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: Mobile banking customer in Saint-Marc, Haiti
One of the storeowners in Saint-Marc, Haiti, supported by Mercy Corps' Mobile Money program.
Haiti: Mobile wallets help Haitians rebuild
Families needed food. Small vendors and local economies needed cash. And it turns out the solution to this Catch-22 was right in the hands — or the pockets — of most Haitians.
Haiti: After the earthquake, focusing on rural areas
The earthquake of January 12, 2010, may prove to be a crossroad for Haiti. The people of this poor but proud country are certainly ready for the tide to turn in their favor.
Haiti: Demonstrating how mobile money is helping Haiti
Congress learned something new about the power of cell phones last week – and not what you might think. Mercy Corps hosted an event on Capitol Hill to share with legislators how mobile technology can be a force for positive social change.
Haiti: What is your wish for Haiti?
This is not the type of question you hear very often here. Everyone talks about what Haiti needs: shelter, infrastructure, healthcare. But it is rare to ask Haitians what they wish for their country.
Haiti: Market fairs acting as mobile money boot camp in Haiti
On May 13, the Haiti Economic Recovery Team arrived on site in Saint-Marc’s 5eme section to witness our first market fair.
Haiti: Finding peace and serenity in Haiti
After warming up outside with a name game, the children return to the classroom for their next activity. The mentor asks them to close their eyes and focus on their breathing. They have just had an outdoor activity and it’s time to slow down — it’s time for meditation.
Haiti: In Haiti, children giggle with delight
I met Guivens Cemervil for the first time when he traveled to Mercy Corps headquarters in Portland, Oregon last January on the anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake. His story is remarkable: he was the only survivor in his university’s classroom of 60 to be unharmed.
Haiti: From walkie-talkies to mobile banking
Morse Alexis welcomes customers into his small shop with a warm smile and asks how he can help. He discusses prices and availability of his products, which vary from rice and beans to sodas to vegetables. Morse is married, 46 years old, with one son and another child on the way.
Haiti: More lost than found