Post Disaster reconstruction projects

Post Disaster reconstruction projects"La Betania" in Honduras, Central America.
EcoSur E-magazine starts a series discussing different experiences in reconstruction projects.
In this first issue we look at a project implemented by the Honduran network partner “EcoViDe” after hurricane “Mitch” in 1998.
The project grew out of the emergency work and the EcoSouth network was able to connect EcoViDe with the “Swiss Red Cross” who financed the project together with  “Swiss Solidarity”.

Situation at the time of the emergency
Hurricane “Mitch” hit Honduras end of October 1998 and the strongest rainfall ever swelled the rivers until they swallowed whole communities lining their banks. Some 200,000 houses were destroyed or severely damaged, in top of a housing deficit of 700,000.   Total damage was estimated  close to 4 billion USD which is more than two thirds of Honduras annual gross domestic product.

Many international organizations moved fast to promise funds, mainly  to the  non-governmental relief- and development agencies.  The need to act quickly combined with logistical difficulties and a lack of effective management on the part of an overwhelmed Honduras government resulting in an improvised and uncoordinated effort. The process was slowed down by the fact that no suitable land was available. Wherever a plot could be purchased, there was no municipal or national body able to provide infrastructural support. Some International donors resolved to install basic infrastructure on their own cost, others shipped water in during construction.

The project
The project concentrated on building a new community with families who had lived in a high risk area.  Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, is embedded between hills and virtually no level plot of land can be found.   To EcoViDe it was obvious that the growth area of Tegucigalpa was towards the north, where in the Amarateca valley a new industrial area was being developed, however, no suitable plot at affordable cost could be sourced.

When the National Government decided to dedicate a farm in the foothills of Amarateca to build a satellite town, EcoViDe and the Betania grassroots committee were the first ones to decide.

After careful planning, construction was able to start 18 months after Mitch, and it took 18 months to finish 317 houses with assisted self help. Every family contributed 150 days of labour.

EcoSouth network provided efficient backstopping and set up a management  and controlling system that   kept costs under control in spite of inflation and  was able to predict months before completion that financial overdraft would be less than 1% !
E-magazine had reported on this project in its November 2004 issue.


La Betania revisited in 2008
Charlotte Belli, Psychologist from Nicaragua visited la Betania and her collected impressions  show exceptional high satisfaction among the beneficiaries. This undoubtedly is a positive side effect of the drawn-out time of insecurity without land, when the donor agency was threatening to withdraw its support and EcoViDe was able to form a strong community organization in Betania and the people learned to fight for their dream.

The report from Lic. Belli can be downloaded here (only Spanish):
pdf la_betania_impacto_social 07/06/2008,13:32 359.06 Kb

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Martín Meléndez
Dominican
Civil Engineer
Spanish and English
Microconcrete roofing tiles (MCR), CP 40 (alternative cement), adobe, tapial, burnt clay bricks, social organization, workshop planning for MCR and alternative cement, setup and implementation of housing projects, disaster prevention in construction

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