Three years on - Haiti Earthquake Response
When the earthquake hit Port-au-Prince on 12 January 2010, local World Vision staff sprang into action, distributing the bottled water they had on hand. In hindsight, it seems like a small gesture, yet it marked the beginning of a three-year, US$240 million effort to help Haiti recover and rebuild following one of the worst disasters ever to hit the Western Hemisphere.
As the sun rose on 13 January, the scope of devastation became clear; so did the magnitude of the task ahead.
Yet World Vision staff rose to the challenge. While maintaining our commitment to rural development through our Area Development Programmes, we launched the largest response effort in the organisation’s history.
During the emergency-relief phase of the response, World Vision distributed food to 2.5 million people in the first four months. We provided emergency shelter for 40,000 displaced families and worked to ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation in displacement camps throughout Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.
With time, our response shifted from relief and recovery to reconstruction and long-term development – helping communities build back stronger, creating safe environments where children can thrive, and empowering parents to provide for their families.
The Haiti earthquake response has been one of the most challenging humanitarian endeavours in World Vision’s 63-year history. Even before the quake, Haiti struggled with high unemployment, a weakened social infrastructure, and inadequate water and sanitation systems. The largely urban setting added a new dimension of complexity. Subsequent disasters – including a cholera outbreak and a number of severe storms – have only compounded an already difficult situation.
These challenges are reminders that, although our earthquake response has drawn to a close, our work in Haiti is far from finished. While we have managed to provide safe, long-lasting transitional shelters for more than 14,000 people, this is just a down payment on a brighter future for Haiti’s children. In the years ahead, we will continue working to ensure that children enjoy good health and access to education. Continuing to advocate on their behalf, we will insist that their voices are heard as Haiti plans for the future.
A child in Port-au-Prince raised his voice to express his gratitude: ‘I will never forget what World Vision has done for me, for all the help and support.’ Likewise, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to our donors, our local and international staff, and the World Vision Partnership. We could not have pursued this endeavour without the financial support, human resources and guidance you have provided. Thank you all for your unwavering commitment to help those in need realise brighter futures.
There is hope in Haiti. You can see it in classrooms where more children are returning to school every day.
You can hear it in their voices, as they share their hopes and aspirations for the future. Haiti’s children are starting to dream again, and that should give all of us hope as we face the challenges ahead.
Stefan Pleisnitzer Regional Leader, World Vision Latin America and the Caribbean