One month after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake affected 690,000 people in southwest Haiti, humanitarian needs in the country remain immense. The natural disaster wreaked havoc on the Grand’Anse, South and Nippes districts, causing over 2,200 deaths and putting 650,000 people in need of vital support.
“Day after day at the rehabilitation center, patients are multiplying,” says Guetchly-Nise, a physical therapist recruited by Humanity & Inclusion and its partner FONTEN in Les Cayes.
The violent collapse of buildings and infrastructure injured more than 12,000 people, many of whom will require ongoing rehabilitation services to prevent long-term consequences or permanent disabilities. With roads blocked and hospitals facing a surge of patients on top of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many people injured in the quake were unable to access care in a timely manner. This has led to infections and worsening conditions for already severe injuries.
Over 1,600 people with disabilities have already been identified in the affected regions, the majority of which are women, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The disaster puts people with existing disabilities at higher risk, as it has become more difficult to move around or seek necessary care.
Housing and food insecurity
Tens of thousands are without shelter after more than 83,000 homes were damaged and 54,000 were completely destroyed. Schools and hospitals have also been closed due to damage and destruction, while the rising price of basic goods and a recent fuel shortage add to the fragility of the situation. Many are unable to afford essentials such as medication, diapers or food as they cannot continue their livelihoods or earn any wages.
OCHA recently estimated that approximately 980,000 people in the Grand-Sud would experience acute levels of food insecurity by February 2022, including 320,000 people in urgent need of nutrition.
Emergency response continues
Since the earthquake, Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency intervention team has been in Haiti, actively responding to the disaster. So far, the team has:
- Performed assessments in Les Cayes, Jeremie and Nippes to identify health and logistics needs
- Recruited and trained 7 physical therapists in Les Cayes to reinforce rehabilitation care in two hospitals and one rehabilitation center, in partnership with FONTEN
- Provided rehabilitation services to 515 people, including children and adults, some of whom have disabilities
- Distributed mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walkers and crutches to nearly 100 people
- Organized and coordinated the shipping of humanitarian goods such as hygiene kits and rehabilitation materials to the affected regions via its maritime transport project
In the next steps of the intervention, Humanity & Inclusion is planning to distribute 1,500 hygiene kits and clear rubble and debris blocking access to those in need. The distribution should be inclusive, accessible and will specifically target people with disabilities or physical vulnerabilities. Humanity & Inclusion will continue to coordinate shipments of humanitarian goods via the maritime project, provide rehabilitation services to those injured by the earthquake and evaluate evolving needs.