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British Red Cross community led project rebuilds neighbourhood from the rubble

8 January 2015

Five years on from Haiti’s devastating earthquake, the British Red Cross is completing a project that has helped rebuild the neighbourhood of Delmas 19 in Port-au-Prince.

The community-led programme, which has helped 4,000 families in this densely populated area of the capital, is now in its final stages and will be completed by summer 2015. The suburb of Delmas 19, the size of about four football pitches, now benefits from a canal, road drainage, a new public space, a rebuilt market dubbed ‘the British market’, regenerated businesses and houses that can better withstand seismic shocks. .


The charity is also training 50 local people as masons to help reconstruct their neighbourhood and ensure safe building standards in the future. With high illiteracy levels across Haiti, particularly among women, the Red Cross also offers literacy classes.


Ted Tuthill, recovery programme manager, said: “This has been an ambitious reconstruction and regeneration programme, but the scale of the disaster in Haiti meant that we had to rethink our usual approach. Everything was needed, from basic infrastructure, water, health, housing to restarting and strengthening the local economy. Given the challenges for the community in Delmas 19, an area that was badly affected by the earthquake, we decided to do something about all these interlinked problems.


“Every step of the way the community has been consulted and involved in making decisions about the work. The priorities for them were jobs, improving public health through basic infrastructure, and supporting the rebuilding of people’s homes and businesses. We knew this way we could make a real, lasting difference to these families.”


Haiti’s earthquake of 12 January 2010 killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. The Red Cross Red Crescent launched their biggest single country response in the immediate aftermath, sending 21 emergency teams to provide food, water, shelter and health support.


After the emergency phase, the British Red Cross concentrated recovery efforts on two large-scale camps in the devastated capital. It also provided livelihoods support in Port-au-Prince and the South Department, where people who’d lost everything in the quake had moved and were struggling to get back on their feet. These projects were completed by June 2012. Overall, the British Red Cross has provided support to around 400,000 people since the earthquake.


In June 2012, the British Red Cross began a third phase of recovery work in Delmas 19 – urban regeneration and the continuation of livelihoods support.


“This is an urban location and the needs were more than just building houses,” said Melvin Tebbutt, head of the British Red Cross in Haiti. “The community was completely devastated. The canal was broken, drainage water was running everywhere, people were living in unsafe buildings. It was clear they needed a complete rethink about how people lived in order to regenerate the area.”


The programme began with the rebuilding of a drainage canal, which previously had caused homes to be flooded with sewage even during periods of light rain. The canal was diverted and rebuilt, facing its first test when, only partially finished, Tropical Storm Isaac swept through in August 2012. The new canal meant for the first time, homes in Delmas 19 were not swamped with sewage and filthy water during a storm.


The British Red Cross has also provided families with cash grants, microcredit  and small business support in the form of training and loans. The rebuilding of the Delmas 19 infrastructure, which includes water points and basic sanitation, along with streetlights and a public space where children play.  In addition, three kinds of housing support have been provided to the neighbourhood: help with rent, repairs, or reconstruction.

Haiti earthquake facts & figures:


  • Earthquake of 12 January 2010 killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless
  • British Red Cross Haiti earthquake appeal raised £23 million (with contributions from DEC appeal and DfID)

Across the Red Cross Red Crescent movement:

  • 226,030 households (over 1.1m people) received emergency aid
  • 195,160 households (975,800 people) received food assistance

Stats for the British Red Cross response in Haiti: 

  • Over 326,000 people reached with information on how to prevent and treat cholera
  • 300 metres of canal rebuilt, along with nearly 2km of road drainage and over 3,000m2 of paving
  • Over 4,000 families will directly benefit from the Delmas 19 British Red Cross programme, bringing basic sanitation, infrastructure, housing and livelihoods support to the neighbourhood
  • Overall, the British Red Cross’s recovery programme in Port-au-Prince has helped around 85,000 people
  • 140 homes rebuilt and 30 other properties repaired