The tragic consequences of the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010 mainly stem from a lack of awareness of the seismic threat combined with the extreme vulnerability of the country’s urban centers. Haiti’s exposure to earthquakes and other natural hazards such as hurricanes, floods, landslides, or tsunamis is very high. Their impact is exacerbated in urban centers because of the high population density, the use of inappropriate construction practices with regard to earthquakes, and the lack of consideration for natural hazards in land occupation. It is essential to help the country develop strategies for adapting its urban centers to natural hazards in order to protect life as well as socio-economical investments during future events.
Because of its long history of support to the Haitian government on issues related to risk and disaster management, UNDP agreed in 2010 to support the Government of Haiti in the definition and implementation of a strategy for reducing earthquake risk. Recent activities have included the production of a "roadmap" for seismic risk reduction, the delivery of a preliminary seismic zonation map for the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, the coordination of a seismic microzonation study for all major urban centers, the support to the development of a national seismic monitoring network, the initiation of international academic collaborations on geohazards with Haitian universities. In addition, the DRM unit has developed, with the Ministry of the Interior (which heads the National System for Disaster Risk Management), a project to reduce seismic risk for the north of Haiti with an integrated approach including seismic zoning, building assessments and retrofitting, professional training, policy development, public education and outreach.
More recently, UNDP agreed to support the newly formed Unité de Construction, Logement et Bâtiments Publics (UCLBP, which now leads all major reconstruction projects under the prime minister’s office) to include risk assessment and mitigation practices in every project definition and implementation. A methodology for including risk assessment into urban planning and neighborhood improvement has been defined and is currently being implemented, as a test-bed, within the “16 neighborhoods – 6 camps” project lead by UCLBP. This risk reduction methodology is poised to become a national standard. However, significant efforts are still needed to consolidate the methodology, ensure that national capacities exist to implement it, and embed it in a sustainable institutional framework.
As the work program of UNDP's disaster risk management unit progresses, the unit is in need of additional staff to assist the tasks associated with risk identification and reduction. The incumbent for this position will work within UNDP's disaster risk management unit and will assist the implementation of current activities as well as the development of new ones related to assessing risk and developing strategies to reduce vulnerability. The post holder will have an important role in helping to coordinate UNDP's network of international experts working in those areas. The post is a Development Project Funded (DPF) post.
Under the supervision of the Disaster Risk Reduction Head of Unit:
Urban and Seismic risk reduction:
• Assist in the organization of meetings and events that promote risk reduction;
• Inform and assist UCLBP in defining and implementing risk identification and reduction measures in their activities;
• Coordinate international advisory support to the government of Haiti and UNDP DRM and other relevant units in natural hazard and risk reduction;
• Act as a technical liaison with relevant government institutions including Bureau des Mines, the National Laboratory for Public Works etc.
• Act as a technical liaison for UNDP with the national microzonation program;
• Act as a technical liaison for UNDP with the “Plan Séisme Nord”;
• Help to identify lessons learned/policy implications from the UNDP Plan Nord project and to promote them nationally.
• Provide support to the members of the Permanent Committee for Risk and Disaster Management (SPGRD) and to the Direction de la Protection Civile (DPC) in their understanding of natural hazards and risks;
• Advise National System for Risk and Disaster Management thematic groups, in particular, the thematic group on Citizen Information and Sensitization (CTESP), to incorporate risk reduction into their activities.
Strategic support to UNDP's Disaster Risk Management programming:
• Participate in interagency collaboration and partnership building in the area of natural risk management;
• Inform and provide support to UNDP and other relevant agencies to incorporate the issues related with natural hazards into their activities;
• Participate in the elaboration of a strategy for UNDP's risk and disaster management program and in monitoring activities.
This post will contribute to promoting government led, coherent support of the international community to national capacity to effectively reduce the risk posed by natural hazards in particular to urban communities. A significant focus of the work will concern seismic risk reduction, where the incumbent will need to provide technical and management support to existing projects such as the “Plan Séisme Nord”, the national microzonation program, and the development of a national seismic network. The incumbent will also be expected to develop new projects. Another important focus of the work will concern multi-risk reduction plans for urban centers.
Through this post UNDP will contribute at a strategic level through the support for coherent, multi-donor strategies, to support a sustainable risk reduction strategies for Haiti. The post will depend upon helping UNDP and the government of Haiti to convene international expertise in support of government. The ultimate intention is to promote coherent international agency support to both areas of risk identification and ultimately reduction.
• At minimum a Masters degree in Earth or Environmental Sciences, Geological Engineering, Civil/Geotechnical Engineering, or similar academic fields.
• 5-year minimum of relevant work experience in the field of hazard assessment and/or risk reduction;
• Substantive scientific understanding of natural hazards (in particular – but not only – seismic);
• Substantive technical understandingof vulnerability reduction measures adapted to a development context;
• Previous experience of working with UN agencies or international organizations operating in development would be an advantage;
• Previous experience of working with developing country governments is required and solid knowledge of aid management challenges including working with a range of development partners would be an advantage;
• Strong interpersonal skills and ability to communicate and work well with diverse people: race, nationality, age and gender sensitivity;
• Prior experience of working in a developing country is an advantage.
• Fluency in French and English;
• Knowledge of Haitian Creole and Spanish is an asset.