The January 2010 earthquake dealt a tragic blow to a country already suffering from poverty.
In the years since the earthquake, Haiti has continued to suffer from natural disasters and political upheaval. A country ranked amongst the most affected by natural disasters, Haiti regularly deals with devastating droughts, floods and hurricanes. Category 4 Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 caused devastation to the south of the country just one harvest cycle after a three-year drought.
With natural disasters coming one right after another, many families are still struggling to rebuild and have no means to support themselves.
- Haiti is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, with more than 90 percent of the population at risk.
- Haiti is the poorest country in the northern hemisphere. About six in 10 people are living in poverty.
- 2.7 million people urgently need humanitarian assistance, including 1.5 million who are at risk of hunger.
In spite of daily challenges to access basic needs like water and electricity, Haitians are strong, motivated and creative. And with a new government in place, there is opportunity for the country to re-focus on policies and programs that can address some of the fundamental human needs and capitalize on the Haitian spirit.
Mercy Corps’ approach to humanitarian response not only includes meeting urgent needs after emergencies, but also building capacity to withstand future disasters and minimizing risk to homes and communities. Key activities have included:
- Disaster preparedness: Training local governments and civil society organizations to better identify risk and manage emergency response needs
- Emergency response: Provided shelter repair kits, cash assistance and restoration of access to water supplies
- Agriculture & Food: Supplying farmer associations with seeds and silos to support restoration of agriculture after natural disasters and establishment of seed banks as insurance against future droughts or hurricanes
Mercy Corps also focuses on building resilience in vulnerable communities. In particular, Mercy Corps has been implementing activities in the following areas:
- Economic opportunity: Increasing incomes for vulnerable families and young people by helping them start businesses, get vocational training, access savings and loan associations, and connect with larger markets for their products
- Young people: Helping young people living in urban areas to improve their self-esteem, set personal goals and build employment and entrepreneurship skills and contribute to the reduction of violence and conflict in their neighborhoods
- Environment & food security: Improving the long-term income generation potential of land by creating incentives for people to practice crop diversification, land rehabilitation and conservation
provided shelter assistance to more than 1,500 families
provided cash assistance to more than 20,000 households
increased access to water for more than 3,000 households
placed 271 young people in vocational training centers
distributed seeds to 2,500 households
trained 100 farmers to teach others conservation techniques
Haiti: Isaac update: Safety nets working in storm's wake
As we've watched what became Hurricane Isaac batter the U.S. Gulf coast, the importance of a strengthened infrastructure and emergency plan is incredibly clear.
Haiti: Assessing needs in Isaac's wake
Tropical Storm Isaac hit Haiti early Saturday with torrential rains and high winds. Mercy Corps is assessing humanitarian needs in St. Marc and Arcahaie as a result of the storm, and coordinating with other agencies and local authorities on a possible response.
Haiti: Bringing trees back to the mountains
Farmer Selina Marie (right) carries tree saplings to plant throughout her farm, high in the mountainous community of Sibase.
Haiti: Farmers digging deep to repair the land
Haiti is a land stripped bare.
Haiti: Tuning into youth
We may not be the Sesame Street Workshop, but here in Haiti, the Mercy Corps team has been busy producing a locally-made educational television program for kids.
Haiti: Youth celebrate Soccer for Life
A few kids take it easy during Mercy Corps' Foutbol pou Lavi ("Soccer for Life") activities, which started last December.
Haiti: Female entrepreneurs bounce back
Haiti is a land of micro-entrepreneurs. In every town, on every street, shopkeepers, traders and craftsmen are working hard to provide their communities with the essential goods and services of daily life — and in so doing, lift their own families from poverty.
Haiti: Youthful views: National Geographic photo camp
For six days last month, 18 Haitian youth came together for a Mercy Corps and National Geographic photo camp in Port-au-Prince.
Haiti: Protecting small business owners in Haiti
Haiti: Two years later: What we've accomplished
We've reached more than 1.1 million people in Haiti since the earthquake on January 12, 2010. The people of Haiti never gave up and neither did we.