APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Build Change has a memorandum of agreement with the Haiti Ministry of Public Works to develop simple building guidelines for new construction and retrofitting, as well as to improve the quality of building materials. By evaluating the technical and financial aspects of small scale block production in Haiti, Build Change and Save the Children have determined that small, low or no cost changes to the production process, as well as better cash flow management, can markedly increase the quality of concrete blocks. Preliminary testing indicates that these simple changes can double or triple the strength of the block. Furthermore, better financial management, inventory control, and cash flow management can facilitate higher profitability for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as well as increase employment opportunities for Haitian workers. These processes will be improved though hands-on training and marketing programs to create demand for a better building product from large donors.
Build Change provides technical assistance and training directly to the owners and workers at block manufacturing facilities. The training and inputs are completed on a one-on-one, on-the-job basis. Build Change is in the process of preparing a simple do-it-yourself guideline for better block manufacturing and inventory control. To facilitate quality evaluation, Build Change has partnered with technical experts including Degenkolb Engineers, Consolidated Engineering Laboratories, and Hilti to design and manufacture a portable testing apparatus which is essential for confirming that blocks meet quality standards. This machine is being tested now; once it is proven and profitable, Build Change will empower Haitian entrepreneurs to take the small business forward.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
The three month pilot project began in June and ends in August 2011. The scaled, one year project with 60 Haitian SMEs will begin in September. On average, each block manufacturer can produce and sell enough blocks for 9 housing units in a month; in a year, 60 manufacturers can sell enough blocks for 6,480 housing units, which could meet the needs of 20,000 people. Also, each manufacturer employs on average 10 workers, and may lead to increased incomes of 600 Haitian workers.
As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti needs jobs, and people who have lost their houses in the 2010 earthquake need good quality building materials. One of the most common building materials in Haiti is a concrete block, known better as CMU. The strength of blocks produced by local small businesses in Haiti is widely variable and in most cases, the quality and strength are lower than that required by new reconstruction guidelines issued by the Haitian Ministry of Public Works. Build Change has a memorandum of agreement to provide technical assistance to the Ministry, which includes development of building and material standards for safe construction. Build Change employs over 40 Haitian construction professionals, who since 2010 have trained over 3,500 people in Haiti on locally appropriate, disaster-resistant building methods.
Build Change is seeking financial resources to continue maintaining its network of certified block makers through testing, training and marketing activities while working with relevant Haitian authorities to provide oversight and regulation to the production of concrete blocks.
Build Change is also seeking organizations engaged in reconstruction projects in Haiti to provide the financing required to train block makers in the areas of their reconstruction projects and agree to purchase blocks from existing certified block makers.
Build Change is seeking funding to train an additional 40 block makers per year for the next four years and expand the certified block-makers network at a pace of two new departments per year, so as to have country-wide coverage by 2016.
Build Change also seeks media support to better share best practices and heighten awareness about the benefits and success of this program.
Build Change offers to share lessons learned by speaking with other groups and organizations about the better materials program and discuss opportunities to scale this program to other vulnerable regions in Haiti and other developing countries.
Build Change also offers to train other CGI members on this process and how to test blocks to scale impacts and ensure the use of good-quality materials.