As the one-year anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake approaches, more than one million people are still homeless and trying to rebuild their lives. We’ll learn about some of the transitional housing being built for people in camps and hear about a new project to recycle some of the rubble remaining in Port-au-Prince.


  • Elke Leidel Country Director for Haiti, Concern Worldwide
  • Michel Pun CRUSH Project Manager, CHF International
  • Lieutenant General P.K. Keen Military Deputy Commander of U.S. Southern Command; Commander, Joint Task Force Haiti during Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE
  • Karl Jean-Louis Executive Director, Haiti Aid Watchdog

Full Audio: General P.K. Keen

As promised on air, here’s Kojo’s full interview with General P.K. Keen:

Scenes from Haiti as it Rebuilds

WAMU 88.5’s Andrew Chadwick photographed scenes from Haiti last month as it continues to rebuild:

CRUSH Project By CHF International


  • 12:06:42

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 in Washington and live from the studios of Radio Metropole in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, preserving Haiti's rich, artistic heritage, we look at a new effort to preserve some of the art damaged in the earthquake, but first, what comes after the tent cities? It's a question that's still unanswered.

  • 12:07:14

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe camps that cropped up everywhere after the earthquake have now become mini-communities. Places with their own governing bodies, churches and marketplaces. And while everyone agrees that people can't live in tents forever, no one knows what these tent cities will look like five years from now. Better housing is now being built in some of the camps. And our reporter, Sabri Ben-Achour, went to visit one of them. It's called Tabarre Issa. And he spoke with Elke Leidel with concern, the NGO putting this new community together.

  • 12:07:51

    MS. ELKE LEIDELThe space that you can see here is about for 540 families. And as you can see, there were tents before. You still see the tents. And as we manage to construct the temporary shelters, the people can move out of the tents and get into shelters. And temporary, our transition are, in any case, we hope that they last five to 10 years at least that we hope. We have tested them, and they are hurricane-proof and they are normally earthquake resistant.

  • 12:08:24

    MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOURAnd this that we're walking on here.

  • 12:08:26

    LEIDELWe're walking on gravel and the whole site here that you can see, where you see houses or tents, was actually quite of a bad area, and it needed to consider a backfilling, this is the gravel that you see. And if you walk around the edges, you will see drainage canals that we put up to ensure that the people won't have water in their tents when it's raining. Not even if it's raining heavily. So you can see the foundations for the temporary shelter. They are set up in distances that allow people a certain private space. We have three different sizes, actually, for the shelters. It depends on the family size. So for very large families, it's about 27 square meters. And then we have about 18 square meters. And if it's really one or two persons only, it's less. It's about 13 square meters, which doesn't sound very much, but the thing is that the climate here allows people, normally, to live outside. They can also build annexes later. We actually hope that they're going to do this, that they really feel comfortable and at home here.

  • 12:09:28

    BEN-ACHOURWhat are the walls up there? That's -- they're gonna be made out of...

  • 12:09:31

    LEIDELIt's wood, and then it's a cement fiber that we're using, because it's a bit fire resistant. So even if one of the houses would finally and eventually catch fire, it would not necessarily spread everywhere, which is a big danger if you have tents, for example, or not such good material. So we opted for this also because we think, here, in this particular place, where the land ownership is clear, where nobody will force them away, it is likely that the people stay for quite a few years.

  • 12:10:01

    BEN-ACHOUROne thing that I've heard USAID talk about and others talk about is that it is -- a challenge with transitional housing is that it's just very difficult to find land in the first place. Was that a challenge for you all?

  • 12:10:12

    LEIDELThat was very big challenge for us as well. And it is very difficult to get land at all.

  • 12:10:17

    BEN-ACHOURWhy is it so difficult?

  • 12:10:18

    LEIDELBecause most of the land is in private hands. And very often, landownership is not clear. There is no cadastre here that allows freely to trace who is the owner of the land. So very often, you come to a piece of land and you think, well, that could be quite good to build some transitional shelters. Then you start inquiring who's the landowner, and then you have three, four landowners. And it's not really easy to prove it. You don't find the documents anymore. Partly, this is now also due to the earthquake, because those documentation got lost. But even without that, it's not easy to prove who is the owner and can we make sure that we can rely on the information we get and to build shelter together with the people.

