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Seven years after the earthquake in Haiti, Handicap International continues to improve rehabilitation services


On 12 January 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake which killed 230,000 people and injured over 300,000. Handicap International took action immediately after the disaster to provide assistance to the victims. Seven years later, the organization is still working the country to ensure Haitians have access to rehabilitation services. 

A man with hemiplegia receiving rehabilitation care from a Handicap International physical therapist, Haiti.

A man with hemiplegia receiving rehabilitation care from a Handicap International physical therapist, Haiti. | © Benoit Almeiras/Handicap International

"Seven years after the earthquake the country is slowly getting back on its feet. The population is still marked by the after-effects of the disaster."

"Against a backdrop of political unrest, over 46,000 people[1] affected by the crisis are still living in 31 displaced persons’ camps made up of tents or temporary shelters. Hurricane Matthew which hit the country on 4 October further weakened an already vulnerable population," says Catherine Stubbe, Handicap International Director in Haiti.

Immediate relief

In the wake of the 2010 earthquake, Handicap International mobilized up to 600 people and deployed unprecedented resources to assist the people affected by the disaster. The organization provided 90,000 people with rehabilitation care, 1,400 people with orthopedic fitting[2] and 25,000 people with psychosocial support.

Sustainable projects

Seven years after the earthquake, Handicap International continues to support the Haitian population by developing long-term projects.

  • Given the lack of local skills in rehabilitation, the organization set up the first training course for rehabilitation technicians. In August 2015, 72 students received their qualifications[3]. Today, Handicap International continues to train rehabilitation technicians, to improve the skills of professionals already working in the sector without official training, to facilitate access to high quality rehabilitation services and to provide support[4] to health services.
  • Handicap International is also working to improve protection for abandoned children living with foster families or in children's homes[5].
  • The organization supports over 200 people, in particular people with disabilities, to help them develop an economic activity, earn a living and provide for their families.
  • We also work with local economic development stakeholders[6] to ensure they take people with disabilities into account in their work.
  • Finally, Handicap International raises the population's awareness of road safety and trains public transport drivers in safe driving behaviors.

Hurricane Matthew emergency response

Alongside its development projects in Haiti, Handicap International also mobilizes its teams each time there is a new emergency. In October 2016, the organization assisted the victims of Hurricane Matthew (4th October) which affected more than 2 million people when it hit Haiti.

The organization implemented rehabilitation care, distributed wheelchairs, walking frames and crutches and organized the distribution of emergency kits[7], hygiene kits and essential household items.  It also set up a logistics platform to facilitate the delivery of aid by sea or road to populations living in difficult to access areas.

Finally, Handicap International identified the most vulnerable members of the population - isolated heads of households, pregnant women, older people and people with disabilities and supported humanitarian organizations to ensure these groups were able to access humanitarian services (health services, education, rehabilitation etc.).

[1]According to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (Inter-Agency Standing Committee)

[2] By providing them with orthoses and prostheses.

[3] 22 orthoprosthetic technicians and 50 rehabilitation technicians

[4] Sustainable support (structural and technical) to develop and build the capacities of existing structures, and sustainably improve the quality of rehabilitation services in 5 departmental hospitals and 3 rehabilitation centers.

[5] This work focuses on supporting the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment to strengthen its child protection mechanisms.

[6] A civil society organization providing personalized social support to the beneficiaries of micro projects, a professional training center, a social micro-finance institution and the public sector.

[7] Toolbox, ropes, tarpaulins.

Date published: 01/11/17


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