Hurricane Mitch 1998 - Nicaragua

After Hurricane Mitch devastated much of Central America, EcoSouth colleagues Grupo Sofonias Nicaragua, EcoVide Honduras and CIDEM Cuba became involved in post-disaster reconstruction.

Malacatoya is a living example of architectural design and human settlement planning  that demonstrates to all nations threatened by hurricanes and floods the wisdom of an integrated and participatory approach that draws upon experiences.

The Malacatoya resettlement project brought villagers from flood risk zones to a safer haven. Not only is the new settlement located in a higher zone where an inundation has never occurred, its design incorporates many principles to avoid future disasters, and involved the people themselves in the planning.
 
The primordial challenge was to ensure that water from the torrential rains would be evacuated naturally. Thus, the project drew upon the wealth of experience from EcoSouth colleagues at CIDEM in its response to the recurring hurricanes and floods that thrash through the Caribbean.

Their overall design included plans for roads and paths, electrical and sanitary installations, as well as community buildings such as a health center, pavilions for women and for children.

For the houses, the challenge was to achieve a  basic design that allowed the houses to look different. This was accomplished through  various ways of treating the roofs. A participatory approach allowed beneficiaries to express how they would like their future homes, and designs emerged  that  became reality in the houses the people built under the guidance of Grupo Sofonias.

Rocks, fine sand and clay are the raw materials available locally; everything else must be transported from afar, crossing a river on a ferry. The technology chosen was foundations and walls of cyclop concrete with partial substitution of Portland cement by puzzolana. Clay was no option as a certain risk of inundation could not be totally excluded. Micro Concrete Roofing tiles (MCR) were produced on site.

 

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Peter Arndt
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Social worker and Mechanical technician
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Project administration and management, social organization, mechanical innovation

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