30.04.17 - The European Union-funded research project “Port-au-Prince, between vulnerability and urban growth: the construction of a Caribbean metropolis” is at the origin of the international symposium that took place in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from April 25 to 27, 2017.

In 2015, five years after the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti and caused nearly 300,000 deaths, the research project raised the question whether the vulnerability of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and its 3 million residents had increase or decrease following the earthquake crisis.

Partners in action

These questions on these years of reconstruction of Port-au-Prince seem, at first glance, technical and urbanistic. Undoubtedly so! However, they are also strategic, political, institutional, financial, territorial, economic and sociological. The interdisciplinary research allowed for a partnership between institutions with complementary disciplines and competencies, and included two Haitian universities (RESCIF members), the UEH (the State University of Haiti), Quisqueya University, the EPFL (represented by the CODEV and CEAT) and the University of Paris 8 (coordinator and driving force behind the implementation of activities).

Post-crisis reflection and opening: an international symposium that went beyond the project

The innovation the symposium offered went well beyond the research results. Three days of presentations, exchanges and site visits allowed participants to better understand the many studies being carried out in Haiti, to honor young researchers and PhD students, and to compare the crisis and post-crisis situations at the international scale with the participation of colleagues (especially those from African countries) to share their perception of the problems.

The CODEV very much involved in the research and a colloquium participant

Abigail Kern, a young EPFL doctor and an associate researcher at the CODEV and Quisqueya University, and Jean-Claude Bolay, director of the CODEV, represented the School in two papers, one on meanings that can be given to the concept of sustainable urban development and the other on the concept of “crisiology.” Jean-Claude Bolay was Dr. Kern’s advisor for her dissertation on urban governance in intermediate Haitian cities in a crisis context following the earthquake. Lively debates, impressive field visits and fruitful discussion marked the 3-day symposium, which concluded with a question from Rector Lumarque, head of Quisqueya University: Can we speak of post-crisis, or should we assume that the crisis continues and its face has simply changed. While there is no longer an urgent need to save lives, as was the case in January 2010, a deep crisis permeates Haiti. The urban and social instability that shocks us in Port-au-Prince is a constant reminder for us.

Author:Jean-Claude BolaySource:Cooperation