Six months after the earthquake brought devastation to Haiti, many international charities last week published reports and press releases to summarise their work over the half-year and discuss the future needs of the country.
The International Medical Corps has set up 15 mobile and static clinics, offering primary and mental health care services to Haitians living around Port-au-Prince, Petit Goave, Leogane and Jacmel. For the longer term, the charity is training local people and volunteers to help staff the clinics and provide psychological and psychiatric assistance.
Complementing this work, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) released statistics of their emergency response medical work over the last six months, where more than 173,000 people were treated and over 11,000 operations performed. The charity continues to support more than 81,000 people in overcoming psychological trauma and is committed to help in the task of building a better health care system in the future.
An integral part of ensuring the Haitians long-term health is the provision of safe sanitation and this is the focus of the Red Cross report, entitled ‘From sustaining lives to sustainable solutions: the challenge of sanitation in Haiti’. Even before the earthquake, only 17 per cent of Haitians had access to a toilet. Since the disaster, many are relying on sanitation facilities and the provision of clean water by the charities. The Red Cross and Red Crescent are currently transporting 2.4 million litres of water to 94 sites across Port-au-Prince every day, to supply almost 600,000 people. The challenge for the future is to set up water and sanitation infrastructure, so that the humanitarian agencies can focus on other work.
In its report, ActionAid called for the process of reconstruction to involve the Haitians themselves, though the charity conceded that issues like land ownership and rights, where documents have been lost or destroyed, are hindering rebuilding. The charity is therefore working to identify land where transitional housing can be built. ACT Alliance also urges the Government of Haiti to take a lead in the recovery and reconstruction of the country. Bypassing top level politics, some charities report on their work at a local level to help ordinary Haitians rebuild their lives. World Concern focuses on improving employment among local people. Since the earthquake, it has employed over 2,000 people to help clear rubble and repair homes. And for the future, the charity is funding grants to help people restart their businesses and replace equipment damaged or lost in the quake.
SOS Children’s Villages have also been providing employment in their communities by taking on 125 locals as cooks, carers, psychologists, social workers, teachers and translators to help care for the 300 children left without families by the earthquake. Following the emergency work of distributing food, water and medicine, SOS Children have been focusing on providing these workers with temporary housing, as well as offering education and psychological support to the orphans of the earthquake, who join the 550 children already in the care of SOS Children’s Villages. For more detail on this work, please see the Haiti update on the ‘Charity News’ page.