Matthew Price, BBC Port-au-Prince, 12 February 2010:
In just a few weeks, by the end of March, or in April, the rainy season will begin. Some 700,000 people are living out in the open, in makeshift shelters. The luckier have found old and rusty corrugated iron roofs. Others huddle under bed-sheets strung between wooden poles. Shelter is, according to aid agencies, a monumental challenge.
As Haiti marks the one-month anniversary of its devastating earthquake, attention turns to shelter before the rainy season. Matthew Price goes on to report the additional misery that a pre-season deluge caused in the shanty town. However, as the Clemson University SEED Project (image) has shown, the solution is at hand:
Shipping containers are designed to carry massive amounts of cargo and withstand extreme weather conditions making them a logical housing component. Completely constructed of steel... [they] resist overturn when exposed to winds up to 140 mph. Without modification a 40 foot shipping container has 304 square feet of floor space and eliminates problems associated with insects, fire, and hurricanes. With modification a 40 foot shipping container can be a safe, comfortable, and environmentally friendly home for numerous local inhabitants who would otherwise have less.
Okay, combine Clemson's research (begun, according to Science Daily, in response to hurricane damage) with this fact: even though the worldwide recession has hit the container shipping business badly, and traffic is down a massive 10 percent last year, container ships continue to be built. See "New Ships Idle, Waiting for Cargo to Fill Them," Matthew Saltmarsh, New York Times, 15 January 2010:
... shipbuilders are expected to deliver 371 container ships this year and 127 in 2012, according to Alphaliner. The container fleet will grow 14 percent in 2010 and almost 10 percent next, meaning that even more ships will be competing for cargo.
Okay: shipping industry, meet container warehouses, meet aid agencies. It's a perfect storm. Meanwhile, the weather report for Haiti predicts heavy rain.