addressed urgently to cope with future natural disasters. CRAterre recognised the need for a more unified approach and favoured improving existing local construction techniques over the standardised industrial methods typically employed in post-disaster rebuilds.

By studying and then adapting local building practices; training Haitian construction professionals; and distributing educational materials, CRAterre promoted safer, more effective and locally sustainable building techniques.

When Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, thousands of homes and dozens of public buildings constructed using these practices suffered less damage than other buildings, demonstrating how CRAterre’s methodologies can improve resilience and response to natural disasters and ultimately save lives.

Antoine Jean-Baptise, who helped with the construction of her new house, said: “I provided stones, sand and water to the craftsmen. I am proud of myself for participating and I am grateful to those who helped us. I am happy to know that the local builders are ready in case of a natural disaster and they are building more resilient houses now, due to the training received.”

David Ireland, Director of World Habitat, said: “This is a great example of how to empower local people and communities by improving their traditional building methods, so they can withstand future disasters.”

The World Habitat Awards Advisory Group said: “This project reached isolated places during very difficult times in Haiti. It is rare to see a developmental approach in emergency situations – in Haiti this is absolutely unique.”

Each year the World Habitat Awards are presented to ten of the most outstanding and innovative housing projects from across the world. In 2018 over 200 projects and programmes entered the Awards.

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