Haiti Development Constraints And Principals


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This presentation summarizes what I learned on my trip to Haiti from August to October 2010.

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Haiti Development Constraints And Principals

  1. 1. The Earthbag Building Process Constraint Analysis, Principles and Techniques Prepared by Timothy X. Merritt For PortModal LLC 22 October 2010
  2. 2. Scale model virtually placed at the Haitian Academy, Cache Cache Douge
  3. 3. Simple / Inexpensive / Labor Intensive Site Prep Foundations Walls Windows and Doorways Bond Beam Roof Plastering Inspection Certification Move In The Earthbag Building Process
  4. 4. Four Constraints Land Resources Labor Earth Moving
  5. 5. Constraint: Land Land • Land must be available. • Large parcels prohibited for Americans. • Haitian Nationals must be involved. • Corruption rampant. o Land frequently sold to multiple times to different parties o No title search o Ponderous court system • Cultural pattern: Owners vs. Tenants.
  6. 6. Constraint: Resources Resources • Poor quality of local materials. • Materials must be shipped from US. • Corrupt / bureaucratic ports. • Security. o Theft o Weather damage • Transportation to job site. • Vehicle maintenance and fuel. • Missing items will halt construction.
  7. 7. Constraint: Labor (Two elements: Availability and Skill Level) Labor Available Labor Skilled • Earthbag building is labor intensive. • Possible transportation problems getting to job site. • For scalability, local Haitians must be trained. o Team Leaders o Site managers • Labor teams need to be trained. • Labor teams must be incentivized.
  8. 8. Constraint: Earth Moving Earth Moving The Primary Constraint! • Earthbag building is fundamentally about moving tons of earth. • Tractor support is extremely valuable. • Site setup critical to earth flow. • Earth should be trucked in. • Each building: 10-15 tons earth. • All processes should be geared towards the flow of earth.
  9. 9. Process with Constraints Site Prep Building Construction (6 steps) Inspection Certification Move In Land Resources Stop Stop Labor Available Stop Labor Skilled Training Earth Moving Find Problem Primary constraint! Yes No
  10. 10. Managing Constraints • Principles – Villages Produced are the Primary Measurement – “Culture Bubble” – Decent Housing – Also Design the Outdoors – Pre-positioned Stocks – Minimize Cash Transactions – Best use of Money is to Pay Labor – Give People a Way to Own Their Homes – Trees Incorporated Into Every Development Plan – Seek to Partner with other Aid Organizations
  11. 11. Principles • Villages Produced are the Primary Measure – Funders want to know how many houses were built, but that is not the best measurement. – Housing alone does not account for storm water runoff, sewage and garbage disposal, water and electrical systems, and community functions such as education, medical, religious and farmer’s markets. – Viable villages consist of housing for approximately 300 people, five community buildings and common areas. – Villages are the goal.
  12. 12. Principles • “Culture Bubble” – The Haitian culture itself can hinder development. – Between the time the land is secured and materials delivered, until the time the family moves into the home, there exists a “culture bubble” where American style systems and processes can operate efficiently. Earthbag Building Process “Culture Bubble” Land and Materials Move In
  13. 13. Principles • Also Design the Outdoors – Everybody lays out developments in grids... Even when there is no obvious reason to do so. – Haitians spend over half of their day outside. – Arrange buildings with courtyards, and to adapt to local terrain, integrate families, farming and markets, etc. – “Good fences make good neighbors”. – Shade is critical. – Breeze is critical
  14. 14. Principles • Decent Housing – There are dozens of different housing styles available. – Most of them are bad. – People are being simply “warehoused”. – Decent housing is defined as housing that the builders will live in themselves during development.
  15. 15. Principles • Pre-Positioned Stocks – Fortunately, almost all of the constraints are on the front end of the process. – Construction cannot begin until resources are in place. – By pre-positioning all the tools and materials required, workflow will not be interrupted. – Security is important.
  16. 16. Principles • Minimize Cash Transactions – Corruption, bureaucracy, bribery and theft all hinder development. – Money spent this way does nothing to help the Haitian people – “Hustlers” are extremely smart and creative.
  17. 17. Principles • Best Use of Money is to Pay Laborers Directly. – Earthbag building is very labor intensive. – Labor costs about (US) $6.25 per man / per day. – Haitian labor is a small portion of development costs. – Can afford to be generous with labor. – Use financial incentives to increase productivity. – Laborers spend their money locally; producing numerous second order benefits.
