It is hard to begin a day’s work with a warm cup of coffee, a clean office and a (fairly) new computer … knowing about the devastation in another country. I heard the death toll in Haiti could be as high as 50,000.
According to a BBC news article this morning, experts say that it is "no surprise that shoddy construction contributed to the level of destruction in Haiti following Tuesday’s earthquake." The primary reason: "It’s sub-standard construction . . . There aren’t any building codes as we would recognise them," says London-based architect John McAslan, who has been working on a project linked to the Clinton Global Initiative in the country.
Also to blame is a lack of quality in building materials and cost-cutting measures for construction. For example, "[p]eople are skimping on cement to try to cut costs, putting a lot of water in, building too thin, and you end up with a structure that’s innately weaker," said Peter Haas, head of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, a US-based non-profit group that has been working in Haiti since 2006.
What should our response be to a devastation like this? First, we need to help through international aid organizations like the American Red Cross. You can find a donate link here. Second, we can start to learn that "best practices" is more than a buzz word. In the construction industry, it is our job to promote good building standards, use quality materials, and work together with those less fortunate to help build a better future.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the people and their families in Haiti.