Walls broke, wills did not: an update from Haiti

By: Minaz Kerawala, Communications and Public Relations Advisor.

Soon after the earthquake struck, ITECA’s trucks were delivering relief supplies to affected communities.

Hours after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook Haiti on August 14, 2021, Development and Peace — Caritas Canada’s partners were rendering emergency aid to the victims. Anticipating the immensity of their need for support, we asked our members and supporters to pitch in.

Your response was brisk and bounteous. You have given over $380,000 on our website and on the Canada Helps platform!

Thank you for your solidarity with the people of Haiti. Your donations are helping alleviate a very bad situation.

Massive destruction, major needs

Haiti’s Civil Protection Directorate reports (available in French only) that the quake has claimed over 2,200 lives, injured more than 12,250 people and destroyed or damaged nearly 130,000 houses. UNICEF also notes that scores of water supply and healthcare facilities and hundreds of schools have been damaged.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that about 800,000 people need vital relief assistance and that there is a heightened risk of another wave of COVID-19 infections. This has prompted the UN to issue an emergency appeal for US $187.3 million.

These numbing numbers measure neither the misery nor the mettle of the people. Prominent Haitian activist and long-time Development and Peace ally Colette Lespinasse wrote that “the people are suffering and desperate for help.” She added, “Despite the palpable pain on people’s faces, I noticed that life is gradually returning to normal.”

It is in returning to normal that our partners are providing vital assistance to the Haitian people and government.

Water, shelter and coordination

The Institut de Technologie et d’Animation (ITECA) is providing immediate assistance to 2,000 families in four of the worst-affected communes—Cayes, Cavaillon, Maniche and Saint-Louis-du-Sud. Five-gallon water jars and water purification tablets are being distributed to households that have lost access to potable water.

Responding to locally identified needs, ITECA is also helping the authorities provide emergency shelter by securing and supplying materials such as wooden slats and tarpaulins and redirecting its contingency stock of tools.

ITECA staff, who are helping the Haitian government coordinate relief efforts, showed United Nations officials around in the field on August 24.

Perhaps more importantly, ITECA is also deploying its extensive expertise, deep local knowledge and reputational advantages in helping the authorities and other relief agencies identify needs; reach affected people and areas; manage logistics; and coordinate activities.

Food, health and hygiene

Caritas Haiti is focussing on meeting the nutritional and health needs of some 10,000 people in 1,400 families in the Dioceses of Cayes, Jérémie and Anse-à-Veau/Miragoane. Special efforts will be made to target single-parent and female-led families and households with young children, seniors and/or persons with reduced mobility.

Each family will receive a month’s rations including locally sourced rice, cornmeal, black beans, spaghetti, oil, sugar and iodized salt. Families will also be provided hygiene kits comprising a bucket, toilet paper, diapers, sanitary napkins, toothpaste, toothbrushes, a comb, a hairbrush, soap and detergent.

To help meet people’s basic healthcare needs, Caritas Haiti will also furnish local clinics with 9,800 reusable masks and 15 medication kits, each including antiulcer, blood pressure, diabetes, anti-influenza, anti-anaemia, antiparasitic, antibiotic and analgesic drugs and multivitamins.

Caritas Haiti is providing medications to clinics and dispensaries in three quake-hit dioceses.

Enduring solutions need sustained support

Vital as this work is to the very survival of many, our partners will have to eventually pivot to looking after longer-term concerns like reconstruction, the resumption of agriculture and other economic activities and meeting communities’ educational and psychosocial needs.

They are exceptionally well-placed to do this because they have a proven track record; because they are trusted, informed and supported by their communities; and because they can rely on the sustained backing of the Development and Peace family.

It was because they were built on this triply-reinforced bedrock that, barring a few instances of minor damage, all 25 houses that ITECA had built after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 were found to have survived last month’s earthquake.

to help our partners offer longer-term support to earthquake-hit communities in Haiti.