Work has begun on a $5.5 million model village in Gressier, the municipality west of Port-au-Prince that was one of the hardest hit by the 2010 earthquake.The project will provide housing and livelihood support for 1,200 Haitians in a unique, self-governing community setting.
The Lutheran World Federation and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has committed $3.5 million to the project, which is also supported by the Church of Sweden, The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and MINUSTAH, the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti. PWRDF will contribute $150,000.
The construction project is not just about building homes, said the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of the ELCA’s global mission work, in a statement. “It is a sign of hope…an attempt to offer a new start for families.”
The program “seeks to create a community model that other NGOs and local governments in Haiti can follow,” said Simon Chambers, communications coordinator for PWRDF. Donation of the 58,050 square meters of virgin land (which sits 200 meters above sea level) “is a big step forward,” he added. Ownership of the land, which was donated by the Haitian government, will be transferred to village residents, who will in turn have a small mortgage and be involved in maintaining infrastructure.
“Self-governance for all decisions affecting community life” will be promoted, said LWF in a news release. The project will train and equip a community-based disaster risk reduction brigade and the 200 solar-powered housing units, equipped with indoor plumbing, will be “earthquake and cyclone resilient.” There will also be a community center, a playground, community gardens, a green waste system and infrastructure for recycling and environmental sanitation.