Buildings under construction in Haiti will not be able to resist future earthquakes, experts have said, writes Roxane McMeeken.
The warning comes despite the the RICS’ call for better building methods. The institution was brought in by the UN to help write a reconstruction plan after the January earthquake.
At a forum held by Oxfam last week, Robert Muir, a surveyor with Build Aid, a charity that advises on rebuilding after natural disasters, said the structures had the same weaknesses as previous buildings. “Local people and non-governmental organisations must be given training in how to build because buildings under construction now are not safe.”
The structural problems that caused buildings to collapse included the use of unreinforced hollow block masonry and uncut stone (which can fall out of walls more easily than stone cut to slot into the wall) and the absence of band beams to reinforce walls.
Earlier this month the RICS sent an adviser to Haiti to work with Habitat for Humanity, a charity that is training 32 Haitians to rapidly assess building damage.
We are not on the ground in Haiti and we are not pretending to be the Red Cross
Shailesh Kataria, director of the RICS Disaster Management Commission, said the institution was one of many actors and could only do so much. “We’re influencing government and donor policies, and providing built environment professionals to support local agencies.”
Shailesh Kataria, director of the RICS Disaster Management Commission, who is leading the body’s work in Haiti, said it could only do so much to influence the process. “We are trying to support local agencies. We are not on the ground in Haiti and we are not pretending to be the Red Cross.”
Kubilay Hicyilmaz, an earthquake engineer at Arup, warned that people were also rebuilding their homes using unsafe materials salvaged from the rubble. “The rebar and stone that people are reusing must not be used as it not safe.”
Muir added it could take 30 years to complete the £7.5bn of reconstruction work required in Haiti. The earthquake killed nearly 200,000 people, left 1.5 million homeless, and damaged or destroyed 2,500 schools and nearly all government buildings.