  • 12:10:59

    BEN-ACHOURWhere do they come from? Are all of these people from nearby? Or where they moved from somewhere else?

  • 12:11:03

    LEIDELNo. The people that you see here in Camp Tabarre Issa, they were coming from Bourdon Valley. It is a valley that was very much threatened by landslides, mudslides and also there is a river that would just come over its borders when it was raining. So there were a couple of sites in town that were very dangerous, and this was one of the areas where it was made clear to all of us, basically, that there need to be space found for the people who live there, because the next rain or the next whatever could just cause a disaster.

  • 12:11:37

    BEN-ACHOURPart of the bigger plan in the government of Haiti plan, USAID is also involved, is to move everyone out from the overpopulated city.

  • 12:11:43

    LEIDELMm-hmm. Yeah.

  • 12:11:46

    BEN-ACHOURBut once they're here, what are they going to do? I mean, is it harder to make a living when you're further out from the density of population?

  • 12:11:54

    LEIDELThe further out you are, the more it's getting difficult, I suppose. But here, although it looks quite out and maybe a bit remote at the moment, still, it is quite well connected to the city. You have tap-taps going there. The public taxi transports, that's tap-taps. You have quite a few other possibilities of getting there, so that people don't give up the livelihood options that they had before, they can still go there and work if they had a job before. So that is not the key problem. In the long term, it's certainly important, and this is valid for all parts of Haiti, whether it's rural or urban, to invest into opportunities for people to have more durable, more sustainable jobs than just this short term cash -for-work programs. That is definitely something that we all have to think about. The government, the people themselves, the aid agencies, everybody.

  • 12:12:46

    BEN-ACHOURSomething that I've seen repeatedly in the camps is absolutely terrible sanitation...

  • 12:12:52


  • 12:12:52 know, toilets. How many toilets are you gonna have here? What are you gonna do about dislodging them? How's it gonna work?

  • 12:12:58

    LEIDELYeah. At the moment and while people still are partly in tents, it's a communal system. This means several people have access to one toilet. So we have a ratio of approximately 20 people for one toilet that is even in line with international so-called Sphere standards. The standards that are set up for what should you do in a refugee camp setting, what should you do in a displacement setting.

  • 12:13:22

    BEN-ACHOURSo how many toilets would we have then for 2,500 people in this camp? How many toilets are we gonna have at the end?

  • 12:13:28

    LEIDELAt the end, each family will have an individual toilet. Yes, it's kinda the luxury version so if you want but we felt if you do such a thing and because it was likely that the people would stay here for a long time. It is known from other contacts that people take much better care if they know it's theirs. The communal toilets, it is -- as much as you try, you'll really reach a certain degree of being taken cared of, but it's different than when the people feel it's really theirs.

  • 12:13:56

    BEN-ACHOURThere are, you know, so many other camps out there. Do you think this is going to make it to everybody? What's the big picture for transitional housing in Haiti looking like right now?

  • 12:14:04

    LEIDELYou see, it is not the lack of having, in theory, the sufficient number of houses at some point available. It is the lack of space. It is the lack of land. And as long as we don't get land allocated or more land, we can't produce or provide more temporary shelters, and this is the same problem that all agencies are facing.

  • 12:14:24

    BEN-ACHOURWhat is it going to take to change -- I mean, it sounds like it would take a legal revolution to change that?

  • 12:14:29

    LEIDELIt will probably take quite a few steps. I mean, we -- it is very easy. If you compare the cost of what it takes to keep people in places that are so desperate that you probably saw totally overcrowded, where actually nobody wants them to be, because it's public places in the center of the city. And what does it cost to build such a place here? I think we do have to make this comparison and then provide this is as a kind of -- as a proof why it's worth building something what we are trying here.

