Many organizations are expert at first response following a disaster. They can mobilize the resources to save lives, comfort the suffering and feed the masses. The world is grateful for their expertise and willingness to work in miserable conditions.
Unfortunately these same organizations are also tasked with the responsibility of staying on to begin the long process of rebuilding. To these organizations the development and rebuilding projects are really just construction “side-jobs”.
Robert Perito, a Haiti expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace has discussed this common problem for disaster relief efforts called the “Development Gap”. He explained the issue to the Washington Post in a story concerning the slow recovery efforts in Haiti.
Mr. Perito stated, “…reconstruction is all about deciding where and what to build. “This is a classic conundrum in development theory,” he said. “It’s called the development gap: How do you fill the gap between the emergency phase and the long-term development phase?”
Further discussions on this issue are a part of a web-cast sponsored by the US Institute of Peace in October of this year.
This development gap should be approached and filled by specialists, just like we would do if we found a large crack in the foundation in our home. To fix the problem we would bring in a specialty contractor who had the experience, equipment and employees to get the job completed properly.
The gap in Haiti is growing everyday and yet the emergency experts are still dealing with cholera, election unrest and tent cities, as they should.
The concrete foundation of Haiti is broken and the specialist should be working now to fix this gap before we can start rebuilding.
The concrete development gap is going to grow as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon and will be revealed when these organizations change from emergency work to construction management. On that day we will find that Haiti has a broken concrete delivery system and it will surprise many.
The development gap in Haiti needs to be back-filled with better concrete. Not fixing the concrete delivery processes will be like beginning construction on a home with a failed foundation. Haiti has enough rubble piles and history demonstrates that bad concrete is never sustainable.
Starting today we need to get working on the concrete construction supply chain. Organizations and governments need to provide the motivated Haitian workers with the right expertise and equipment to fix the concrete so it can be used to fill their development gap.
There is a large bucket of money that should be used to build back a better, more sustainable country. Concrete will provide the foundation for stronger economic stability and safer homes. We need to pour some of the money into making better concrete; it will give jobs to the people who need them the most and will provide a solid foundation for future development task.
Whenever there is a gap to fill, concrete can get the job done!