IIED publishes archive on post-quake planning in Haiti

IIED is marking the ten-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake by publishing an online archive documenting post-disaster community planning work in the city of Port-au-Prince. IIED will also launch a working paper summarising the experience gained in Haiti and host a discussion meeting later this month.

News, 09 January 2020
A map showing the neighbourhoods around Port-au-Prince, Haiti

A map shows Port-au-Prince and some of the surrounding neighbourhoods affected by the 2010 earthquake

Ten years after the devastating Haiti earthquake, IIED has published a new digital archive that documents the planning response to the disaster.

The Haiti Community Planning Archive will provide urban planners, students and those working in disaster response with concrete, detailed information about a wide range of community planning initiatives undertaken in the years following the devastating earthquake.

Lucy Earle, principal researcher in IIED’s Human Settlements research group, says the data will be of critical importance for planners and planning education, where post-disaster community planning is an emerging field.

She said: “This data has the potential to inform a new generation of planners specialising in post-disaster recovery, and the work of humanitarian actors who are increasingly finding themselves responding to complex urban disasters.”

An extraordinary collective effort

The 2010 earthquake hit on January 12, close to Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. More than 300,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged and some three million people were directly affected. The informal settlements around Port-au-Prince were particularly hard hit. 

Over the following seven years, Haiti’s government and more than 50 organisations engaged in an extraordinary collective effort to  implement humanitarian community planning and other post-disaster initiatives. Hundreds of people worked on community planning processes across Port-au-Prince’s most damaged neighbourhoods, producing over 3,500 pages of planning documents, including almost 1,000 maps. 

Many approaches for humanitarian community planning were implemented and tested, generating valuable lessons for those setting out to develop community plans in crisis situations.  

But in most cases, the data was only saved in working documents on the laptops of those who prepared them. Many of the plans that were published have since vanished from the public domain. 

As a contribution to the DFID-funded Urban Crises programme, IIED has supported researchers to retrieve and consolidate this valuable planning data.

A wide range of data and media

The archive comprises published and unpublished, finished and working documents, drawings, maps, photographs and videos on community planning and neighbourhood recovery programme implementation and other urban planning efforts. They give direct access to the original data produced through the community planning process. 

The archive also contains selected resources on other post-earthquake urban planning initiatives and background documents on planning and urban development in Haiti.

People walk past ruined buildings

Working paper and discussion meeting

IIED is also publishing a related working paper entitled 'Learning from community planning following the 2010 Haiti earthquake' which will further contribute to the emerging literature on urban area-based planning. 

The paper provides a case study of community planning projects carried out in 28 neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince that are home to more than a million people.

Community planning initiatives guided the investment of over US$400 million in humanitarian assistance. They resulted in practical improvements to living conditions and brought about far-reaching institutional change in both the status of informal settlements and authorities’ and organisations’ planning policies.

The working paper will be launched at an IIED event on Thursday, 23 January, 2020. A panel of experts, including two of the authors of the paper, will discuss their experiences working in Haiti before and after the disaster.