Six months after the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, the need for relief efforts is still at a critical level. Though a true recovery will be years in the making, many organizations continue to look for innovative solutions that will improve lives in the meantime -- and could eventually lead to a more sustainable Haiti.
Check out three of the more creative projects:
Earthship Biotecture's recycled houses
Architect Michael Reynolds and his company, Earthship Biotecture, design and build energy-efficient structures outside of Taos, N.M. -- constructed almost entirely of recycled tires, bottles and other waste materials. After building over 1,000 of these self-sustaining homes in the U.S., Reynolds has taken his team to Haiti to solve the problems faced by rebuilding efforts. The new Haiti Earthship is designed to be earthquake- and hurricane-resistant, 120 square feet, made mostly of 120 recycled automobile tires packed with dirt and will be, once Reynolds returns in October, completed with a plaster coating as well as the capability to sustain itself through solar energy and water collection. He also plans to include flush toilets in the finished product, all making it possible for the home to exist separately of any city infrastructure. The Haiti Earthship was constructed by local Haitians under Reynolds' guidance due to medical complications among his own tiny team and will hopefully become a prototype for Haitians to follow in the creation of a small village.
AT&T and Water Transit Solutions' "Radio Frequency Identification"
In early July, communications company AT&T contributed $100,000 to the National Organization for Advancement of Haitians (NOAH) to ensure that Haitians outside of the water grid receive an adequate supply of clean drinking water. NOAH will work with Water Transit Solutions, one of AT&T's small business customers and an eco-friendly company that provides water and ice solutions during disaster relief. Together, the three organizations will deploy delivery trucks and water tanks equipped with "Radio Frequency Identification" -- an asset-tracking technology that will collect real-time data on delivery, potability and supply requirements via both satellite and ground network communications. The key to the innovation is that it will dramatically decrease the time taken to amass data on needed resources, enabling faster, better responses to disasters.
Trees for the Future
The nonprofit group Trees for the Future believes that an aggressive reforestation campaign is the only way to permanently restore Haiti's economy, solve their energy issues and minimize the impact of natural disasters on the land. It's a lot to expect from a bunch of trees in an area with such punishing conditions as Haiti, but Trees for the Future is nonetheless deep in the middle of planting thousands of trees around the mountains that surround the city of Gonaïves -- a city that has previously been subjected to so much deforestation that it has no vegetative protection from the herculean mudslides that occur during rainstorms. The idea is that planting the right sort of trees, like the jatropha and moringa, will allow for the cultivation of new, sustainable forests harvested by trained Haitian workforces, boosting Haitian economy and healing the deprived soil.