Recycling Rubble into New Futures for Haiti

January 12, 2010 earthquake. The Institut de Formation Polyvalente had 450 students who were learning to become accountants, information systems analysts, bank tellers, secretaries and translators. But with the tall four-storey school building damaged beyond repair during the earthquake, the students could not return to their training. Joseph Lafontaine, the school’s chief executive, searched desperately for ways to move forward in getting a new school rebuilt and getting the students back into classes, but what seemed merely difficult at first, soon seemed nearly impossible.

"We were asked for around $40,000 to $45,000 to demolish the building,” recalled Mr. Lafontaine. With the incredible losses the Institution had suffered and the money they would need to rebuild this sum was completely unfeasible for them. The building, apart from its many classrooms and offices, also had two laboratories filled with technical equipment and one library. Hope seemed dim for Mr. Lafontaine until the school became a beneficiary of the CRUSH program.

Through the innovative program CRUSH program, CHF is not only demolishing and clearing damaged buildings, but also taking the rubble from those buildings and turning it into valuable sand and gravel that then is used to rebuild. The USAID-funded program run by CHF has been implemented in Petit Goave and Port-au-Prince in heavily earthquake-affected areas.

"The most positive side of this project is the fact that we didn’t have to go through any long bureaucratic processes – CHF contacted us and then they got to work.” The school’s director is much more optimistic about the future now. “I hope to resume classes within the next month,” says Mr. Lafontaine. The training center will also be allowed to get a percentage of recycled materials to use for their rebuilding.The CRUSH program not only facilitates the demolition of the buildings, but also allows the beneficiaries to keep 30% of materials after the debris has been processed.

CRUSH began in Petit Goave in October 2010 and has now moved to Carrefour, a low-income area in the southwest of Port-au-Prince. The program has already demolished and cleared 60,494 cubic meters of rubble and from that, the 24 crushers have recycled 20,455 cubic meters.

View a short video about CHF's CRUSH program below.