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Mail Processing Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Project Overview: Haiti’s devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010 left the country in shambles, with vital services seriously disrupted. One of those services was postal distribution, which was impacted when the main post office in Port-au-Prince was destroyed. About 60 employees work at the processing center, which handles letters, parcels, express mail and international mail, and also houses Customs services.

Challenge: To create a functional semi-permanent building that could be quickly mobilized to assume postal operations, yet be strong enough to last for years while withstanding extremes in tropical weather (such as hurricanes).

Shelter Specifics: A gable-style frame of galvanized steel trusses, measuring 18 meters (60 feet) wide by 30 meters (100 feet) long by 7 meters (22.69 feet) high. It has 4.5 meter (15 foot) sidewalls. The structure is covered with a white, Teflon-coated, fireproof PVC fabric that allows ambient light into the building during the day.

Results: The new postal installation in Haiti officially resumed operations on May 11, 2010, just four months after the earthquake. The restoration of this basic communications function was critical to Haiti’s ongoing recovery, according to Edvard Despeignes, acting director general of the Haitian Post. “This new mail processing center is a major step in helping the Haitian Post function more normally,” he said.

The new post office was built as part of an emergency aid project managed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations specialized agency, with funding provided through its member countries. “This building is something concrete, tangible,” said Minister Josseline Colimon Féthière. “The UPU kept its word and helped Haiti in its efforts to rebuild. On behalf of the president of the Republic, the government and the Haitian population, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”