Haiti: UN-backed project for assessing quake damage to buildings surpasses target

22 July 2010

More than 200,000 buildings in Haiti have been assessed for structural damage after January’s massive earthquake as part of United Nations-backed efforts to boost reconstruction activities in the Caribbean country.

Local engineers have vastly exceeded their assessment targets, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) said in a press release issued today. The original target had been 100,000 buildings.

UNOPS is working with Haitian Government ministries and the seismic engineering contractor Miyamoto International to run the project, which was financed by the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. At least 280 local engineers have been trained to check the safety of buildings.

The engineers have been targeting the worst-affected areas in Port-au-Prince, the capital, and physically inspecting buildings before tagging them with green, yellow or red paint according to the extent of damage. Priority is being given to schools and homes in districts where camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) are the most crowded.

The details of the buildings and their damage levels are then entered into a database which is being used by officials for reconstruction planning. Social workers are also accompanying the engineers as they work to explain to local residents the purpose and nature of the assessments.

UNOPS reported that so far just under half of the assessed buildings have been found to have no structural damage, so they can be reoccupied. But about a quarter of the buildings seen have so much damage that they will probably need to be torn down.

More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the 12 January quake, while 1.3 million others more were left homeless.


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