  • 12:15:02

    NNAMDIThat was WAMU 88.5's Sabri Ben-Achour at a camp known as Tabarre Issa, talking with Elke Leidel of Concern. We're going to transition now to a topic that's been a big one here since the earthquake, rubble removal. As the one year anniversary of the earthquake approaches, you can still see rubble all over the city. Homeowners who cleaned up their collapsed houses, dumped the rubble into the street where it blocks traffic and can cause major traffic jams until it's cleaned up. Joining me now to talk more about rubble and an innovative approach to dealing with it is Alberto Wilde. He is country director with CHF International in Haiti, an international development organization that's based in Silver Spring, Md. Alberto, thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:15:47

    MR. ALBERTO WILDEThank you.

  • 12:15:48

    NNAMDIAlso with us in the studios of Radio Metro is Michel Pun, manager of the CRUSH rubble removal project at CHF International. Michel Pun, thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:15:59

    MR. MICHEL PUNThank you for inviting me.

  • 12:16:01

    NNAMDIWell, give us a sense of how much rubble was in the city immediately after the earthquake, Alberto, and how it affected regular life?

  • 12:16:10

    WILDEWell, right after the earthquake, there were so many (word?) that were out there. People were estimating millions of cubic liters of rubble, but nobody knew with certainty how much rubble was there. We at CHF, we -- right after the earthquake, we started with clearing the rubble. We know that this was going to be one of the major problems, and we had a perfect collaboration with Caterpillar Corporation and the local dealer here, Caterpillar Haitian Tractor who made available -- had equipment, so we started clearing the main arteries right after the earthquake. We're talking about three to four days right after the earthquake.

  • 12:17:00

    NNAMDIMichel, how would you compare the rubble situation now with January? Is the city where you would expect it to be 10 months later?

  • 12:17:10

    PUNWell, no one would expect the city to be where it is 10 months later. We would expect us to be more advanced of where we are right now.

  • 12:17:18

    NNAMDIIs there anyone officially in charge of removing rubble? Is the Haitian government coordinating the effort of NGOs like yours?

  • 12:17:27

    PUNWell, the government has taken (unintelligible) through the CNE, which is the National Center of Equipment, that they have been doing some clearing of rubble removal, but, obviously, the amount of equipment is not at the level it should be as the level of funding available for heavy equipment is just not there. Initially, most of the organizations took the approach of cash (unintelligible) to clean the rubble. This is the right approach to inject cash into people's pocket, but you will -- eventually, you will get there but how long it will take to clear rubble through casual work versus clearing with heavy equipment.

  • 12:18:13

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call if you have questions or comments about why it's taking so long to clear rubble in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 800-433-8850. Or you can join the conversation at our website, We're on our Facebook there, you can also see photos that we've taken during our trip here to Port-au-Prince. You can also join the conversation by sending an e-mail to or a tweet @kojoshow. Michel, your project involves recycling rubble and using it for new purposes. Can you explain how do you recycle rubble?

  • 12:18:49

    PUN(unintelligible) that's very interesting. What we do is we have micro-crushers and mini-crushers. They are, basically, equipment that were built outside Haiti, mostly were procured through our bidding process, and we have approximately 12 (unintelligible) also affected by the earthquake. And the goal is to at least recycle most of the rubble site. Some of these sites that we had in the past (unintelligible) cleared the sites and put into a new site. So we are, basically, taking these concrete (word?) blocks, cement and crushing to a fine (unintelligible) basically making sand and backfill material. And there (unintelligible) used in our shelter projects, basically, building the slabs and the backfill for these -- to elevate the shelters.

  • 12:19:46

    NNAMDINormally, (unintelligible) have to do with rubble that's removed from the streets if it's not recycled, where does it go to?

  • 12:19:53

    PUNUnfortunately, it has to be dumped somewhere. The government of Haiti has a few dumps. One was initially out in the -- one of the private ports and it was dumped -- being dumped into the ocean. The second (unintelligible) which is a landfill which is not great for recycle to dump (word?). So that's why we came out with these innovative idea to instead of hauling the rubble from one place to other and spending 60 percent of the budget in transportation, we came up with the idea of recycling (unintelligible) place to be reused on -- as a base for roads or to come up with new ways of use this sand for base and slabs and also for potentially new blocks that we're testing the resistance on in terms of the (word?) size.

