Report on Hurricane Matthew: Supporting Local, Haitian-Led Relief
On October 5, Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Haiti, tearing a devastating path through the country. In the days following the torrential storm, the death toll quickly rose to above 1,000.
I was traveling in Mexico with GFC’s regional program director, Sandra Macías del Villar, when the storm hit. Despite a demanding travel schedule, Sandra was in constant email contact with GFC’s Haiti partners well into the night, inquiring about their welfare and their needs.
Many hurricane survivors are suffering. Families have been displaced from their homes; children have lost parents; parents have lost livelihoods; schools have been destroyed. Water and sanitation conditions continue to deteriorate, and the health system is on alert for a cholera epidemic.
These residual effects of the hurricane will not be resolved with quick relief fixes. Indeed, community resilience, as GFC has always known, will be a long-term process, and much of it will be facilitated though community organizations—trusted community resources that are often the first responders in an emergency.
Six years after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was just beginning to see some sustained development, albeit with continued challenges of poverty and politics. At the time of the 2010 earthquake, GFC invested in a long-term response to find, fund, and strengthen community organizations. At present, we have five active grassroots partners in the country.
We are pleased to say that while our partners have each suffered some damage to facilities and materials, they are also already mobilized and able to provide immediate support and relief to their communities:
● SAKALA, in Port-au-Prince, set up emergency shelters and is now distributing food, medical supplies, and emergency items such as candles and batteries.
● Organisation Haitienne pour le Developpement Durable (OHDD) works in a semi-urban community that was badly hit. The director reports that many schools were destroyed, as well as houses and plantations. Food security is a concern, as the hurricane impacted subsistence farmers in the community (many of whom send their kids to OHDD’s school). The organization is distributing health kits and is working on cholera prevention.
● Association Zanmi Timoun reports great problems with flooding and housing. The organization is ensuring that potable water, food, and health kits are available and is also serving as a distribution point for tents and supplies.
● Asanblè Vwazen Solino notes problems from flooding and reports that students do not have access to potable water. The organization is working on cholera prevention.
● Pazapa is located in the badly hit coastal town of Jacmel, where the organization runs a school and provides outreach services to disabled children. Our communication with Pazapa has been limited, but we know that the organization has great needs and is an important community resource in a severely damaged area.
We have mobilized immediate emergency grant funding, and we are in contact with our partners to ensure rapid-response grants can quickly be dispatched.
We are fortunate to have—thanks to GFC supporters—a small emergency fund that we mobilize for just such purposes. This fund will need to be replenished for future emergencies. To help GFC act quickly and support children in times of crisis, please donate today.
As we continue to monitor the situation and respond in solidarity with Haitian organizations, we hold the children of Haiti in our hearts and minds.