Haiti conference

Wayne Pennington, USAID, Cari Ehav, US Department of State, and Olga Cabello, IRIS Consortium, participated in the forum about reconstructing Haiti.

Andrea Concepcion // Staff Writer

The University of Miami hosted a two-day workshop for scientists and engineers across the globe to come together and make recommendations on how to rebuild Haiti and decrease the threat of future disasters.

The National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction (SDR) is a U.S. committee that finds strategies to reduce the risk of natural disaster.  In February, a month after the Haiti earthquake SDR got expertise from around the world on the situation.

“We’re trying to share our information and share with those that don’t have it,” said Cari Enav, deputy director of the Office of Human Rights, Humanitarian and Social Affairs.

A public forum was held on the first day, March 22nd, with Eric Calais, a geophysicist and Reginald DesRoches, a civil and environmental engineer.

Calais presented Earthquake 101, where he talked about the source of the earthquake, fault lines, the people and structures affected and future quakes to come.

DesRoches’ presentation stated that 30 to 65 percent of buildings collapsed and 250,000 resident homes were damaged in Port-au-Prince. A few reasons for such high damage were first stories of buildings were weak, lack of appropriate tools to straighten columns and lack of steel bar support.

“One thing we look for is not the strength of the structure, but duct ability where it can bend,” DesRoches said.

The most challenging aspects facing Haiti’s reconstruction is that the structures must tie in with the socio-economic situation and be cost effective.  Most prominently considered in the discussion were code development and a change in government policies.

The members of the public and university community then had the change to ask questions: should the capital be away from the water? What were we doing for the short-term? Where was the debris going?

Enav felt it important to open up the forum to the public.

“You could bring an average person who brings a lot to the table that we don’t know,” she said.

A conference with the Haitian government will be held in the School of Architecture this week.  The UN has set a goal of $11 billion dollars for the reconstruction of Haiti.  The proposals from these two conferences will be given to the UN at the Haiti Donor Conference, on March 31st, where countries and international organizations will pledge resources