  • 12:20:58

    NNAMDIWhen you talk about hauling it from one place to another, you mentioned earlier that there are two options. One is using heavy equipment to remove the rubble or cash for removal of the rubble. That second option involves paying people with essentially wheelbarrows to remove rubble?

  • 12:21:14

    PUNThat's correct. That's correct. If we analyze topography, if we see the topography of Port-au-Prince, you have a small -- you have deep slopes where (unintelligible) we cannot access with heavy equipment so you have to use cash for work. Basically, it is you're paying people to remove rubble. We pay for (unintelligible) and hammers to destroy and haul and put that in a truck that will transport that to a dumpsite.

  • 12:21:43

    NNAMDI(unintelligible) we're talking about mostly building materials from buildings that have collapsed but also include furniture and other household objects. Correct?

  • 12:21:52

    PUNThat's correct.

  • 12:21:53

    NNAMDIAgain, you can join the conversation, 800-433-8850. We're coming to you live from the studios of Radio Metropole, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Talking about rebuilding Haiti with Alberto Wilde, country director with the CHF International in Haiti, an international development organization based in (unintelligible) and Michel Pun, manager of the CRUSH Rubble Removal Project of CHF International. Are you aware of any other organizations Alberto, that are also...

  • 12:22:23

    MS. DIANE VOGELHi. You're listening to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," live from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We're experiencing some technical difficulties as you might have heard. So we'll be getting back to Kojo and his guests in a moment. I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of the show, sitting in while we smooth out those technical glitches. We'll take a short break, and we'll be back after this.

  • 12:24:48

    MS. DIANE VOGELWelcome back to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," where we're broadcasting live from Port-au-Prince, Haiti and talking about rubble removal and the challenges of cleaning up with a local here at Washington, D.C., international development agency that's based here in Silver Spring called CHF International. I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." We've had a little technical difficulties and we're getting back on the line with Kojo momentarily. But while we do that, I'll remind you that Kojo was speaking with Alberto Wilde, the country director for CHF International, as well as Michael -- Michel Pun, the manager of CRUSH Rubble Removal for CHF International. While we get ready, you're welcome to give us a call on 1-800-433-8850, 1-800-433-8850. Tell us what you would like to hear Kojo explore in the time remaining in his time in Haiti, or tell us about the follow ups on this show or others that you'd like to see in the weeks to come. Again, that number is 1-800-433-8850 or Last week, Kojo sat down with Gen. Ken Keen -- Lt. Gen. Ken Keen. He is the Military Deputy Commander for the U.S. Southern Command. General -- Lt. Gen. Keen has been overseeing the U.S. Military disaster relief forces in Haiti known as the Joint Task Force. Kojo sat down with Lt. Gen. Keen last week and here's what he had to say.

  • 12:26:33

    NNAMDIGeneral Keen, it’s my understanding that you were already in Haiti on January 12th during the earthquake. And that you were at a hotel late in the afternoon when the rumbling started. Can you walk us through that experience?

  • 12:26:48

    LT. GEN. KEN KEENWell, I was in Haiti on a pre-planned visit. In fact, I was with Ambassador Merten at his residence when the earthquake occurred. I had some members of my team that were at Hotel Montana. But it was, as you can imagine a -- an experience that you -- one would never forget. A very violent shaking with loud noises, which I think we determined later were probably collapsing of some major buildings that were near the ambassador residence, which sits on a hill top that overlooks the city.

  • 12:27:33

    NNAMDIWe had a very mild earthquake here in Washington a few months ago and it was my first experience of an earthquake. I don't know if you had been through one before. But even if you had, were you familiar or had you ever experience anything like this?

  • 12:27:49

    KEENWell, I had never experienced anything like that. I had been in Rome, Italy during a previous earthquake. But it was very minor, as well as in Bogota, Colombia. But it was very mild shaking that lasted for a short period of time. This was very violent. It was immediately -- you immediately realized that something was wrong. The ambassador and I were sitting on his veranda and when it immediately started, we both reacted the same and ran out into his backyard and literally had to take a knee to prevent from falling to the ground. And we could see his residence swaying back and forth. Fortunately, it did not collapse. But it was very violent shaking with the -- literally the earth moving under your feet.

