…it’s also the percentage of rubble that’s been cleared out of Port-au-Prince after the earthquake! Now, I don’t need to remind you why this is a problem (if the rubble is still there, there are no new houses [temporary or otherwise]; and if there are no new houses, the tent cities will be here forever), but I just did anyways.
I was talking to a member of the NGO community earlier this week about why rubble removal was taking so long, and he explained that for many NGOs who are building transitional shelters, rubble removal just isn’t a priority. “We’ve really started to figure out that building transitional shelters and removing rubble is very interconnected,” he said, as if this was a revelation that could possibly impress a cynic. I wanted to bonk him on the head and say, “No s#@t!” Coming to that conclusion now is like realizing that you had to clear trees to build a road over the Appalachian mountains…9 months after you started.
And while a lot of rubble has been cleared away, the city is still sprawling with collapsed buildings that don’t appear to be going anywhere. According to an AP wire, some estimate that there is 33 million cubic yards of rubble just waiting for someone to throw it into the side of the road and cause a traffic jam. That’s enough concrete to build seven (7!) Hoover Dams.
Now the reason why this is taking so long is obviously complicated, but if everyone was putting as much focus on moving this rubble as they are on, well, everything else, maybe we would start to see some progress. In many situations the rubble is hard to get to, and can only be cleared by hand, bucket by bucket. That takes forever, especially at the pace that $5 a day earns you. But even in places where there is room to bring in the heavy machinery, it’s just super dangerous. The buildings in the two pictures above will not be easy to take down, and because the machinery is hard to come by building owners usually hire local workers to just smash them down with sledgehammers. After a month or two that works, but at that pace we’ll be here for decades.
Anyways…I could go on about this for hours, but I won’t bore you. If you’re interested in reading more about the complexities of rubble removal in Haiti, you can click on these words, and it will take you to an AP article about it.