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Milestone Reached in Haiti: Over One Million Cubic Meters of Rubble Removed

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It’s a weekday morning under a blazing sun and Jean Francklin Cadet is pacing up and down the corridors of his house waiting to give his feedback on the debris removal undertaken in his neighborhood. Before the earthquake, Cadet lived a four-bedroom house. After the disaster he tried to remove the debris himself, but soon ran out of money. He was only able to complete the work with the help of CHF.

“It’s a good initiative, as I could not find the means to completely clear the site,” explains Cadet. With the land cleared, he was able to set up a transitional shelter where he now lives with his family.

CHF International working with local and international partners has reached a milestone in Haiti. Under the implementation of several different programs, including CLEARS, CRUSH, NDDR, CLEAN, KATYE, DEL 9 DDR and most recently, DEBRIS ll, CHF has removed more than one million cubic meters of rubble. In addition to allowing displaced families return to their homes, the debris removal activities has created more than 20,000 short-term jobs providing much-needed income for local residents. Additionally, more than 40 percent of those employed through cash-for-work programs were women.

Two types of clearing modes were used within the operations – manual clearing and mechanical clearing. Manual clearing was prioritized in densely populated communities where transportation of heavy mechanical equipment was not feasible. In terms of mechanical clearing, heavy equipment including bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks were used to clear streets and hundreds of private and public buildings. In order to determine which areas get cleared, CHF established a mobilization team. This team works with the local councils and authorities and community leaders to help identify the owners of houses to be demolished. Once an application authorizing the demolition is completed by the owner, cash-for-work teams are hired by community leaders and elected officials. The debris is transported to two processing landfill sites which have been officially identified by the local authorities. Debris will be recycled and used by local officials as part of the rehabilitation work for some roads.

Philippe Saint Louis, is another beneficiary of the debris removal activities. Her home was completely destroyed in the earthquake, but after her land was cleared under the DEBRIS II program, she was motivated to join a cash-forwork team herself. The 28-year-old mother, feels proud to be to helping others in her neighborhood. Residents like Cadet and Saint Louis are hopeful that the Haitian government and the international community will continue to work together to remove the debris that still clogs roads and homes and remains one of the major challenges to reconstruction.

“I am happy to be part of the team working to clear up my neighborhood. Given that I am the only woman on the team, I am really proud…This activity allowed me to save a little money which will help pay my son’s tuition fees for the new school year.”