Recycling Rubble, Improving City Infrastructure
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Published on 13 March 2011

Jean Lerhomme Eximé is part of a team of workers clearing rubble from his neighbourhood in Léogâne. WFP/Stephanie Tremblay

In Léogâne, a project helps the city repair its roads by recycling rubble from the earthquake.

On rue Lavandière, a quiet Léogâne street lined with banana and mango trees, workers are shuttling in and out of a small courtyard.

The courtyard used to be the centre of Jean Lerhomme Eximé’s world. He was a security guard for the house and his job was to make sure that everyone living here was safe. This was also the place he called home, a place reduced to dust by goudou goudou, the onomatopoeic name Haitians have given to the earthquake and that mimics the sound they heard when the earth shook.

Eximé says he was so close to his employers that he considered them part of his own family. “Four of them died under the rubble, he said. It was devastating.” His own daughter was briefly caught under the collapsed house, but she was rescued quickly, uninjured.

In January 2011, he was hired to be part of the team of labourers working on rue Lavandière and started hauling remnants of his past away. “I’m really happy to work here, he said. That’s helping me to move on.” It’s also helping him buy food and other basic commodities. Eximé receives 200 gourdes (USD5) per workday. The cash for work project is financed by the World Food Programme and done in collaboration with Makaya-lib, a local NGO.

All projects financed by WFP provide opportunities for Haitians to increase their access to food, but also to improve their communities. Working in close coordination with the Haitian government, local authorities, NGOs and UN agencies, more than 160 projects employing over 100,000 people have been undertaken to improve food security, but also to support recovery efforts and build resilience in disaster prone areas.

Recycling rubble

The rubble from Jean Lerhomme Eximé’s house is not only picked up, it is also recycled.  

In Léogâne, many roads are unpaved, and cars driving around town often take part in an elaborate choreography, a sort of dance to avoid the potholes. Gravel is usually laid on the streets to make them smooth again, but the earthquake brought with it new road repair materials: rubble from collapsed houses and walls.

On rue Lavandière, workers shred the rubble picked up from this courtyard and others before laying it on the street just a few steps away. The result is simple and efficient. Pieces of land are ready for rebuilding and the road that leads to them is pothole-free.

Eximé’s surviving employers are still saving money to rebuild their house. But in the meantime, hundreds of people have been able to improve their living conditions and their own community.
 

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About the author

Stephanie Tremblay

Public Information Officer

Stephanie Tremblay is a public information officer. Prior to her work with WFP, she was a television journalist.