Haiti: CSTB's expertise available to local authorities

No-one has forgotten pictures of the earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince and part of Haiti on January 12 this year.  Aid was offered from many sources and the French government set up an interministerial mission for reconstruction of the country (MIRH).  This is the context in which CSTB was asked to visit Haiti and work with the Haitian government and the main manufacturers involved in the building industry on the island in order to examine local construction practices.  The purpose was to draw up an inventory to offer technical assistance to local authorities, including setting up construction codes adapted to the local context, particularly the high seismicity of the island.

Two CSTB engineers were sent to Haiti for this observation mission from February 24 to March 3, 2010.  "As a result of meetings previously scheduled by staff of the Foreign Office, we quickly got in contact with local managers working at the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications (MTPTC), Nicolas Taillefer tells us.  And we were able to easily hold discussions with our peers in the National Laboratory of Building and Public Works (LNBTP)."  Primarily contacts were followed  by other meetings with professionals.  Thus, CSTB representatives visited two operational concrete block and ready-mixed concrete production plants, design offices, construction sites, etc.

Preparing for future cooperation

Specifically, the CSTB engineers' visit improved knowledge of the Haitian market. It also provided an opportunity to determine how CSTB could propose technical support  to MTPTC.  "We felt a strong expectation for cooperation, says Nicolas Taillefer.  Priority should be given to developing effective construction control procedures in order to improve the current situation."

Therefore, CSTB proposed to set up a partnership agreement with its contacts in Haiti, in which a proposal can be made for a first technical assistance mission to the client to set up local earthquake design rules.  This will require further investigations and long-term cooperation.