  18. 18. Principles • Give People a Way to Own Their Homes – For the majority of people in Haiti right now, home ownership is a dream ...an unattainable dream. – Done correctly, ultra low cost home ownership could provide a solid foundation for national redevelopment. – The danger is in developing slums or “projects”. – A good model to explore would be the American rural cooperative development model. – If they own it, they will take better care of it.
  19. 19. Principles • Incorporate Trees Into Every Development – “Mangos give the best shade.” – Deforestation and soil erosion are mediated by trees. – Trees literally provide a “retirement fund” that earns interest regardless of the economy. – Tree crops require no tilling, fertilizer, seeds, or effort beyond harvesting.
  20. 20. Principles • Seek to Partner with other Aid Organizations – Housing construction should be a matrix upon which other Aid Organizations can build and provide additional services. – Organizations are already in Haiti that provide tree planting services, training on composting toilet systems, medical services, religious services, farming outreach and microfinance, etc. – Partnerships should add value without interfering with the rate at which earthbags are filled. – Perhaps they could provide volunteers to work in exchange for access to PortModal facilities?
  21. 21. Managing Constraints • Techniques – Rural vs. Urban – Secure Landowner Guarantee for Development Property – Trade Housing for Land Guarantee (not cash) – Use of Housing Kits – Careful Site Layout – Tractor Support – Providing Transportation for Laborers – Create “Ladder of Success” – Incentivizing Labor Teams – Using Earth Flow As Primary Measurement
  22. 22. Techniques • Rural vs. Urban – Cities are crowded! – Urban land is scarce. – Cities unable to provide services. – Incredible amount of rubble to move before building. – Plenty of open rural space nearby. – Adequate transportation. – Self-sufficiency is possible in rural areas.
  23. 23. Techniques • Secure Landowner Guarantee for Development Property – My hosts in Haiti arraigned for seven acres to be developed for employee housing. – They are breaking the land into 65 separate lots. – They did not buy the land; instead they just provided a guarantee. – Their employees will purchase the land as a group. – Is this what “right looks like” in Haiti?
  24. 24. Techniques • Trade Housing for Land Guarantee (not cash) – Developing land in Haiti requires participation from local nationals. – High potential for corruption. – Like many landowners in Haiti, my hosts live in tents. – They are very interested in getting a good house to live in. – Avoid corruption by trading housing for land guarantee (not cash)?
  25. 25. To get land owners to make land available for building, build “model homes” highlighting the amazing possibilities of earthbag construction. Scale model virtually placed at the Haitian Academy, Cache Cache Douge
  26. 26. Techniques • Use of Housing Kits – Reduce logistics hassles by prepackaging resources. – Mitigate low quality of locally purchased products. – Include tools. – Ease of transportation. – Standardize and simplify production for Haitian laborers.
  27. 27. • The contents of my barrel kits are described on the right. • This list is suitable for an unstabilized earthbag dome with a 12’ diameter. • Other variations would require concrete for the bond beam, wood for rafters and tin roofing etc. • Patent Pending
  28. 28. Many Variations are Possible with Same Resources
  29. 29. Techniques • Careful Site Layout – In this picture, you can see a swale on the left side to control storm water runoff. – Consider routes for dump trucks with earth. – Locate earth as close as possible to work site. – Should follow a village master plan.
  30. 30. Techniques • Tractor Support – I had no tractor support in Haiti, it drastically slowed my project. – Just because labor is inexpensive, do not assume that it can replace a tractor. – Tractors will have high transportation, maintenance and fuel costs. This picture is from an earthbag project In Gonaives (not my project).
  31. 31. Techniques • Provide Transportation for Laborers – My laborers had endless problems getting to and from the job site. – Transportation was a significant expense for them. – Hiring dedicated transportation stabilizes the work force.
  32. 32. Techniques • Create “Ladder of Success” – Young Haitian men have few opportunities. – Develop a promotion system to harness talent and ambition. – Goal is to establish Haitian owned/operated construction businesses. – Requires long term commitment. Laborer Apprentice Journeyman Master Builder
  33. 33. Techniques • Incentivizing Labor Teams – Minimum wage in Haiti is $40 Haitian Dollars/day. – Earthbag work is hard; I pay $50 Haitian Dollars/day. – Extra pay for team leaders and promotions. – Team and performance bonuses for early completion. – Build Esprit de Corps. – Fire non-performers and “hustlers”. – Be generous with pay: base pay on performance.
