On January 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, killing 230,000 people and injuring more than 300,000 others.
In the wake of the disaster, Humanity & Inclusion ramped up its operations, and mobilized about 600 people who deployed unprecedented levels of resources and assistance.
Humanity & Inclusion's impact, by the numbers:
- 90,000 people with rehabilitation care (click here to watch Crystella's story!)
- 25,000 people with psychosocial support
- 1,400 people with orthopedic braces or artificial limbs (click here to watch a video of Moise!)
- 5,000+ wheelchairs, crutches and walking frames to people with disabilities
- 1,050 shelters for extremely vulnerable families
- 20,000+ tons of aid for people affected by the disaster
Nine years after the earthquake, the Haitian population still requires support. Humanity & Inclusion continues to provide assistance, in particular high quality rehabilitation services, as well as long-term development projects.
"In 2010, when the earthquake hit, there were hardly any rehabilitation services in the country," explains Sibille Buehlmann, Rehabilitation Technical Coordinator for HI in Haiti. "With support from USAID after the earthquake, HI was able to create a training course for rehabilitation technicians. This means more people can access rehabilitation therapy sessions in different settings. HI continues to support health units, making rehabilitation centers accessible to all and providing qualified medical staff."
In August 2015, 72 students received their qualifications, including 22 ortho-prosthetic technicians and 50 rehabilitation technicians. (click here to learn about how James trained to become a technician with HI!)
Today, HI continues to train rehabilitation technicians, improve the skills of physiotherapists, and facilitate access to quality rehabilitation services in hospitals and communities. HI also provides sustainable support (structural and technical) to develop and build the capacities of existing structures, and to sustainably improve the quality of rehabilitation services in three regional hospitals.
The organization supports around 450 people, especially people with disabilities, to help them build their confidence and improve their skills and earn a living to better provide for their families.
HI also teaches Haitians to stay safe on roads, or nearby as pedestrians. HI teams advocate to the authorities and the Haitian society on the importance of preventing road accidents. (click here to watch a video created by the team to teach Haitian children and parents how to stay safe on the roads. In French.)
Finally, in a country where a part of the population lives in isolated and remote areas, where very little relief work has been done, HI works with the most vulnerable and isolated families so that they can prepare for and protect themselves against future natural disasters.
Commitment to emergency response
Alongside its development projects, HI regularly mobilizes its teams when a natural disaster occurs. In particular, the organization came to the assistance of the victims of Hurricane Matthew in September 2016, by providing rehabilitation, emergency response and hygiene kits, a logistics platform to deliver aid goods, and more.
On January 12, 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, just west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, home to nearly a million people. More than a quarter of a million homes, schools, and other buildings collapsed, killing an estimated 230,000 people and injuring many more. Some 4,000 survivors underwent amputations to save their lives.
Humanity and Inclusion's massive emergency response made a considerable impact: 90,000 people received rehabilitation or other health care, 1,400 people received prosthetic limbs and orthopedic fittings, 5,600 wheelchairs, crutches, and other mobility aids were distributed, and 25,000 people received psychological support.
Our emergency response teams are still active in Haiti through a project called the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), which, in partnership with UNICEF, provides earthquake and storm monitoring, alert systems, and emergency responses to the natural disasters which regularly plague the country.
When a new emergency arises, the RRM is capable of mobilizing pre-identified teams to perform immediate assessments and provide a multi-sector response including the distribution of food, water, and other necessities, and the establishment of sanitation, health, educational, and child protection services. The mechanism forms an integral part of the national contingency plan of the Haitian Civil Protection Department.
Rehabilitation Literature Review | Medical rehabilitation of spinal cord injury following earthquakes (2013)
This literature review examined spinal cord injury survivors of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
The effects of an earthquake in an urban area can be devastating. Often much is destroyed, including signiﬁcant materials and human public health infrastructures, communication and transportation networks, as well as medical facilities. There are also vast individual risk factors to be conscious of, including pre-existing disabilities, extremes of age, chronic illness, and lack of mobility.
