Haitian and Dominican bishops said March 14 that they will create a commission that will work to help reconstruct Haiti more than two years after a major earthquake destroyed the Caribbean nation.
Several Catholic groups have been working on the ground toward reconstructing the country. The commission will differ in that it will focus on recruiting volunteers and encouraging donations from the private sector.
“As the bishops’ conference of Haiti is particularly interested in seeing that the solidarity, assistance and cooperation for the reconstruction of areas affected by the earthquake of 2010 does not stop, the Dominican Episcopal conference has decided to invite qualified volunteers ― and collect support from individuals, businesses, institutions ― to support the reconstruction of Haiti,” the conferences said in a joint statement March 14.
The commission will focus on “getting quality (building) materials at affordable prices,” including cement and steel rebar, used to reinforce concrete, the statement said. Donations will be channeled to Catholic groups working in the country, the bishops said.
A lack of quality materials and poorly enforced building codes contributed to the breadth of destruction when the magnitude-7 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010. Some 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings were destroyed or badly damaged.
The Haitian government estimated 316,000 were killed, although that number remains in dispute. Among those who died was Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince.
Foreign governments and individuals around the world pledged billions in aid to help rebuild.
But more than two years later, nearly 500,000 earthquake survivors live in tents and tarp-covered shacks in camps in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince, according to the International Organization for Migration.