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Industry News

Haitian Relief Efforts Improve as Donated Solar Lights are Installed
SOL Inc.’s solar lights are shining brightly all night long, expanding relief and recovery efforts at several Port-au-Prince sites following the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010. Solar lights donated by SOL Inc have already been installed at University Hospital, International Airport, UN Logistics Base and Hotel Montana within days of the disaster for quick, immediate and reliable illumination for victims and volunteers. The first phase of SOL Inc.’s pledge to provide $300,000 in solar lights has been reached as the company has manufactured and packaged over 130 solar light systems ready for shipment. Although approximately 1/3 of the lights are already delivered or in transit to the earthquake-ravaged nation, SOL Inc. is still seeking air cargo or ocean freight transportation assistance for the remaining lights from FL to Haiti. Since January 19, 2010, SOL Inc.’s team has been on the ground in Haiti ensuring lights are secured, delivered, and effectively installed.

(from MRS – Materials Science announcement 02-15-10)

of the Materials Research Society (MRS) [http://www.mrs.org]




Much of the structural damage that occurred in Haiti was due to subpar materials and construction methods. Not that everything would be hunky dory if it were properly constructed, but the level of destruction and numbers of dead and injured would most likely be lower.  These organizations realize that, and hope to change the nature of construction in Haiti.

Architecture for Humanity (not yet evaluated by Charity Navigator)
I love AfH.  They have a worldwide presence, and have done so much in their relatively short history.  Their work is entirely based on the concept of being open source – and they encourage others to steal their ideas.  The group is comprised of construction and design professionals providing pro bono work for affordable, sustainable development.  Their presence in Haiti predates the earthquake, and they had already planned to spend a significant amount of time there.  They will be working on reconstruction efforts, focusing on transitional and permanent housing, schools and community structures.  They are partnering with Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, Yele Haiti, and StillerStrong (Ben Stiller’s organization), among others.  They’ve created 7 point plan for sustainable redevelopment, which you can find on their website.

*Habitat for Humanity International
HfH have set out three phases of work in which they’ll engage in Haiti.  During early recovery, they will distribute recovery starter kits to families and restore Habitat Haiti to full capacity.  The second phase is rehab and cleanup, which is in preparation for phase three:  reconstruction and recovery.  During this phase, they will construct transitional shelters as a base for future homes.  They will also create Habitat resource centers in an effort to improve local material quality, building design and construction skills.

*CHF International
CHF have been around for over 50 years, and already have over 170 staff in Haiti, including many infrastructure and construction experts.  They have spent the last four years working on USAID-funded infrastructure rehab and job creation programs.  In addition to their long-term efforts, they are assisting in immediate relief efforts, providing transitional shelters and employing locals in cleanup efforts.  When the immediate needs have subsided, they will focus on creating earthquake-resistant buildings.

This one doesn’t quite fit with the others, as they provide temporary shelter only.  But I think it’s a neat program – a standardized concept that allows the receiving individuals enough flexibility to make it fit their needs.  ShelterBox is literally a box which contains a custom-made 10-person tent with internal privacy partitions, children’s pack (coloring book, crayons and pens), blankets, mosquito nets, water purification means, a tool kit, wood-burning or multi-fuel stove and eating utensils.  The first tents that arrived in Haiti are being used to house the injured, women with newborns, other highly vulnerable people.  They have thousands more tents on their way.

(From – )



(from the CNN transcript of the show on

VELSHI: Yes. And we’re going to check on that one of the things we want to discuss with you is that, if you are in one of those houses or, let’s say, you’re not in a house, let’s say you were on a piece of land and your house disappeared. It was crumbled. What do you use for shelter? We’ve heard about people using cardboard boxes. We’ve heard about people using sheets. But how do you even get that stuff that’s destroyed off your property?

There’s rebar, there’s steel, there’s concrete, there’s junk. So Habitat for Humanity got together and tried to figure out what’s the best toolbox that you can send to Haiti to help people clear their land, and create some shelter, and they’re sending — starting tomorrow — about 8,000 of these boxes, or 2,000 I think already in the Dominican Republic, but this week they’ve been getting these boxes together. They’re sending 8,000 of them down to Haiti.

Ivan’s with me, because Ivan spent a lot of time in Haiti watching this stuff.

This toolbox with all sorts of things in it. There’s duct tape, there’s a hacksaw to cut through the iron. They’re calling it a hammer, but, it’s a real — you know, big one.


VELSHI: Crowbar.

WATSON: Right.

VELSHI: Rope, tarp, gloves, buckets, gloves, safety glasses. Does this look useful?

WATSON: Absolutely. We take this for granted. Look at this. A box of nails. But this is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

VELSHI: Right.

WATSON: Waterproof tarp. I was seeing huge, basically refugee camps, displace person camps, where people were using cotton sheets and sticks and they were sleeping under those. Now can you imagine what happened to those when they were hit by an hour long torrential downpour before dawn this morning? And how much even just one tarp could have helped that family.

VELSHI: Yes. And this is what they are saying. Home Depot was involved in this. And they got a number of the suppliers and these tools to supply them at cost. And there are little — you know, things that we take for granted. But just a little knife here — my producer tried to open and cut herself, but there you go.

WATSON: Careful.

VELSHI: But there you go. A little knife, a way to get through some of the metal that’s broken and replacement blades and duct tape and things like that.

I was asking them how someone would use this. And they were saying they sort of put this together because it seems to be the most useful stuff, and some may use it differently.

So somebody might have two trees or they might have something standing to which they connect the tarp using the rope, but this is kind of the starter tool kit to try and get your — your life off the ground.

[ . . . ]
VELSHI: You might be able to catch up. But we saw pictures. You saw them. You were at those sites, where people were using rudimentary tools to try and — and trying — you know, pull people out of the building. I don’t know how you do it where we have all tools available to us in a place like this. But to see it there, and see people just sort of heaving stuff out and not having water, I hope this helps.

10,000 of these boxes, thanks to donations to the Habitat for Humanity. Also, C.A.R.E. is helping to distribute that. They are also sending 3,000 latrines and soap and cleaning supplies. Just things we take for granted —

WATSON: Absolutely.

VELSHI: And a lot of folks there just don’t have. Ivan, thanks. That was great work while you were down in Atlanta. If you want to get involved in this sort of thing, Habitat for Humanity is trying to do this.

(From – )


Recipe for Revolution? Iran Government Take Vs. Opposition’s Take; Alexander McQueen Found Dead

Aired February 11, 2010 – 13:00   ET


Architecture for Humanity works with groups around the world to rebuild communities struck by natural and man-made disasters. Such is the continuing chaos in Haiti that even now, 2 1/2 weeks after my conversation with Sinclair, the exact death toll is unknown.

His organization is helping to reconstruct the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The first task is to build disaster recovery centers that will serve other relief groups.

[ . . . ]

Earthquake Manual

Sinclair said Architecture for Humanity plays a key role in disaster recovery because most charitable organizations don’t know anything about construction.

“We give away our plans to anyone who wants to replicate what we’ve done,” Sinclair said.

Architecture for Humanity has written an earthquake manual, but Haiti’s poverty makes it difficult to construct earthquake- proof buildings. Sinclair has already rejected offers to use shipping containers for housing because he fears they would become mosquito-infested ovens.

“You can’t do a shoddy job,” Sinclair said. “You’re helping people build equity.”


Buffett, Vatican Look to Architect’s Group for Help in Haiti

(bloomberg)  February 10, 2010