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Haiti earthquake diary: The quest for temporary housing

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Saturday, January 30

The Haitian government wants to get everyone in temporary shelters by March 1. An honorable goal, to which I say: "Good luck with that."

To date, the Office of Internal Migration and its partners have delivered more than 6,000 tarps, 1,948 tents, 800 shelter kits, 3,345 items of plastic sheeting, and 400 shelter boxes, each containing a 10-person tent, blankets, water purifiers, mosquito nets, tools, a stove, kitchen equipment, and materials for children to some 36,000 people.

A good start, but barely enough to equip a small metropolitan neighborhood. There are more than one million Haitians left homeless after the Jan. 12 quake flattened the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other towns and cities in the south and west of the country.

More numbers: the shelter "cluster" (the aid groups responsible for shelter) has some 9,290 tarpaulins, 7,295 tents, and 11,940 items plastic sheeting in stock with a further 57,320 tarpaulins, 50,720 tents, 32,912 items of plastic sheeting expected to in the coming days.

Great start, but barely enough.

Every single day, makeshift camps are surfacing. Sorting through the rubble and debris, men and children find wood to pound into the unsettled ground to stake out a new life.

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