Haiti: Overview on our response one year after Hurricane Matthew

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One year ago, Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti, killing 500 people, injuring 400 and leaving 175,000 homeless. Water networks were damaged, houses with tin roofing swept by wind and rain, and fields destroyed. One year later, we take a look back at our response.

In view of the scale of the crisis, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, already on the ground, set up an emergency mission. The three main responses were water access, fight against cholera and food security.

Access to water at the heart of the crisis

Hurricane Matthew damaged and destroyed most of the water networks on its path. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL therefore decided to take action and to send an emergency team to prevent waterborne diseases from spreading, as a direct consequence of a lack of access to drinking water and sanitation facilities. In Haiti, where cholera affects thousands of people, a water, sanitation and hygiene response was essential to face the threat of the dirty hands disease.

Towards a sustainable response

Our teams installed chlorination points, distributed cholera kits (chlorine tablets, filters, jerry cans…) and set up flexible tanks allowing 15,000 people to have access to drinking water every day. The idea was to enable as many people as possible to have access to drinking water quickly. Then, to set up a sustainable response, our teams rehabilitated drinking water distribution facilities and sanitation facilities in schools. They refurbished 5 water networks, enabling more than 34,000 people to have access to drinking water. But the disinfection and the chlorination are not enough to stop cholera on the long term. That is why SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL organised awareness campaigns and created facility management committees to mobilise people.

Humanitarian impact

If the job of SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s teams was essential, alone, it would not have been enough. Every stakeholder, whether NGOs, United Nations agencies, the Haitian state, has their role to play. To respond to the emergency without forgetting anyone, strict coordination is necessary so actions are complementary. The discussions within the United Nations clusters are crucial to organise this coordination.

“In those environments, operational coordination between humanitarian stakeholders is essential to gain complementarity and efficiency to provide a better collective response to populations’ needs.” Alain Boinet, founder of SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL.

NGO coordination in Haiti reduced the cholera outbreak from 27,000 people affected in 2016 to 9,500 so far in 2017.