Haiti storms: Haitians rebuild but remain vulnerable to natural disasters

News and Press Release
Originally published
Montreal, October 21, 2008 - Over 40 days after four tropical storms hit Haiti in quick succession, the country is struggling to get back on its feet. In early September, high winds and accompanying flooding led to 700 deaths and left 800,000 in need of emergency assistance, according to the latest estimates.

In response to the crisis, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has committed $ 270,000 to three projects in the badly affected Gonaives region and in other areas. The projects, implemented through DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE partners Papaye Peasants' Movement, Famn Deside and Caritas Haiti, will help at least 35,000 Haitians. They will concentrate on emergency aid distribution as well as on long-term reconstruction, particularly in order to boost agricultural production.

During the storms, 60-80% of the country's farm crops were destroyed, leading to fears of wide-spread famine in the coming months. Haiti is particularly vulnerable to tropical storms because of high levels of poverty, deforestation and reliance on the agricultural sector.

"Haitians are dealing with the situation as best they can, but the country needs more international support," warns Anne Catherine Kennedy, Programme Officer for Haiti at DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE.

"After Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, nothing was done to solve the country's environmental crisis, and four years later, the same thing is happening again. If the international community does nothing to address Haiti's vulnerability to natural disasters, this situation will keep repeating itself."

Those wishing to contribute to emergency relief and reconstruction in Haiti are invited to call toll free at: 1 888 664-3387 or visit DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE's website at: www.devp.org. Cheques labelled "Haiti" can be sent to 1425 René Lévesque O. 3rd floor, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1T7.