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15 April 2010 | PR 10/72

Loughborough University expertise aiding Haiti relief effort

One of the emergency camps set up in Haiti to house the 1.7 million people left homeless by the January earthquake.

A Loughborough University expert in emergency sanitation has travelled to Haiti to support the major relief effort taking place across the country.

Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake in January, which killed more than 200,000 people and left over a million homeless.  Today vast areas of its capital city, Port au Prince, are still without power, safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

Bob Reed a Senior Lecturer from the University’s Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) has worked in many disaster areas, including the Asian Tsunami.  Supported by colleagues back at WEDC, he is working with UNICEF and the Haiti Government to assist with the provision of emergency sanitation systems in Port au Prince.

Speaking about what he has witnessed so far in Haiti Bob said: “Everywhere you look there are tented encampments, literally hundreds of camps from just a few tents to several thousand.  There is still a high level of trauma within the population.  Many people are still fearful of going home – I don't know if it’s because of the fear of further earthquakes or the memories of lost loved ones.”

In regular contact with WEDC, Bob’s colleagues are providing essential technical back up to support his work in the devastated country.  Disposing of human waste for a tented population of 1.7 million is essential for preventing the outbreak of disease.  However space in the emergency camps is very congested and at present there is little room to build simple pit latrines.

“Natural disasters, massive corruption and heavy political interference from other countries has left Haiti poor and disorganised,” Bob adds.  “The Government is finding it very hard to deal with the effects of this disaster.  Only now, supported by the UN, has it been able to start relocating people, offering cash and materials to encourage some to return home and building a large relocation camp on the outskirts of the city for others.  This will effectively become a new town when finished but at the moment it is a very large open flat piece of land with lines of tents and nothing much else.  Oxfam are working there providing water and toilets but the rest is being done by the UN and the US army.”

WEDC, which is part of the University’s Department of Civil and Building Engineering, has been involved with emergency water supply and sanitation for almost 40 years and is internationally renowned for its work.  Many of the senior staff in the support agencies working in Haiti are former WEDC students who trained at Loughborough.   

Bob is due to return to the University later this month.

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.L.Wing@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2009 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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