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: What cash-for-work has (and hasn't) done for Haiti
Haiti: Assessing Mercy Corps' cash-for-work program in Haiti
Haiti: Spending Thanksgiving in Haiti
So today from Haiti, I'm thinking of all my people in States, sitting around the Thanksgiving table. What a great thought! I love Thanksgiving.
Haiti: What's needed most in Haiti right now
Haiti: Teacher to teacher, school to school
Bonjou! My husband and I arrived in Port-au-Prince's international airport yesterday. The original structure has deep cracks and rubble-filled rooms visible by the new parallel hallway that leads arriving passengers to the new terminal.
Haiti: Using art as a vehicle to help Haiti
Haiti: How we're helping families in Haiti's rural villages
I arrived in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday of this week, just ahead of Tomas, the tropical storm that just passed through Haiti today.
Haiti: Moving Forward through sports in Haiti
Guivens Cemervil (at the head of the table) trains local youth workers in the Moving Forward sports program in Port-au-Prince in July. Mercy Corps has trained 55 mentors from 23 local organizations to hold their own sports programs for six months.
Haiti: Getting the word out on cholera
For the last two days I've been out with Mercy Corps' Haiti team, which has been visiting communities in both Port-au-Prince and the Center Department to ensure they have the information they need about cholera: how to prevent it and treat it.
Haiti: Celebrating a success in Haiti
In Haiti, as might be expected, nothing ever comes easy. Here, the simplest of activities become a challenge and the best laid plans can go awry, which means that introducing something new and different can take on a whole new degree of uncertainty.