Two years on from the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010, ActionAid Haiti's response continues, helping the most vulnerable to rebuild their shattered lives.
"We have made significant progress in supporting the most vulnerable Haitians to start to get back on their feet, and we are grateful to the many donors – both the general public and big institutions – who have helped us do this."
Jean-Claude Fignolé, Director of ActionAid Haiti.
But whilst progress has been made, rebuilding a country that had huge socio-economic and political problems even before the earthquake is a massive job, and one that will require a long term commitment from all involved.
On 12 January 2010 Haiti was struck by a massive earthquake, its most powerful for 200 years. Over 220,000 people died and a further 300,000 were left injured. 300,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, leaving 1.5 million people homeless. In the months since the disaster, Haiti has also faced a cholera epidemic and election-related riots.
Two years on from the earthquake, an estimated half a million people are still living in temporary shelters. In January 2011, ActionAid's briefing Building for the Future revealed that Haiti’s reconstruction could cost an additional $50million in emergency replacement tents, unless the Haitian government and international donors – the US, Canada, France, Spain and the EU – address the land problem that has critically hampered the nation’s rebuilding.
What we’ve done
ActionAid was already present in Haiti before January 2010. When the earthquake struck, we were quick to respond, working with local partner organisations and affected communities to provide life-saving support – food, water and plastic sheeting for shelter – to tens of thousands of people in camps in and around Port-au-Prince.
Our international fundraising appeal launched immediately, raising an astonishing $13 million for our three year response to the disaster. The funds have so far enabled us to support over 200,000 people in and around Port-au-Prince, as well as areas further afield, to start rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
- In the first year of our response we supported nearly 140,000 people with vital food packages, hygiene and kitchen kits, and emergency shelter material.
- We distributed 3,500 school kits to the most vulnerable children, to help them continue or get back into education.
- We supported thousands of people through cash-for-work schemes, which pay community members a daily wage for work on projects such as clearing rubble, building terraces to promote soil conservation, and repairing roads and drainage canals. This has helped more than 5,500 families start to get back on their feet.
- Vocational training projects have supported people – particularly young people – to learn a trade – including becoming electricians, plumbers and chefs - and so start earning an income.
- To help build communities’ resilience to future disasters, we have trained people on what to do in the event of an emergency, and how to protect themselves and their property. Our cash for work programmes have also focused on reducing people’s vulnerability to hazards such as drought – for example engaging people in clearing rubble from water run-off channels so that land does not flood during heavy rains.
- To help people deal with the emotional and psychological impact of the earthquake, we provided six centres where people can gather to share their experiences and rediscover hope for the future – a vital step in the recovery process. Watch a film of how 3 year old Cherlandine learnt to smile again.
- By the end of 2011, having expanded our response to new areas, we had reached a total of 200,000 people.
- We are currently building 350 transitional shelters in Gressier (south of Port-au-Prince) to house 2,500 people still living in the camps where we are working.
- We responded to the cholera crisis by distributing hygiene kits containing water purification tablets, soap and other items to serve nearly 70,000 people. And we provided training for local partners and communities on good hygiene and sanitation practices to help reduce the spread of the disease.
In February 2011 we began a campaign on land rights advocacy, working with local people and partner organisations to secure access to land, so those who lost their homes in the earthquake can build permanent housing.
The initiative, called “Je Nan Je” (meaning "Eye to Eye"), focuses on supporting people to gain access to affordable, safe, longer-term housing, women’s access to land and housing, decentralized planning and land reform.
Marking two years since the disaster, 7,500 people will march through the centre of Port au Prince on Wednesday 11 January to demand access to land and adequate housing. The march, organised by the Je nan Je campaign and supported by ActionAid, will present a charter of demands to the Haitian parliament.
“Haitian organisations, the government and the international community now have the perfect opportunity to come together and define the parameters for a structure that is inclusive, collaborative and most importantly accountable,” continued Fignolé.
Advocacy work such as this will continue alongside programme work as a core component of ActionAid’s continuing response into 2013.
ActionAid has been working with local partners and communities in Haiti since 1997, supporting Haitians to find long term solutions to lift themselves out of poverty.
We thank everyone who has helped support our work in Haiti, your money really is making a huge difference.
photo : ©ActionAid