Haiti, a country prone to natural disasters, is expecting to face serious problems accessing the areas most impacted by Hurricane Irma. The Category 5 storm is expected to pass over the northern coast of Haiti later today. However, accompanying strong winds and heavy rainfall could have disastrous consequences for the region’s inhabitants and make it difficult for transporting essential supplies.
The town of Cap Haïtien, the largest population center in the north of the island, is home to more than 300,000 people, many of whom live in shanty towns. “Most homes are poorly built, and some are made from corrugated iron, wood, and mud, so Irma is likely to leave many families without a roof over their heads,” explains Patrick Kelders, head of Handicap International’s actions in Haiti. “And probably without livelihoods.”
“But the main problem we’re likely to face once the alert has lifted is being able to access regions affected by the hurricane due to blocked roads and fallen trees. The HI team is already on standby, ready to travel to the northern part of the island as soon as possible, but we could be faced with a major logistical challenge – the transport of humanitarian aid,” adds Kelders.
“This may require us to set up a logistics platform, as we did in 2016, after Hurricane Matthew, with storage depots and a fleet of trucks to transport humanitarian aid to disaster victims. Handicap International is working with other organizations in Haiti and the authorities to prepare this response.
“One of our main goals will continue to be the sustainability of our current activities on the island and the implementation of a new resilience support project for communities in the northwest (disaster risk reduction) in conjunction with the authorities; we are also preparing to launch an exploratory mission to gauge the scale of needs on this part of the island.”
HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL IN HAITI
Present in Haiti since 2008, Handicap International intervened following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and during the 2010 earthquake by providing rehabilitation, logistics support, basic needs (shelter, cooking kits, etc.), psychosocial support, and other specific needs for people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.