The foundation stone for the reconstruction of the Sacré-Coeur elementary school and the integrated teacher-training centre in Petit-Goave, west of Port-au-Prince, is being laid today. At the start of school next September, 1000 pupils will be going to school and at the same time teachers will be trained there. The ceremony will be attended by the Swiss Ambassador in Haiti, Urs Berner, high-level representatives of the Ministry of Education and representatives of the SDC. Together with another school in the neighbouring town of Léogâne, the Sacré-Coeur School is the first to be rebuilt for permanent use after the earthquake of 12 January 2010. To date, only temporary school buildings had been approved. The two schools are to become pioneering models of earthquake-proof construction adapted to local conditions.
These buildings are a good example of the SDC's sustained commitment in Haiti. The need for international assistance was and is enormous. When the earth shook in the Port-au-Prince region on 12 January 2010, the disaster killed 230,000 people and injured 300,000. Much of Haiti's capital and surrounding areas lay in ruins. The international community pledged 9 billion US dollars for reconstruction. But heaps of rubble, unresolved property rights, lack of construction standards and the cholera epidemic complicate the reconstruction effort. About 1.5 million people are still forced to get by without fixed accommodation.
In March 2010, the Federal Council decided to earmark CHF 36 million for the reconstruction effort in Haiti. An additional CHF 66 million francs came from donations to Swiss Solidarity and its partner organisations. Swiss Humanitarian Aid is focusing its efforts on rebuilding social infrastructure (schools, health facilities) in close cooperation with the Haitian authorities and the international community and in coordination with Swiss relief organisations.
In order to avoid a concentration of efforts in Port-au-Prince, projects in rural areas near the epicentre are also supported. Thus, the reconstruction of the Notre-Dame Hospital in Petit-Goave, which will be carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organisation, is in the planning stage. Also planned is the reconstruction of a vocational school to train urgently needed building professionals in Petit-Goave.
In Port-au-Prince, the SDC has been operating a Competence Centre for Reconstruction since July 2010. Experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) and the private sector are available for the planning and implementation of the SDC's own projects but also to provide support and assistance to Swiss aid agencies, multilateral partner organisations and the Haitian authorities. The Competence Centre also develops teaching materials for the training of local professionals in the construction sector and integrates them into specific reconstruction projects.
This commitment is part of an institutional partnership that was forged at the beginning of December 2010 with the Ministry of Public Works and the National Vocational Training Institute. The SDC also supports institutional partners in the reconstruction of schools and water supply systems (UNICEF), as well as in Food Safety efforts (PAM).
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