Since the earthquake struck Haiti in January, 1.5 million people have been left homeless. Distributing shelter material is one of the slowest and most complex problems facing aid organizations. As the rainy season begins, Haitians are learning to make do with what they have. Hurricanes usually appear in May or June, and many meteorologists are predicting an especially active season.
Three months ago, seen from above, the city looked like a patchwork of colorful, flimsy tents made of sheets and sticks. If you fly into Port-au-Prince today, you will see a landscape dominated by gray and blue tarps. People are also trying to create semi-permanent shelters, which incorporate found objects including metal sheeting, scrap wood, plastic garbage bags, cardboard boxes, and articles of clothing.
The tarps are folded, tucked, nailed, sewn, or taped in infinite configurations. Because the architects of these structures have no access to raw materials or tools, shelters are sometimes made with rusty nails, using rocks as hammers. The aid community is now working to distribute “fixings”—duct tape, screws, nails—and tools.
Click here to see a slide show of some of the makeshift structures in the Port-au-Prince area.