Americas / Haiti

October 31, 2016

Haiti: Relief efforts step up following hurricane

Malteser International’s aid efforts continue in stricken Haiti, three weeks on from Hurricane Matthew’s devastating landfall. The organization distributed tools and equipment, and helped to clear streets and drainage channels in some of the most heavily affected areas in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. The floodwaters have mostly receded, but conditions in the country remain appalling, and the risk of a cholera epidemic is still high.

Following a successful campaign to inform locals of ways to reduce the risk of cholera, Malteser International staff are now distributing hygiene kits including feminine hygiene material to around 1,200 families. A major campaign to clear canals blocked by debris from the hurricane – which create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and disease – is scheduled to begin in the coming days and will involve almost 200 workers.

“The destruction here is appalling,” said Jacques Larroude, Malteser International’s Emergency Response Coordinator in Haiti. “The hurricane has left around 1.25 million people in need of clean drinking water. A severe cholera outbreak or an epidemic right now would be completely devastating here, so helping to prevent this from happening is among our top priorities.”

Hurricane Matthew is also thought to have left the food supply of around 800,000 people at serious risk. Up to 90% of some crops have been reported destroyed in the Belle-Anse Region in the South East of Haiti, one of Malteser International’s major project areas. Fishing is a vital source of food and income for members of the vulnerable and impoverished coastal community, but more than half of the area’s fishing gear has been destroyed or severely damaged. “We keep meeting people whose crops, houses, and livelihoods have been completely wiped out at a stroke,” said Larroude. “Our next consideration is how we can give these people the assistance that they need to start rebuilding their lives.” Malteser International is already mobilizing aid to help more than 150 fishing families in Belle-Anse to resume their livelihoods so that they can begin to feed themselves and their communities once again.

Malteser International has been working in Haiti since the country was struck by a devastating earthquake in 2010. In that time, it has built up close connections and partnerships with local people and civil society organizations in Belle-Anse and Port-au-Prince. Malteser International projects have included measures to increase local communities’ resilience to disasters and climate change, improve the supply of clean drinking water, and boost the livelihood of families relying on the land for their food and income.

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