  • 12:28:46

    NNAMDICould you tell at that point -- did you have some sense at that point that the effect would be devastating?

  • 12:28:54

    KEENWell, we could -- immediately after the earthquake we could hear the screaming of the Haitian people that were in the neighborhoods close to the residence. We could immediately see it was -- just short of 5:00 in the afternoon, just before the sunset. And the dust cloud that rose above the city almost immediately gave you immediate realization that this had caused tremendous damage besides what you had heard from collapsing structures. Now we immediately reacted because the ambassador's family was inside his residence and my executive officer was as well, because we immediately reacted as soon as it stopped to try to locate them, go inside and -- while his residence didn't collapse, it created tremendous damage inside the house with things falling over and much of what was on the walls fell off. So it was very clear immediately the level of destruction, obviously, we realized in the coming hours just how bad it was.

  • 12:30:11

    NNAMDIHow soon after that did Americans and Haitian government officials start showing up at the ambassador's residence for assistance?

  • 12:30:20

    KEENWell, the -- we were able through the -- our telephones did not work immediately. But the ambassador and the embassy employees have a radio system -- a merged radio system that they maintain that he was able to turn on immediately. So we were able to communicate with other that work in the embassy, his deputy chief admission, his security officer and other. So we were able to get reports from them. We did not hear directly from government officials for a few hours because we could not get in touch with them. But the president did send three of his ministers to the ambassador's residence later that evening. As I recall, it was shortly before midnight when they actually made their way there. They had to literally come there on motorcycles because they could not get through the streets on cars. And it took them as you can imagine, it was the middle of the night, very chaotic, streets blocked, lots of injured folks. So it took them several hours to make their way to the ambassador's residence to talk to us about what the president thought they needed and to express their desires for U.S. assistance.

  • 12:31:46

    NNAMDIWe're talking with Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, he is the military deputy commander of the U.S. southern command. He led the U.S. military disaster relief forces in Haiti known as the Joint Task Force Haiti. Gen. Keen, since the earthquake hit in January, the...

  • 12:32:02

    VOGELYou’ve been listening to Kojo's interview with Lt. Gen. Keen. I'm Diane Vogel helping out while Kojo is -- while we re-establish connections with Kojo. We think that Kojo is on the air now and can be heard again. Kojo, can you hear me?

  • 12:32:17

    NNAMDII can certainly hear you, Diane Vogel. We are back live from the studios of Radio Metropole in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. And we did anticipate before we even got here that there would be some problems with our connection from time to time. The line dropped for a while there, but now we are back talking about rebuilding Haiti. And joining me now in studio is Karl Jean-Louis, executive director and co-founder of Haiti Aid Watchdog, which is a Haitian organization, created to monitor the international aid flowing into the country. Karl Jean-Louis, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:32:50

    MR. KARL JEAN-LOUISThank you, Kojo. Thank you for inviting me.

  • 12:32:53

    NNAMDITell us about your experience of the earthquake and the days and the weeks that followed.

  • 12:32:58

    JEAN-LOUISWell, I was here in January 12 doing some consulting work, and during that day, I was with some friends. And it was a very, very tough experience. Walking from Petra Ville all the way to downtown to go back home in the dark. And then we have to go through some dead bodies and to the total chaos to get back home. And we are lucky that our family was okay. And the next day, we are on the street helping friends and families and people that we -- wouldn't know, and also doing some community work. And that's -- after this experience, that we decided then to put together this organization because we started to realize that a lot of organizations are coming to help out. So while we are doing this, but we realize it was very important to look at the macro level and see how this aid will be coordinated, so that the Haitian people can really benefit from that effort.

  • 12:33:57

    NNAMDIYou look at that macro level, you see 14,000 NGOs operating in Haiti. You're organization is trying to keep tabs on the huge international response that's been here since January. That is daunting task. Tell us a little bit more about how you're going about doing that work.

