When the 3rd Pan-American Regional Conference on Geosynthetics convenes in Miami in April 2016, it will do so with a truly unique sponsorship program for an engineering conference. Geosynthetics industry companies, through their GeoAmericas 2016 sponsorship, may directly benefit the community of Charlier, Haiti, where geosynthetics will be utilized in a broad social and infrastructure development program.
Haiti has historically struggled to sustain development, but it was the 7 Mw earthquake just 16 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince in 2010 that left the country reeling.
Nearly 60% of the population lives in poverty. The GDP is a fraction of most of its Latin American and Caribbean counterparts. Infrastructure development lags considerably, with poor access to clean water, underfunded roads, and structure instability presenting huge obstacles to recovery and potential prosperity.
Sponsors at GeoAmericas 2016 will be part of a unique, single-community impact plan, wherein geosynthetics and geotechnical expertise will be used in the site preparation that will enable the construction of schools and an orphanage.
The longer-term plan for Charlier will involve infrastructure for water, improved road access, and stronger agriculture and business development. These initiatives may involve geosynthetics, which will be central to the eduation-centered Phase 1 development.
Charlier’s population of 5,000 suffers from near-total unemployment. The redevelopment plan, supported early on here by GeoAmericas 2016’s sponsors, will go a long way towards renewing the area setting a foundation for future growth.
REDEVELOPING HAITI WITH GEOSYNTHETICS
An article describing some of the sponsorship program will be published shortly by John Sankey (Reinforced Earth Company), who is coordinating much of the project between the geosynthetics community and the nonprofit group Help for the Children Haiti (HFTC).
The North American Geosynthetics Society (NAGS), which is the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) host chapter for GeoAmericas 2016, has already prepared drainage, erosion control, and sanitary development plans for Charlier. These plans have been integrated with the master development plans from HFTC. Geosynthetics are utilized in the designs.
Future work is expected to include soil and slope stabilization and reinforcement. The needs for materials, equipment, on-site volunteers, and donations will provide additional opportunities for the geosynthetics community to remain involved.
Read more in the first 2015 issue of IGS News (to be distributed in late March / early April) and look for updates on the IGS website and through GeoAmericas 2016’s website.