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Habitat for Humanity leverages Haitian Diaspora to bring urgently needed expertise to the government of Haiti

USAID/OFDA-funded ECAP project helps build capacity in shelter and settlement response.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 11, 2011) The earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, damaged or destroyed more than 190,000 homes and left an estimated 1.5 million Haitians without shelter.

In consultation with the Haitian government, Habitat for Humanity and NGO partners Development Innovations Group (DIG) and Build Change are recruiting and placing experts from the Haitian Diaspora to provide community-focused, technical support to help the Haitian government make critical decisions related to shelter and settlement. This Emergency Community Assistance and Planning program (ECAP) will run through February 2011 and is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development through its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Under ECAP, 13 experts (Resident Advisors) have been placed in Haitian government institutions, including the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC); the Ministry of Public Works, Transportation, and Communication; the Ministry of Interior, Territorial Collectivities and National Security; and the National Laboratory for Building and Public Works. Resident Advisors consult with and provide expertise to government officials, supporting them to make decisions related to reconstruction and resettlement planning, including debris removal, hazard risk mapping, logistics and transportation, cultural conservation/preservation, agency work and progress coordination.

“ECAP helps to fill critical gaps by providing skills and expertise that are desperately needed within the government at this time,” said Mark Andrews, vice president, Haiti Recovery, Habitat for Humanity International. “Haitian Diaspora was a natural place to identify and recruit individuals who not only have the skill-set but also a vested interest in rebuilding Haiti.”

To date, Resident Advisors have mapped current debris sites, created hazard risk guidelines for reconstruction, developed a strategy for debris management, designed a model training curriculum to assist local municipalities and delivered training to Haitian civil engineers in municipal engineering. Resident Advisors also mentored Haitian junior professionals within the government.

“The project is very relevant and beneficial to Haitian public institutions, said Rose-May Guignard of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Territorial Planning, in the Prime Minister’s office. “It is enabling us to have access to the expertise of people from Haitian communities outside of Haiti, who in turn are given an opportunity to serve their native country and put their skills toward the reconstruction efforts in Haiti.”

About Habitat for Humanity Haiti
Habitat for Humanity has been at work in Haiti for 27 years and has provided housing solutions through a variety of initiatives including new home construction, progressive building, home repairs and improvements. Habitat also builds capacity in construction skills, disaster risk reduction and financial literacy, and works in coordination with community and government agencies. For more information, visit www.Habitat.org/haiti.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 400,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 2 million people. For more information, or to donate or volunteer, visit www.habitat.org.