– Some 1,500 residents of Haiti’s southern city of Jacmel, left homeless by the January 2010 earthquake, are now living in 335 semi-permanent houses in a village environment.
In the seaside city where 800 people died and many of the historic gingerbread style buildings of the city centre were destroyed, the families who lost their homes took refuge in Parc Pinchinat, a football field located in the centre of town. The field soon became the town’s biggest camp, housing more than 900 families (some 4,000 persons).
The residents of Parc Pinchinat endured flooding and overcrowding, with 10 families sharing a tent, which caused protection and security issues, including total lack of privacy.
In August 2010, after land was identified and provided by the City Council, IOM staff relocated a first group of 182 families to the new rural community named Camp Maynard.
“This started with tents and temporary accommodation, which has now been upgraded by IOM to transitional housing,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti Nigel Fisher who was standing outside a row of peach-coloured homes.
“They have tin roofs and solid walls, two bedrooms and a little salon and it’s really great to see the pride that’s taken hold in the community where people are also growing their little gardens with their peas and their papaya.”
Each family received a plot of land measuring 9m x 7.5m, and a 25m² tent, provided by the international NGO Medair.
The tents, with built-in metal structures, were intended to be gradually transformed into semi-permanent houses with a 15-year expected lifespan.
The task of converting the upgraded tents into semi-permanent houses, which sit on concrete foundations, was completed in August 2011.
All the homes in Camp Maynard are connected to the public water network; the homes are illuminated with solar-powered lights, and the ground is laid with gravel to curb flooding.
An additional 11 homes will be soon allocated to vulnerable families living in tents in other areas of the city.
The selection of families relocated to Camp Mayard was based on lists provided by the camp committee, as well as information compiled by the IOM Data Management Unit. The list of pre-selected families was shared with local authorities for approval.
The families in Camp Maynard have developed a strong sense of ownership and pride in their new houses and the environment. Many have started small businesses, including a cinema and small shops.
“We’re facing a few challenges right now,” Fisher said, pointing out that the charity that empties the latrines has run out of money and the national water authority doesn’t have the sludge trucks it needs to do the job.
“Right now we need funding to empty those sludge tanks,” Fisher said. “We also need a school, there are lots of kids around here and while we’re all in favour of those longer term solutions we need solutions here, right now and I will be talking to donors about that.”
This community is a great example of doing things well with the community,” he continued, “It proves the point that while Haitians do not want handouts, they wouldn’t mind a hand up.”
“Jacmel in my view reflects the progress that has been made outside Port-au-Prince in getting people from camps to communities,” said Luca Dall’Oglio, IOM Haiti Chief of Mission.
The IOM Haiti Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), prepared in support of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) group, estimated the camp population for the entire country at approximately 594,800 at the end of July 2011. According to the DTM, the displaced population outside of Port-au-Prince has dropped 90 per cent, from 300,000 to 30,000 persons.