In the scope of its 2022 annual campaign on the theme of sustainable construction in Latin America, the setec Foundation is supporting the “Collectively Managed Sustainable Infrastructure” project in the markets of Port-au-Prince (Haiti) led by GRET.
Haiti is the victim of a systemic crisis that has affected all sectors of society for several years. From the scarcity of resources to recurrent acts of violence, the inhabitants of Haiti face a situation of precariousness and danger that makes daily activities difficult.
Among these activities, we find food and the resulting purchases of necessities. In Haiti, these purchases are mainly made in the markets. The markets of the Haitian capital are central economic organs of community life: they allow poor and modest households to buy necessities, and provide thousands of local jobs, mostly informal. These large-scale sales areas combine economic functions (jobs, distribution of local products), social functions (places of exchange and sociability, which also make it possible to cushion crises by integrating the most vulnerable members of Haitian society), urban functions and political functions (the markets structure the urban space of Port-au-Prince, which is a real market town).
However, these markets in Port-au-Prince are, for the most part, devoid of the basic infrastructure required for their proper functioning. In a field study conducted by GRET and the Port-au-Prince City Council on the various markets in the capital, GRET reported a crucial lack of sanitary facilities and sorting platforms in these markets. They therefore lack basic hygiene infrastructures, which impacts their efficiency and the ability of the merchants to work in healthy conditions.
Moreover, the women traders, who are at the heart of the functioning of the markets and the Haitian economy, are today prey to violence from armed gangs who are involved in the “parallel management” of the markets. They are under pressure to protect themselves and preserve their sales space and must pay “dues” to continue their activity in complete safety.
The project implemented by GRET consists of building the various infrastructures necessary for the proper functioning of these three markets. Three main issues were identified during the preliminary diagnosis, which are included in these constructions
- Improving hygiene conditions
- Improving waste management
- Improving wastewater and rainwater drainage
By aiming to improve the working conditions of the market women in the three markets identified as priorities, this project benefits two groups of people: the target groups (composed of public actors such as the road and waste collection services, private and community actors such as market workers, and those in the informal waste management economy) and the final beneficiaries (market users, market women and customers, who number at least 12,500 people).
The construction activities consist of
- At the Salomon market: the construction of two functional sanitary blocks (one built and one rehabilitated) and a transit zone (including the related facilities for moving the traders near the transit zone).
- At the Canapé Vert market: the rehabilitation of a sanitary block.
- At the Ravine Pintade market: the construction of a sanitary block.
Rehabilitation of the sanitary block underway the Salomon Market – (c) GRET
On the other hand, it is a question of mobilizing market actors, grouped together within a “Cadre de Concertation et de Réflexion” (CCR), to co-construct the operating rules of the sanitary blocks and the transit zone, the principles of management of sanitation services and waste management, and to define the committees that will be responsible for management. These steps contribute to strengthening habits of collaboration and concerted decision-making and can be transposed to other areas of market life, including the reduction of violence committed by armed gangs.
The CCR, which is an initiative launched in 2021 by GRET, is composed of the various actors mentioned above, as well as the City of Port-au-Prince’s roads department. It is an interesting mechanism for creating a collective feeling, freeing the voice of certain categories of actors traditionally excluded from these bodies, (re)learning to decide together on the future of the markets and organizing the shared management of these large-scale sales areas.
Setting up the management committee – Canapé Vert Market – (c) GRET
The infrastructures built within the framework of the project consider the challenges of sustainable construction in technical terms (construction/rehabilitation principles in compliance with earthquake-resistant standards, cyclone- and earthquake-resistant materials), in terms of ergonomics as well as in terms of the social practices associated with the uses. Due to the prevalence of earthquakes, cyclones, and violent episodes in the capital (stray bullets), it is indeed essential to use particularly resistant building materials. The durability of the infrastructure is guaranteed by
- The involvement of users (merchants and other market players) in the management of the infrastructure, to allow for their ownership, which guarantees their long-term maintenance.
- The environmental vocation of the infrastructures built, allowing for better treatment of wastewater, collection, and evacuation of waste (to prevent pollution of the urban environment).
This project will be monitored by Reginald Baussan, commercial director at setec, who is both the project’s sponsor and the relay of the setec Foundation. As Reginald regularly travels to Haiti, he can visit the GRET teams and exchange on technical aspects of the project with them.