One year ago, on October 4, 2016, Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, which churned over the Caribbean nation as a Category 4 storm. The results were catastrophic, leaving more than 600 Haitians dead, and affecting more than 2.1 million people.
With support from people all over the world, as well as key funding bodies, such as USAID, Handicap International sprang into action. Teams provided 1,000 emergency kits, packed with tools to rebuild homes, as well as household items such as solar-powered lamps, water cans, and mosquito nets. Our teams coordinated road and sea journeys to deliver aid and remove rubble. In addition, we provided psychological support and physical rehabilitation to individuals in the months that followed.
Haitians remain extremely vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters. 2.7 million people across the country are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, with the majority living in fragile structures, in isolated areas, and with little financial security.
In September 2017, millions of people around the world tracked the paths of hurricanes Irma and Maria as they created untold destruction across the Caribbean and Florida. Fortunately, Haiti was spared from the full force of the winds and the damage caused was much less significant than expected. However, the threat of further cyclones will continue until the end of the season in late November. HI’s team in Haiti fears that the most vulnerable Haitians, currently being supported by the association, are not ready to face another blow.
Preparedness and Resistance
“One of our goals is to help people protect themselves from disasters and to prepare for future ones,” explains Catherine Stubbe, director of Handicap International in Haiti. “We do this mainly by supporting communities to put in place district emergency plans, set up early warning systems and implement family emergency plans.” These procedures are designed to make sure that people with disabilities, sensory impairments, or other vulnerabilities are not forgotten when disaster strikes.
Since 2013, in partnership with the national authorities, HI has coordinated regional disaster risk reduction programs. Catherine explains, “Haiti has suffered from multiple, mass-scale natural disasters over the past decade and each one makes it harder to prepare for the next! Therefore a long-term approach is needed to build resilience.”
HI launched a new project in August 2017, in the north west of the country in order to improve the economic resilience of people dependent on fisheries, livestock, and agriculture. “HI is ready to respond if and when the next disaster strikes. We are also focused on initiatives that will help to break the cycle and provide long-term protection for those most at risk.”
Following Hurricane Matthew:
- 240+ people received rehabilitation care
- 750 people took part in social cohesion sessions
- 180+ people benefited from first aid psychological support
- 1,000 emergency kits, containing tools and household items such as solar-powered lamps, jerry cans, and mosquito nets were distributed in the department of Nippes to more than 4,700 people
- A logistics platform was set up by HI and Atlas Logistique in the cities of Les Cayes and Jérémie
- 108 journeys by road and 14 by sea were made by a fleet of 40 lorries and 10 boats, to transport more than 270 tons of humanitarian aid
- 300 trips by dump trucks to clear 2,871 tons of rubble from roads and drains in Jérémie, Anse d’Hainault, Baumont, and Morron