Proper care and knowledge regarding spinal cord injuries is critical in any emergency response, such as an earthquake; on-scene spinal immobilization, intravenous access and maintenance of cervical alignment are critical. In addition, rapid referral to a multidisciplinary care facility with appropriate rehabilitation services is essential.
Download the report:
On January 12, 2010 an earthquake of Richter magnitude 7.0 occurred off the coast of Haiti and near to its capital of Port au Prince. The number of injured estimated at perhaps 300,000, with 4,000 amputations reported. The nature and scale of the international response was documented and Haiti was overwhelmed and unable to control or contain the flow of this aid.
The disaster response environment in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake represented a complex healthcare challenge. This study was designed to identify challenges during the Haiti disaster response through qualitative and quantitative study of injured patients. It was carried out six months after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti to review the surgical inputs of foreign medical teams.
This study showed that challenges for emergency medical response during the Haiti Earthquake involved issues of accountability, professional ethics, standards of care, unmet needs, patient agency, and expected outcomes for patients in such settings.
Download the Report:
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.Read more
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.”Read more
Silver Spring, MD—After causing devastating damage on several Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, St Martin and Barbuda, Hurricane Irma is lashing Haiti’s northern coast. Handicap International is extremely concerned for the welfare of the most vulnerable Haitians, who are particularly exposed during large-scale natural disasters.
“For these people, the situation gets worse with each new disaster,” says Catherine Stubbe, director of Handicap International in Haiti, and currently in Port-au-Prince. “Barely have they recovered from one disaster then the next occurs, leaving them slightly more vulnerable than before.”
Initial warning signs suggest the possibility of a major disaster. The information our local teams have suggests that the means already in place in the country would fall far short of what is needed to help the disaster’s victims.
Northern Haiti lacks natural obstacles, especially trees, which usually provide a buffer against heavy rainfall, suggesting that this part of the island will experience severe flooding. Lastly, a lot of people live in isolated areas without easy access to information or are unable to take shelter. Of these people, Handicap International is particularly worried about the most vulnerable individuals—people with disabilities, isolated women and older people living in difficult-to-access areas. It’s expected that emergency services will be unable to reach these areas in the days immediately after the hurricane.
Strong winds accompanied by heavy rain could destroy families’ makeshift homes and livelihoods (plantations and cattle), leaving these Haitians entirely dependent on humanitarian aid for months.
Handicap International’s teams are preparing to travel to the north of Haiti as soon as the alert is lifted, to assess the situation in conjunction with other humanitarian aid organizations and the Haitian authorities.
The organization’s logistics experts may also launch a support operation to supply humanitarian aid to the affected areas, by organizing the storage and transport of humanitarian goods to hurricane victims.
Present in the country since 2008, Handicap International has launched numerous emergency responses in recent years, including actions after Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and the 2010 earthquake. With 30 staff members in the country, Handicap International implements natural disaster risk reduction projects in association with the Civil Protection Department in several of the country’s departments.
About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 35 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. Offices in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States work constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997; and the winner of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2011. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.
After devastating several Caribbean islands, Hurricane Irma is moving toward Haiti’s northern coastline. People living in this disaster-prone country with frail infrastructure and ill-equipped emergency services are preparing for the worst. Since 2013, our teams have been helping isolated and vulnerable individuals protect themselves in natural disasters like Irma through our disaster risk reduction project.Read more
Category 5 Hurricane Irma, the longest-lasting, top-intensity hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, began its northern pass of Haiti today, September 7. Handicap International is mobilizing its teams to intervene as soon as it's safe to support people affected by the storm's high winds and rain. Our team, based in Port-au-Prince, is already in touch with Haitian authorities, and is preparing to go to the affected areas as soon as it's safe to conduct the first evaluations with its Haitian partners.