After a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Aug. 14, 2021, Humanity & Inclusion launched an emergency response. One year later, teams continue to assist thousands of survivors as needs persist.
The earthquake that hit the southern part of the island country affected 800,000 people. At least 2,200 people were killed and more than 650,000 were left in need of humanitarian assistance. Health centers, schools and homes were badly damaged.
Emergency deployment of physical rehabilitation services
Nearly 12,700 people were injured. Many had broken bones or open wounds, and some required limb amputations.
"Haiti’s health system is not robust enough to deal with this kind of crisis,” explains Pierre-Marie Wagon, Humanity & Inclusion’s regional manager for the emergency response in Haiti. “Many survivors don’t have access to health services for financial reasons or because of the distance or their personal beliefs. Delays in receiving care at the time of the earthquake may have made people’s injuries worse and created a risk of permanent disability.”
Within days of the earthquake, Humanity & Inclusion was providing physical rehabilitation services in support of two hospitals, a rehabilitation center in Les Cayes and a hospital in Camp Perrin. These services were then extended to Aquin. Between August 2021 and May 2022, over 8,400 rehabilitation sessions were delivered by Humanity & Inclusion teams to 1,300 patients.
Humanity & Inclusion distributed nearly 120 mobility aids—including crutches, wheelchairs and walkers—directly to people in need. Mobile units were also deployed to deliver rehabilitation care to the most isolated populations in partnership with a local association, FONTEN. These mobile units reached more than 2,300 people.
Mireille, 51, is among the thousands of people who have been supported by Humanity & Inclusion. Two of her children were killed in the earthquake, which also destroyed her family’s home. Mireille was seriously injured, and doctors had to amputate her right leg.
"I was given a prosthesis, and now I go to the rehabilitation center two or three times a week,” says Mireille, who lives in Piko. “These sessions really help.”
Mireille has participated in 17 rehabilitation sessions, and sees each one as a small victory on her path to regaining her independence so she can better support her family.
“I still remember the first time I was able to stand on my own again,” Mireille continues. “The doctors and physical therapists helped me a lot and gave me all the information I needed. Without them, I would have been disabled for life. Now I am getting stronger and soon I’ll be able to go back to work and take care of my family again."
To help develop the capacities of local health centers and strengthen their human resources, Humanity & Inclusion provided equipment and administrative support, as well as training on early rehabilitation and the use certain medical devices. The organization also provided financial support to help the centers to adequately pay health professionals.
Providing essential psychosocial support
The trauma caused by the earthquake affected many people's mental health. To meet their needs, Humanity & Inclusion put in place a mental health support project. Between August 2021 and May 2022, almost 1,000 individual psychosocial support sessions were organized for 150 people.
"The shock of the earthquake and its consequences have been devastating for the population," explains Marie Tellange Lestin, community mobilizer at Humanity & Inclusion. "And many also have to cope with poverty. It was already a big problem before the disaster, but it has gotten worse since. Meeting daily needs can be extremely stressful. Communities need comprehensive support, both for their physical and mental health.”
Humanity & Inclusion organized community activities—including discussion groups, games and art workshops—to help communities cope with their trauma. Between December 2021 and May 2022, more than 4,300 people attended mental health awareness sessions. Humanity & Inclusion also led more than 50 awareness-raising sessions in schools, reaching over 900 children.
Enabling access to affected areas
The earthquake triggered rockfalls and landslides that blocked roads and prevented access to many villages in the south. Humanitarian aid workers could not deliver critical supplies and services. For months after the earthquake, Humanity & Inclusion carried out clearance operations in Les Anglais and Les Chardonnières. More than 317,000 cubic feet of earth and debris were removed so that roads could be reopened, restoring access to several villages and a market. Humanity & Inclusion recruited 340 residents, including people with disabilities, to complete the work in exchange for daily wages.
Between August 2021 and May 2022, Humanity & Inclusion also delivered nearly 1,150 tons of humanitarian supplies to hard-to-reach areas using its boat transport system. Launched before the earthquake, this proved to be an essential way to reach areas cut off due to road conditions and security problems. More than 130 boat transport operations were carried out, and Humanity & Inclusion also trained the boat crews of a local partner.
Meeting essential needs
Almost 140,000 houses were destroyed or damaged in the earthquake, leaving many without a place to live or access to electricity or clean drinking water.
Humanity & Inclusion distributed 1,500 hygiene kits to the households of people with disabilities. These kits included soap, towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste and laundry detergent. While distributing the kits, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams also promoted good hygiene practices during awareness sessions, explaining how to use the kits and how to reduce the risk of transmission of waterborne diseases. More than 9,000 people benefitted from the distributions and awareness-raising sessions, which ended in December 2021.
Humanity & Inclusion worked alongside Haitian organizations run by and for people with disabilities to implement its activities and identify the households with the greatest needs. These partnerships ensured that all emergency response activities were accessible and took into account the specific needs of people with disabilities.
- More than 8,400 physical rehabilitation sessions for 1,050 patients
- More than 1,060 psychosocial support sessions reached 150 people
- 1,400 people assisted by Humanity & Inclusion’s health project
- More than 170 community activities organized for more than 4,300 people, including 50 awareness-raising sessions in schools.
- More than 2,300 people received mobile clinic services
- 1,500 hygiene kits distributed to 1,500 households
- 9,088 people assisted directly or indirectly by distribution of hygiene kits and accompanying awareness sessions
- 1,143 tons of humanitarian goods delivered via 132 boat transports.
- 317,000 cubic feet of rubble cleared from roads to enable access
- 119 mobility aids distributed directly to patients