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|Water tap in Lesotho. Photo for Sutika Sipus LLC by David Lazar, 2013.|
Unpacking the situation is not easy. To break it down I've composed the simple table below.
|The Historic City Hall of Mogadishu Somalia (Photo: Sutika Sipus 2012)|
|City Hall, Mogadishu Somalia (Photo: Sutika Sipus 2012)|
|Bustling Market in Mogadishu, Somalia (Photo: Sutika Sipus 2012)|
|Everywhere you look in Mogadishu, business is happening|
(Photo: Sutika Sipus 2012)
So how can we scale this to something smaller and cheaper?
IRIN post concerning the present drought in Somalia. Whereas people in Somali generally depended on water catchments for survival, most of these have dried up and now people are dying, as are their livestock. Livestock that survives is often too weak to sell. The most severe water shortages are in the southern regions, where pastoral livelihoods are a critical aspect of daily life. Somalia's Water and Land Information Management agency, SWALIM, has reported in a recent bulletin that crop production has also been aggressively damaged by the drought. Production of cash crops such as potatoes and citrus only continue in areas where farmers have access to river irrigation systems.
The draught is expected to last 2 or 3 months until the seasonal rains. Supposedly the draught is forcing people to migrate toward urban centers in search for water. Accordingly, "Somalis had begun trucking water, 'but it is not nearly enough,'... one water tanker, with 200 drums (each200 L) costs between $200 and $250." At that cost, 1 liter of water in Somalia is costing over 2 dollars per liter, on par with prices for bottled water in the United States, and it is certainly of much lower quality.
Reading this reminds me of some research I had done a bout a year ago, when it occurred to me one day, "How do people in Mogadishu manage to get water?" I had asked some friends who grew up there, and they explained that water was purchased from vendors who would transport it via donkey cart. Looking online, I happened to find an older article that some households have their own personal borehole while donkey cart delivery remains a common practice. Another common approach is for many families to combine their resources and purchase a larger volume of water that can be then distributed using a pump as needed. A family may spend an entire third of their income on obtaining water.
- Land and any resources found on it are common assets of the clan or the primary lineage that permanently lives on it.
- Pasture is free for all pastoralists irrespective of clan affiliation in time of need.
- Pastoralists should preserve, and not burn, deserted thorn pens for animals.
- Generally nomads can not settle in the grazing valleys, however, in some regions pastoral hamlets may not be allowed to settle in the middle of grazing valleys.
- Individual pastoralists should not destroy shared pasture and fruit bearing trees
- Neither visiting grazers, nor local pastoralists, may establish commercial camps on grazing land.
- Private enclosures or farms on grazing lands are prohibited. No one is allowed to cut grass and transport it into another area.
- Visiting grazers must respect Xeer and maintain peaceful co-existence with the host communities.
- A committee of elders from the visiting group and the local community is empowered to resolve conflicts.
- Kinsmen should assist each other in hard times, particularly during long migrations.
- To reserve an old pen for private use, the head of the pastoralists group should clearly leave leave a mark in the front of the pen.
The Role of Land Use Laws in Architectural Planning and Design for Reconstruction, Refugee, and IDP Camps
When the earthquake immediately happened in Haiti, I recall having several conversations about the creation of IDP camps and popular criticisms regarding a slow reaction by aid agencies. Time and again, as natural disasters strike, displaced populations are forced to seek temporary shelter while various actors struggle to put the pieces beck together. A key, yet heavily under discussed element of this process, is the role of land use laws and ownership.
Land ownership is a messy situation in impoverished countries, as formal systems of documentation and ownership found in the wealthiest countries simply do not exist, or are incredibly corrupt and complicated. Economist Hernando de Soto even advocates that much of the world is trapped in poverty primarily because populations lack access to the articles of ownership and leasing of property. Without deeds, leases, or contacts to facilitate transactions of property, the greatest commodities are the least utilized. Without these mechanisms, land use and ownership laws vary by culture and economy, such as in Somalia where the traditional Xeer system is founded upon the interests of nomadic pastoralism. In much of Somalia, Xeer works alongside secular state law and Islamic Sharia law to form a loosely understood system of Somali Common Law. While it is a challenge for outsiders to penetrate these complex, informal systems, it is often just as difficult for residents to pursue the formal channels of land ownership in their on countries.
