Great success for campaign in Haiti

05.06.2014

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been working to develop earthquake and hurricane-resistant schools in Haiti since 2010 and has developed three building types (reinforced concrete, enclosed masonry and timber frame) for simple but safe school buildings. Engineers from Basler & Hofmann have been involved in the work from the outset and supported the process with their technical expertise. Now the team can enjoy the success of its tireless efforts: by ministerial decree of 1 April 2014, Haiti’s ministry of education has declared the three construction types the obligatory standard for all new school buildings in Haiti.

Two-storey school made of reinforced concrete

National standard for school buildings

One of the focal points of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Haiti is the reconstruction of schools that were destroyed in the major earthquake of 2010. The objective of the Swiss effort is earthquake and hurricane-resistant school buildings for the country, which is so susceptible to natural hazards. In close cooperation with the Haitian authorities, the project team has developed three school building types adapted to the different local conditions in Haiti to provide a safe place of learning. The reinforced concrete and enclosed masonry construction types have been built and tested. The wood building type is currently under construction. The three construction types have been declared the obligatory standard for all new school buildings by Haiti’s Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training. This represents an extraordinary success for the tireless work of the teams on site – and at the same time an important step towards a uniform and acceptable level of quality in the construction of new schools. 

The first two reinforced concrete schools built by the SDC were inaugurated in October 2012 and six schools are currently under construction. The SDC plans to build a further 10 or so schools by the end of 2017. Thanks to the new standards, now even schools that are financed by other organisations will also be built to earthquake and hurricane-proof standards. That is a major milestone for Haiti. The great challenge now is to ensure quality in the construction process as well.

Construction types in line with local conditions

The three building types differ primarily in terms of construction and material, which must be adapted to local conditions. For example, a two-storey reinforced concrete structure is designed for urban settings with limited space. In easily accessible rural areas, a single-storey construction of enclosed masonry is recommended. In remote areas that can be reached only by foot or pack animal, the standard calls for a simple timber structure.