  34. 34. Techniques • Using Earth Flow as Primary Measurement – This earthbag house is 10’x12’ and required 24 courses of earthbags. – *Estimate: 5 men can lay 12 linear feet per day (3 courses, 12’ long). – *Estimate is conservative. – Including bond beam, roof and plastering; a 10 man crew should be able to build a house like this in a 6 day work week. – Faster results are possible; bonuses should be paid for better performance. This picture is from an earthbag house in Gonaives (not my project). They reported that 7 men “mostly completed” this house in 7 days.
  35. 35. Scalability • Haiti’s Housing Requirements • Earthbag Construction Training Center • Village Definition • Village Development Process – Site Selection – Master Builder – Builder’s Yard – Village Construction Company – “Parallel Processing” • Rural Economic Considerations
  36. 36. Scalability • Haiti’s Housing Requirements – At least 1.5 million people in Haiti living in tents. – Approximately 400,000 units of housing need to be built. – More than just houses; Haiti needs a viable construction industry.
  37. 37. Scalability • The Haitian Academy as a possible location. – Located 25 km north of Port-au-Prince. – Small private port less than 1 km away. – Already established as a medical training facility. – Gated compound. – Good water. – Room to build. – Familiar and supportive of earthbag building. • Earthbag Construction Training Center – PortModal will have the biggest earthbag construction project in history. – Sheer size will draw earthbag practitioners from all over the world. – Ideal opportunity to establish state of the art training center.
  38. 38. Scalability • Village Definition – Population between 100- 300 people. – 5 community buildings; School, clinic, church, community center and market stalls. – Organized as a co-op. – Green spaces and common areas. – Well/cisterns, micro-grid, composting toilets, trash removal.
  39. 39. Example of Earthbag School This school recently completed in Haiti (not my project)
  40. 40. Scalability • Village Development Process – Thumbnail sketch. – After site is selected, the first step is to construct a Builder’s Square as an operational base and to assign to it a dedicated Master Builder. – Each construction company franchise becomes a training center. – Multiple construction companies result in “Parallel Processing” of housing development. Site Selection Master Builder Builder’s Square Construction Company Construction Company Construction Company Construction Company Training
  41. 41. Scalability • Site Selection – Likely the most difficult task. – Significant resources need to be dedicated to finding buildable land. – Land inventory must be large enough to support construction operations. – Corruption is major factor. – Excess land may be “sold” again to other buyers! – Place signs prominently on land to prevent re-selling. – Land inventory must be small enough for frequent inspections.
  42. 42. Scalability • Master Builder – Construction site requires countless locally specific decisions. – Critical to put one person in charge. – The Master Builder must have extensive training and be able to manage every aspect of work site. – Goal: Train ambitious Haitians to be Master Builders. – Significant financial incentives.
  43. 43. Scalability • Builder’s Square – The first construction on new site is the Builder’s Square. – Composed of several buildings around a central courtyard. – Gated for security. – Storage site for materials. – Home of Master Builder and Journeymen. – Operational Headquarters for site.
  44. 44. Scalability • Village Construction Company – The key to Haiti-wide redevelopment is to establish numerous small for-profit construction companies that are owned and operated by Haitian Nationals. – Each company builds a local neighborhood. – Initially subsidized; but after PortModal leaves, the business remains as an independent housing maintenance and repair organization. – Companies are tightly integrated into each community.
  45. 45. Scalability • “Parallel Processing” – Not feasible for one big American company to do everything. – Best results from hundreds of companies working simultaneously throughout Haiti. – Requires significant training: Every company must also be training organization. – Requires franchise infrastructure independent of corrupt local agencies.
  46. 46. Scalability • Rural Economic Considerations – Transportation difficult to urban centers for work. – Farming is still viable occupation (although low status). – Most urban people have forgotten how to farm. – Tree cropping is miraculous, but very long term. – Jatropha (pictured right) grows easily and produces oil for bio-diesel (see attached report).
  47. 47. Looking south past the port les Moulin’s d’Haiti towards Port-au-Prince