If informal arrangements dominate the settlement of displaced persons in Haiti, how can designers, architects and planners advance the reconstruction of Port Au Prince and surrounding regions? Whereas the city organically developed by means of these loose arrangements, can a western system of design and planning facilitate the reconstruction? Clearly it is possible to introduce new housing and urbanism solutions, but then a new complication will arise, as it demands the finding and rightful compensation to existing land owners. Of course this process takes time, and under the constraints of a pending crisis time always appears to be the one resource that is never available.
Now Online: An Assessment of Sphere Humanitarian Standards for Shelter and Settlement Planning in Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Camps
|Photo: Evelyn Hockstein for The New York Times|
Although an array of aid organizations are on the ground, media reports present portray them as struggling to get matters underway. In short, the aggression of the earthquake has broken down the necessary transport lines for the delivery of aid, consequently, agencies are bottlenecked. With a single, partially operating airport in Port-au-Prince, and a defunct harbor, aid agencies are having to determine alternative supply lines, via ground transport from the Dominican republic.
However a quick glance at a map of the roads between these two countries reveals that there are only 2 major arterial roads between the two countries. Each roadway has extends to either the far north or the far south, and assumably have been damaged within the earthquakes as well.
Islands are complicated terrains. An island economy is generally not self sustaining and relies upon a high quantity of imports to maintain its populations. Islands likewise have limited resources available, and therefore have few products available for export or even a balanced consumption by their own populations. Within the Caribbean, it is not uncommon for such islands to primarily thrive on sugar cane or tourism, with additional minor products such as cigar rolling or the manufacture of alcohol for export. Haiti of course has been severely scarred by civil war within the last 10 years, and therefor does not even have such basic assets as their island neighbors.
With such limited economic means, it is easy to recognize that the nation does not have - or possibly even require - an advanced system of physical infrastructure. Although the mandate within aid organizations are to work with communities, the conflict and disaster terrain can only facilitate the distribution of aid to the extent that industrial infrastructure is available.
Within Haiti, aid will therefore continue to be a one way process and will need to be a 'top-down' operation by necessity. Agencies that have strong supply chain capacity and yet flexible field protocol will be the best equipped to handle the situation. But even then, these agencies, such as MSF are faced with daunting challenges. Unable to access fuel for planes and trucks, agencies are forced to import their own fuel. This is of course an expensive and tedious process, considering that the delivery of fuel within vehicle will likewise consume fuel going to and from the destination point. The greater the distance, and the more fuel in delivery, the more fuel that is ultimately consumed. At certain point, the cost/benefit of shipping fuel becomes a loss.
Listening to NPR, watching the news, or reading the papers, many reporters and American citizens clearly have a limited or maligned view of the international institutions working within Haiti. Regardless of appearances, aid agencies do coordinate with one another, emergency rosters and teams do exist on standby for immediate deployment, international aid standards do exist and state governance is in place. Agencies do not have carte blanche to property, resources, or methods as they are still subject to the interest and directives of the sovereign government. Therefore setting up an emergency settlement of tents for 10,000 people is not a matter of immediacy and whim, considering a) the settlement may be there for years b) land ownership and property rights laws still exist and must be honored for the location of such a settlement an c) other large scale planning concerns must be taken into account such as access to water, transportation, sanitation.
It becomes clear that regardless of the procedure taken by the aid organization, in the end, it is the infrastructure of the country that determines the viability of its immediacy. Regardless of political will or the imbalance of power and capital throughout the world, aid will always be better distributed where fuel, supply lines, and raw supplies are readily available. Otherwise, agencies must construct new infrastructure at the same time, reducing the efficacy of their mandate and undermining their success.