What cash-for-work has (and hasn't) done for Haiti

Haiti, December 6, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Participants in Mercy Corps' cash-for-work program at the Impasse Corail tent camp. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps

Since an earthquake devastated Haiti in mid-January, Mercy Corps Haiti has used the cash-for-work approach to employ 28,100 people in Port-au-Prince's tent camps and in rural communities of the Central Plateau. These hard-working survivors have earned a living wage while pitching in to help clear debris-choked streets, improve camp conditions and build basic infrastructure. In our 30 years of experience working in post-disaster and conflict settings, we've used cash-for-work to assist survivors in helping their own communities recover, providing them with cash wages that allow them to prioritize their own emergency needs and also support the recovery of local markets.

A survey of 8,700 cash-for-work households revealed that participants spent their money on the following items:

  • Food (32%)
  • Water (20%)
  • Cooking fuel (29%)
  • Health supplies (3%)
  • Education (5%)

And so, while cash-for-work has helped Haitian families begin to recover, it hasn't (and can't) do all things for everyone. Today, almost 11 months after the earthquake, we're finding out more about what Haiti's families and communities need to rebuild their long-wrecked local economies and move forward. Here's a longer article that I just posted that explores the complex realities of helping Haiti heal: Assessing Mercy Corps' cash-for-work program in Haiti.

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