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: More lost than found
Haiti: Video: Art Therapy in Haiti
Haiti: Overcoming challenges in the field: Haiti's mobile money program
One of the more inspired advantages that Mercy Corps hopes to bring to vulnerable communities via mobile money is easy access to financial services. A good number of places with high cell phone penetration are many miles from the nearest banking institution.
Haiti: Learning and teaching mobile money technology in Saut D’Eau, Haiti
It was the day of the first mobile money disbursement in Saut D’Eau, a small town in Haiti known for its waterfalls and voodoo folklore. Thanks to a grant from USAID/HIFIVE, 100 beneficiaries had been selected to receive their unconditional cash grants via cellular phone.
Haiti: A one-time grant can help save lives in Haiti
In early January, Louis Jeune Dadyne had finally infiltrated a Mercy Corps Mobile Money event. She sat quietly in the back of the small, outdoor classroom, next to a particularly rambunctious prospective vendor.
Haiti: Messages of hope for Haiti
Nine years ago I had the fortune of meeting Dr. Jane Goodall while I was working at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Like many young people, I was filled with passion and hungry for experience, but I struggled to find opportunities to engage in meaningful work. As I told Dr.
Haiti: January 12 in Haiti
Last week I had the honor of being in Haiti on January 12, the one year anniversary of the earthquake that took so many lives and caused so much suffering. On that day in Port-au-Prince, I saw processions of Haitians in the streets.
Haiti: After a year, room to give and learn
I arrived in Haiti two weeks after the earthquake, and have been here ever since. It’s hard to imagine that a year has already passed by. I still remember landing in a helicopter in a field of rubble.
Haiti: Today I'm living another way
I've been working with Mercy Corps for four months now on the Moving Forward project. Moving Forward is a sport and play-based psychosocial support program designed for youth affected by the January 12 earthquake here in Haiti.
Haiti: Interviews in the camps, a year later
A few days ago, I went out to the Mojapta displacement camp, where Mercy Corps is providing clean water and sanitation to families, to ask earthquake survivors about their experiences today — and of the last year. Gilberte Jean, 23