USAID FrontLines - February 2010
By Ben Barber
A major earthquake struck the densely populated Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince just before 5 p.m., Jan 12. As of Feb. 6, Haiti's government estimated 212,000 were killed, hundreds of thousands badly injured, and up to 3 million people in need of food, water, medical care, and shelter.
The disaster set off one of the world's largest emergency relief operations in recent memory. Within one hour of the magnitude 7 earthquake, USAID activated its Response Management Team (RMT) at its headquarters in Washington and also told two emergency rescue teams to fly immediately to the Caribbean island nation.
President Barack Obama named the newly installed USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah to head up the U.S. emergency response and coordinate all U.S. aid. Obama initially pledged $100 million in aid, but three weeks after the quake, USAID spending on the emergency had reached $296 million; U.S. civilian and military aid together reached $464 million; and other governments and the public pledged many millions more.