Tags: Haiti | rebuilding | map | quake

Haiti Makes Plans for Dramatic Rebuilding

Monday, 22 Feb 2010 09:30 AM


PETIONVILLE, HAITI -- Here on the hills above Port-au-Prince, a vision for a very different capital city is taking shape.

In a loft of architectural offices, a map of greater Port-au-Prince promises a reordering of the country's historic capital, overtaken long ago by sprawl and slums and struck last month by a cataclysmic earthquake.

"Expressway" is etched along the city's winding seaboard. "New Housing Area" is written over a swath of undeveloped land far from the detritus of downtown. And "Debris" is written in several spots where it is to be put to constructive use.

Presiding over the map, and over the massive reconstruction effort that will define the country for generations, is a Haitian-born Howard University graduate who serves as Haiti's tourism minister.

Working out of spare space far from his destroyed downtown offices, Patrick Delatour must sell a future for Haiti to his own people and an audience of international donors, who will help fund an urban rebirth starting from virtually zero.

"This," he said, looking out the window as his police driver navigated the swells of a ramshackle back alley, "is urban development without urbanism, architecture without architects, engineering without engineers."

Although the international response to the Jan. 12 earthquake was swift, the international role in reconstruction is still taking shape, slowed by the scale of the humanitarian crisis and freighted by the often prickly relationship between the Western hemisphere's poorest country and the foreign actors who have loomed so large in its history.

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2010-30-22
 
 

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