Lessons from Haiti: How to build safer cities
By Flavie Halais
The multifaceted dimension of risk in Haiti has made it difficult for humanitarian and development organizations to operate in a traditional framework that sees organizations in sectors such as health, water and sanitation, or disaster relief working in isolation from each other
In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, international NGOs had to grapple with the urban reality of natural disasters. While their course of action in rural areas had focused on assisting individual households, in Port-au-Prince one priority was to rebuild public infrastructure, and restore access to services.
J/P HRO was one of several organizations that set out to implement neighborhood reconstruction projects across the city throughout the 2010s. The thinking was that if it worked at a small scale, it could achieve high impact with limited funding, and in the absence of a city-wide reconstruction plan.
Although restricted in size, the projects have been credited for achieving some significant results, some of them highly symbolic. They brought attention to marginalized communities, demonstrated the real possibility to upgrade informal neighborhoods, and provided stakeholders with best practices and data that could be reused for decades to come.