For a quick overview of what we do, please download our BoH Booklet as a pdf.
On January 12, 2010 Haiti was struck by a catastrophically devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed over 200,000 people and left approximately 1.3 million people living in tent cities. The year following the earthquake has shown a quick global response to such immediate needs as food and water, while long-term solutions for sturdy and weather resistant shelter have been slow to implement despite billions of dollars of aid pledged by the world.
In addition, water collection and storage solutions have been underfunded or simply never considered by well-intended relief agencies. Water distribution has long been a problem in Haiti, and many Haitians made use of concrete cisterns, which were damaged and contaminated by the earthquake. A problem that has become tragically exposed through the alarming rate at which cholera has spread. Bottled and distributed water has provided immediate relief for the Haitians lucky enough to receive it, but it creates waste and is not a long term solution.
In response to the tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti, Barrels of Hope was created to provide a simple and low-cost housing solution that utilizes locally available debris materials and employs minimally trained disaster victims.
Barrels of Hope accomplishes this mission by building “earth-bag” houses, a technique that utilizes polypropylene sandbags filled with local soil and crushed concrete from ruined buildings as the “bricks”. We provide the materials and training to a family to build a 10×10 structure, on which an additional room can be added in the future.
We send a Rain Barrel Kit filled with all necessary materials for the 10×10 structure (roofing bought/salvaged on site) and a trained Team Leader to manage the build. Contents of the Rain Barrel Kit include: 500 polypropelene bags, 2 rolls of barbed-wire, strapping to hurricane proof the roof and fittings to attach the rain barrel to the gutter system. Packaging of the housing materials in this way allows for efficient distribution to trained disaster survivors and allows those survivors to begin to produce those kits for other survivors as a means of economic recovery, with the assistance of Barrels of Hope and other agencies providing microloans for economic redevelopment.
With earth-bag building, multiple building design configurations are possible – from one room buildings to multi-room barracks style housing. To transition these shelters into permanent housing, roofs and windows will be incorporated, and the polypropylene bags must be protected from solar degradation (within a year) with concrete stucco, lime plaster or mud.
The converted rain barrel further reduces the waste of bottled water distribution, and in areas that are limited in rainfall, provides a safe and inexpensive cistern for distributed water, especially important in areas effected by the recent cholera outbreak. Where soil has been removed for filling earthbags, a permanent concrete cistern can also be created for future rain water collection.