What has your charity done in Haiti?
Emergency Response: Shortly after the quake, ActionAid initiated distributions of food packages containing rice, fish, maize, flour, sugar, cooking oil, corn flakes, beans, salt, spices, and energy bars. Over the past year, around 9,137 families (over 54,822 people) have received these rations. We also distributed hygiene kits (containing sanitary pads for women, soap, tooth brush, tooth paste, comb, body lotion, razor, diapers, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, 2 plastic cups, 2 t-shirts, toilet paper, laundry soap, and a bath towel), and kitchen kits, reaching a total number of 9,516 families (over 57,096 people). In late March, ActionAid Haiti donated 24,000 linen diapers, diaper pins and baby food spoons to the “Petits Freres et Soeurs” hospital. 3,000 more hygiene, kitchen and household kits have been positioned in our warehouse in Port au Prince for potential future need.
Shelter: In the first few months following the earthquake, ActionAid provided tarpaulin sheeting to over 11,000 families living in camps. We also provided tents for 30 of the most vulnerable families in Philippeau.
Education: 1500 school kits (1 back pack, 1 geometry kit, 1 ruler, 1 pen, 1 pencil, 1 eraser, 1 sharpener, and 4 notebooks) were distributed in Grand-Anse, 500 in Roseaux, 500 in Corail and 500 in Abricots.
Livelihood: In Philippeau, 526 community members participated in an ActionAid cash-for-work project. In Mariani camps, another 2,910 community members have participated in similar activities. Meanwhile the earthquake has provoked a massive migration from Port-au-Prince to the rural areas of Haiti. In an effort to address the ensuing food shortage, ActionAid Haiti supported KPGA in distributing seeds to internally displaced farmers. To date, a total of 1,100 internally displaced farmers, host families, and members of community-based organizations have received bean and corn seeds for planting. ActionAid Haiti also provided 6 grinding mills for the community of Roseaux. This will help more than 2,400 people in processing their corn crops for sale at the local market.
Psychosocial support: Psychosocial activities with children aged from 1 to 14 mainly consisted of playing, basic education, singing, dancing and sharing their experience of the disaster. For young adults (aged 15 to 18) and adults the psychosocial centers were spaces to share experiences and release stress, but also to learn skills that can help them generate income in the future. To date our psychosocial care and support work has helped over 27,000 people.
Cholera Response: ActionAid Haiti’s response to the cholera crisis includes both distribution of hygiene kits to prevent cholera and training for local partners on hygiene and sanitation sensitization messaging. Our partners are carrying out these messaging campaigns directly to our camp communities and other communities where ActionAid has a presence. In addition to the messaging campaign, ActionAid Haiti and its partners are in the process of distributing hygiene kits to prevent cholera in our development areas and camp communities. The kits include water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts, chlorine bleach, hand sanitizer, bars of soap, Oral Serum solution, and buckets. We plan to distribute 10,000 cholera kits for families in total. By early December, 2,000 kits had been distributed.
What are the outcomes (immediate results) of your efforts in Haiti?
People’s lives were improved during the immediate aftermath of the storm as they received food and hygiene kits for basic survival. In the longer term, ActionAid is rebuilding Haitian society at large through construction of schools, cash-for-work projects, training in cholera and disaster prevention, and even provision of agricultural processing equipment. In all, ActionAid’s work since the earthquake has positively impacted the lives of over 160,000 Haitians.
Based on your outcomes thus far, has your charity adjusted its course of action to improve the results?
From the earliest phases of the emergency, ActionAid’s focus has been on the medium- and long-term impacts and responses. As a result, our attention turned fairly quickly from immediate direct service to efforts to strengthen the capacity of Haitian civil society organizations to participate in the reconstruction debate and access the funding that has been generated. Due to ongoing bureaucratic and structural obstacles, this work includes both training for local partners as well as advocacy with the government and other funding institutions to open the reconstruction process to Haitians.
Is your charity planning to continue to provide assistance to Haiti in the coming months and years? If so, please explain your plans.
From the very beginning, ActionAid has stressed that our response to the Haitian earthquake would play out over three years. Our second email appeal, within 48 hours of the quake, informed donors that: “ActionAid responded within hours of the earthquake hitting. Our international emergencies team mobilized immediately and experienced members should reach our local staff in the next few hours. They will support our Haiti staff in accessing and distributing emergency supplies and performing short- and medium-term needs assessment with our partners and the authorities. But we are not stopping there. ActionAid is already planning for recovery and reconstruction. Once the initial emergency has passed, and all the news crews have left, we will stay and help the poor rebuild their homes and livelihoods.” Expenditure to date of some 40% of funds received is consistent with this timetable. Our remaining funds will be focused on addressing shelter and education needs for our earthquake-affected partners in Port-au-Prince, as well as resettlement support and food security investments for rural communities experiencing an influx of Haitians displaced from the capital.
What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges facing the people of Haiti in the years to come? Do you have suggestions for how to address these challenges both via your own organization and through the efforts of others?
As evidenced by the response to the recent elections, the biggest challenge will involve building a Haitian political system that is stable and trusted enough to take on the challenge of administering the relief effort that is still clearly driven by international institutions. This re-establishment of the Haitian state will require that ongoing reconstruction efforts include Haitian government officials and civil society representatives in decision-making roles. Our organization and other NGOs and official donors must be committed to this transition in word and deed.
Have you been able to coordinate and pool your efforts with other organizations?
Yes. ActionAid Haiti’s Country Director, Jean Claude Fignolé, is a part of a forum of non-governmental organizations working in Haiti, made up of Country Director from nine NGOs. At the same time, ActionAid is working to support a coalition of Haitian organizations that is pushing for greater voice and participation in the reconstruction process.