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By : Harmen Janse, Kees van der Flier

Haiti was struck by a heavy earthquake in 2010 and international aid poured into the country. News reports in 2011 were not very positive about the results of post-disaster reconstruction: “The relief efforts are only putting Haiti on lifesupport instead of evolving into the next stage of development”. One of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in Haiti was Cordaid, implementing a ‘transitional shelter strategy’ to support the transformation of neighbourhoods from a state of life-support into a state of self-sustaining development. The strategy was implemented in both a rural and an urban area. The main feature of the strategy was the provision of structures that could be adapted from simple shelters to permanent houses. Since the results of the strategy were mixed and ambiguous, a comparative case study was conducted to evaluate the shelter strategy in both areas. The objective was to draw lessons about what has to be taken into account when formulating future urban shelter strategies. The case study is discussed in this article. The main finding from the case study is that producing the intended number of shelters within the financial and time budgets that were set (efficiency), was more difficult in the urban area than in the rural area. But the conditions for linking relief and development (effectiveness) are more favourable in the urban context. NGOs may achieve long-term (effective) results in the urban context when a lower efficiency can be justified. That is why NGOs need to engage in a debate about the extent to which they are able to focus on long-term shelter or housing strategies. The important element in the debate is communication with the donors who are often focused on short-term relief measures. However urban areas cannot be rebuilt with only short-term interventions. The link between relief and development has to be made by a process-orientated approach focusing on capacities of local participants.
Keywords: Haiti, LRRD, Post-Disaster Reconstruction, Shelter Program.

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