ActionAid staff in Haiti are already working to provide immediate relief. The agency is planning to send an emergency team as soon as possible to deliver clean water, shelter and goods like blankets and soap, and is hoping to reach up to 20,000 people.
ActionAid has 20 members of staff in Haiti and works with half-a-million people. Communications with staff were severed in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake but have now been restored.
Adriano Campolina, ActionAid's Americas international director, said: "Early reports are limited but we can be sure this earthquake is a catastrophe for Haiti. We are expecting a massive death-toll as the main slum areas of downtown Port-au-Prince and neighbouring areas were badly affected. There is also lots of concern about the damage in Carrefour, the epicentre of the earthquake.
"Haiti is already the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere and has been very badly damaged by hurricanes in recent years. In the capital Port-au-Prince 80 per cent of people live in absolute poverty in shanty towns spread out over the city's hills. This latest disaster will hit the poorest Haitians hardest and they will need help from the international community to recover.
"We will be doing an initial assessment and are trying to get extra staff flown as soon as possible.
"After the initial emergency has passed ActionAid will also help poor people to rebuild their homes and restart their livelihoods." ActionAid calls on the international community to work fast to deliver aid to the Haitian people.
ActionAid has launched an appeal for those affected by the earthquake. To donate log on to actionaid.org.uk or call 01460 238000.