45179_towardssaferschoolconstruction_0 2015 - Page 27

The construction typology of the school buildings was predominantly timber frame, while the modern vernacular of urban Haiti is reinforced concrete frame and concrete block. Haitians, after seeing heavy concrete walls crumble on friends and family, were fearful of rebuilding with masonry. This influenced Save the Children’s initial design choice. However, those initial fears slackened over time, potentially warranting a design shift. The construction of the concrete skirt wall provided some opportunity for training in hazard-resistant techniques, but the timber framing on the upper portions provided significantly fewer opportunities for Haitians to learn new techniques they could apply in their own homes. Learning opportunities would have been enhanced if masonry walls had been full height. These changes would not have significantly increased costs and may have dramatically increased the school’s lifespan. Key takeaways The Save the Children experience in Haiti highlights the importance of applying key principles in safer school construction, and the challenges that come with this process. They were able to ensure the oversight of technical aspects and engage communities as partners to achieve and maintain safer schools on many sites. They were also partially able to develop the skills and awareness of local contractors and community. Supporting a culture of safety and building on local knowledge, however, proved more challenging during this complex humanitarian response. • Periodically review decisions about the tradeoffs between ‘time, quality, quantity and cost’ to ensure the program remains relevant to shifting post-disaster reconstruction contexts. SECTION I: INTRODUCTION Design choice challenges • Where technical construction capacity is low but hazard risks are high, consider using visual and practical teaching approaches rather than printed guidance to engage local workers. • Make the dissemination of risk reduction principles a deliberate goal of both private and public reconstruction projects. • Look to lessons leant in other sectors – such as health and hygiene promotion and community-based shelter reconstruction – for effective education and behavioral change strategies that may be applicable to post-disaster safer school construction. Students during a Disaster Reduction Drill at a school in Leogane Haiti. This school was built with Save the Children’s support using innovative yet simple techniques that make it more hurricane and earthquake-resistant. Photo: Susan Warner/Save the Children. 18