  • 12:34:15

    JEAN-LOUISIt is daunting task. What we do -- our first reports in February, March, we went on the website and looking at least of international organization that came to Haiti to help. And we decided to monitor that reports. And what we found is, first of all, out 57 organization that identified by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. And this organization collected about a billion dollars. We found out that only less than 5 percent of these organizations are reporting of what they're doing in Haiti 60 days after the earthquake. Our second report, we went on the tent talking to the people, to the victims, getting the sense, to seek if they were getting water, food. And it's a lot of them were getting the water and food but didn't -- have no idea who was those service providers. So through that gap, we realized that there's really lack of communication between the international organization and the general public.

  • 12:35:27

    JEAN-LOUISSo our third report was at focusing on woman and the handicap. And we find out that woman and the handicaps and children were not getting the aid as they should. And we wrote about that and give some recommendation. And later, we look at different aspect of the aid. As a matter of fact, our next report will be about the impact of the aid on the camps, and we find out close to only 20 percent of the camps. There's about 1,200 camps in Port-au-Prince, only 30 percent are covered of receiving services from the international NGOs, which telling us the numbers of NGOs and the amount of the money that has been collected, you know, it's not proportionate with the service that the international organization should provide to the Haitian people.

  • 12:36:23

    NNAMDILet's go to the telephones and take a call from Serge in Washington, D.C. Serge, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:36:29

    SERGEYes. Thanks for letting me get on the air. My question had to do precisely with the NGOs, the three parts of a short question. Who controls the NGOs? Whom do they report to? And what other criteria used to retain their services? That's -- I will get the answer on the air. Thank you.

  • 12:36:54

    NNAMDIA three-part question from Serge for you, Karl Jean-Louis.

  • 12:36:59

    JEAN-LOUISOkay. We find out that, technically, when an NGO is coming to Haiti, the Ministry of Planification is -- the NGO is responsible to register at this ministry. And this -- the NGO must present a plan of action and -- that define his budget to the Ministry of Plan. There's a unit within the Ministry of Plan called (word?), and this unit is responsible to monitor and receive the report from any international organization that interested to work in Haiti. After the earthquake, a lot of civil servant within this unit died. And right now, within the ministry, this unit is very weak and, of course, with the overwhelming numbers of NGOs that came to Haiti, it's now is very difficult for the ministry to identify all the NGOs in Haiti and that's why Haiti Watchdog is doing advocacy for the ministry to either sort volunteer, find the resources to be able to identify the number of NGOs working in Haiti, what they are doing, in what sector and what kind of service they are providing to the people.

  • 12:38:27

    NNAMDIDo you think ultimately that the Haitian government and these NGOs could find a way to work together more effectively, and if so, how?

  • 12:38:37

    JEAN-LOUISOkay. Again, that's what we are advocating. We do an advocacy with -- I think one, the Ministry of Planning of Haiti needs to mandate that all international organization to register online. They have a website. They have to register online, providing information on how much money they have collected, what sector they -- what kind of service they are providing, and which location they want to focus and for how long. I think once you do that, then you have an inventory -- sort of inventory of who is doing what and where. And I think the Ministry of Planning needs to put an evaluation unit to really monitor the performance of those NGOs. Of course, this will require a lot of, you know, human resources. But I think Haiti needs a capacity building fund with all the money has been collected for Haiti through this international organization. Haiti Watchdog is proposing to create a capacity building fund that will help the ministry to build to its capacity to do its job.

  • 12:39:46

    NNAMDIKarl Jean-Louis, thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:39:48

    JEAN-LOUISThank you. Thanks, Kojo.

  • 12:39:49

    NNAMDIKarl Jean-Louis is executive director and co-founder of Haiti Aid Watchdog, a Haitian organization created to monitor the international aid flowing into the country. We'll be going to a short break, but as you may have noticed, we cut short the interview. We pre-taped with Gen. Keen in order to return to our live broadcast here in Port-au-Prince. But if you want to hear the rest of that discussion, it's posted to our website When we come back, look at some of the treasures hiding underneath that rubble we've been talking about. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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