News FocusRebuilding

From the Bottom Up

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Science  05 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5966, pp. 638-639
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5966.638

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Rebuilding the cities of Haiti to withstand natural disasters seems both simple and impossible. Engineers in the United States, Europe, and Japan have known for decades how to buttress buildings against earthquakes. The 1989 quake near San Francisco, California, for example—although it had the same magnitude as the Haiti tremor (7.0)—killed only 63 people. But Haiti simply doesn't have the money to adopt first-class solutions. Although various governments pledged to support Haiti over the next decade at a meeting in Montreal, Canada, in late January (Haiti is seeking $3 billion), Haiti has very little time to develop a rebuilding plan. With perhaps 170,000 dead and most survivors living outdoors and scared to enter standing structures, Port-au-Prince cannot wait. Nevertheless, scientists do see quick and cheap ways to rebuild—if Haiti is willing and able to accept foreign ideas.