Advances in construction technology are amazing.
We recently attended the World of Concrete in Las Vegas to check out the latest innovations in concrete working equipment. It is unbelievable how the tools for producing, forming and finishing concrete have changed in the last 25-years. Contractors and builders in the industrialized world can produce great results because they have access to these wonderful tools.
Unfortunately, when we leave the comforts of our modern construction sites and go to Haiti for rebuilding, we also leave behind the tools and technology that would create an acceptable result. Maybe we justify this disconnect as “Life in Haiti”, and so we must live with the reality. After all, they are the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, right?
We see images of well-meaning organizations building orphanages, schools and medical centers with the funds of generous donors and we all feel pretty good. The volunteers work along side of the Haitian builders on these construction projects, using the same poor tools and technology that would never be allowed in the USA. And we all say… That is “Life in Haiti”…
It is time to change the way we build in the poorest countries of the world. It is time to rethink and re-prioritize what is acceptable “life” and how our generous donations are being used. The evidence is overwhelming that the rubble piles in Haiti are filled with concrete that was mixed by “eye”, using shovels on the ground.
We know that this is a failed process, yet we choose to use a power trowel on a concrete slab that was produced without a proper cement mixer. What good is a flat floor when its strength is only 1000 psi and will not hold weight during the next earthquake?
We hear suggestions that Haiti should rebuild using the best in sustainable construction technology, yet we don’t do anything to take their poor mixing technology out of the equation. That is phony-sustainability! Unfortunately there are many chunks of smoothly finished floors filling those Haitian rubble piles.
Someone must stand up for the quality of the concrete foundations in Haiti…
The people who attended the World of Concrete witnessed the best technology on the planet, but the families in Haiti may never benefit from this equipment because we force them to rely on their shovels for mixing cement; and that is just wrong!
What do you think? Power trowel or mixer?
Note: The construction crew pictured in this story tried to rent a mixer in Haiti and could only find a power trowel…. Do we need more mixers in Haiti?