About the Author: Cari Enav serves as the Deputy Director of the Human Rights Office in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO).
The devastating impact of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti brought an immediate outpouring of generosity from countries around the world. These resources helped provide vital assistance to meet Haitians' needs for food, water, and emergency shelter. That assistance is still urgently needed, but Haitian leaders and the international community have also turned their attention to the need to rebuild. The project will be vast, and take years, but one principle must be followed -- when we rebuild, we must rebuild for resilience. Future generations in Haiti must not face this level of destruction when the next disaster strikes.
To address the objective to build back Haiti better, over 100 scientists, engineers, academics and policymakers from around the world attended a March 22 -23 workshop entitled "Rebuilding for Resilience: How Science and Engineering Can Inform Reconstruction in Haiti." The goal: to produce a clear set of recommendations to guide the reconstruction of Haitian communities so that they are more resilient not just to earthquakes, but also to floods, landslides, and hurricanes.
The White House Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction convened the workshop, hosted by the University of Miami; sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN/ISDR); and organized by organized by the IRIS Consortium, with support from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Haitian Minister for Environment Jean-Marie Claude Germain encouraged the international community's efforts during his keynote speech. UN/ISDR Assistant Secretary-General Margareta Wahlstrom spoke on behalf of that community along with high-level representatives not only from the United States but also from Italy, Japan, and Mexico.
The workshop featured panels on assessing Haiti's hazard and risk; lessons learned from other nations' rebuilding efforts; strategies for achieving disaster risk reduction; and of course plans for rebuilding Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas. The resulting set of recommendations is currently being analyzed by international experts and will contribute to the conversation at the March 31 Haiti Donors' Conference in New York -- where the United States, the United Nations and the international community will encourage continued support to Haiti, where resources are still desperately needed. Initial recommendations can be found at www.state.gov/p/io.