Training humanitarian workers in the wake of Hurricane Matthew

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, 60 aid workers attended a training on Sphere principles and standards in Haiti.

Hurricane Matthew made landfall in southwestern Haiti on 4 October. It was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane of the last decade. With at least 546 fatalities, possibly as many as 1,600, as well as damages estimated in USD $2.25 billion, Haiti was the hardest-hit country in the hurricane's path.

On 13 October, trainer Axel Schmidt, from the German NGO Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund led a "short-notice, teaser training" on Sphere standards in Port-au-Prince. Targeted at aid workers involved in the response to the hurricane with no or insufficient knowledge of Sphere standards, the workshop, hosted by Care Haiti, was attended by 60 participants.

"It was an unbelievable Sphere training given the circumstances of the emergency in Haiti - an emergency within an emergency - but participants' expectations were met and that's what matters," says Sphere trainer Sindie Frederic-Ulysse, who supported the workshop.

"As we are expecting the situation to worsen in the coming days," she adds, "our partners must take time now to deepen their knowledge of Sphere minimum standards in order to properly address the needs and to provide life-saving assistance."

In Haiti, Matthew left some 175,000 people homeless and over a million more struggling to survive. According to the UN, at least 1.4 million Haitians are now in need of urgent assistance such as clean water, food and medicines. An ongoing cholera epidemic threatens to deteriorate after dozens of cholera care centres were destroyed.

"The idea was to deliver an interactive training session aimed at enabling participants to use the standards immediately and with a focus on upholding the right to life with dignity of the affected people," explains Schmidt.

"The workshop went well, even though the room ended up being too small for the large number of participants and a thunderstorm caused a power outage," Schmidt says. "There is very high demand for follow-up workshops, particularly in Les Cayes and Jeremie. A training of trainers would also be fantastic."