Given the extent of internal displacement in Port-au- Prince and environmental degradation beyond, Haiti remains vulnerable to flooding. You can see the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in this Washington Post video clip. There will be much reporting in the days ahead about the loss of lives, homes, and livelihoods. Drawing on his experience living through the earthquake and reflecting upong Hurricane Sandy's impact, Jonathan Katz takes a moment to remind us of Haitian resilience and solidarity, qualities we can learn from.
Last week, Trenton Daniel wrote an article highlighting malnutrition and hunger in Haiti’s neglected rural areas. Over the long term, the countryside needs agricultural modernization, better environmental management, and roads to move crops to regional markets. Haiti first has to make it through hurricane season which began May 1st. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates an above normal hurricane season with a 70 percent chance of 12 to 18 named storms, including 6 to 10 hurricanes. Storms put lives, crops, and infrastructure in Haiti at risk.
Here's the good news - the first hurricane of 2009 passed on by. The bad news is that we've got a long way to go until hurricane season is over. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that there will be seven to eleven named storms in the Atlantic before the end of November, with the potential for three to six hurricanes. As we saw last year, tropical storms can wreck havoc on both crops and infrastructure. Humanitarian responders are gearing up.
The Florida Association of Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA), the Lambi Fund of Haiti, and Project Medishare would like to invite you to participate in a joint fundraiser that will be held at the Coral Gables Congregational Church on November 14th at 6:30. The event will feature a keynote address by Calvin Hughes, WPLG Morning News Anchor. There will also be music and a silent auction of Haitian art. If you can attend, please RSVP at 304-448-7421. The address is 3010 De Soto Blvd in Coral Gables, Florida across from the Biltmore Hotel.
During a recent visit to Haiti, World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned that Haiti is at a ''tipping point'' given the billion dollars of damage caused by flooding from tropical storms. For the first time in years, Haiti has a legitimately democratic, albeit struggling, government. Given the World Bank's problematic history in Haiti, the agency should help the government by forgiving its debt -with the caveat that funds would be subject to external oversight and directed to disaster preparedness and response as well as reviving the agricultural sector.
Although the floodwaters have receeded, Haitians in hurricane affected communities are still at risk. Standing water creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos that carry malaria and other diseases. For pregnant women and children, a mosquito net can be a life saving, yet cost effective, intervention. Partners in Health (PIH) has launched a campaign to purchase and then distribute 10,000 long lasted insecticide treated mosquito nets. Supporting this effort is a tangible way to help Haiti during the recovery process.
Matt recently uploaded a new set of photographs to the Haiti Innovation Flickr Account. These photos were taken during emergency operations where Haitian Red Cross volunteers and American Red Cross staff worked hand in hand throughout the country. Red Cross has considerably ramped up their programming over the past month. These photos give a sense of how profound the damage was in a way that may be impossible to convey through writing. Other non-profits may use photographs from this set provided that they credit Matthew Marek and Haiti Innovation.
The devastation to Gonaives brought with it a sense of déjà vu for Haiti watchers. We’ve been here before - the damage from Tropical Storm Jeanne was massive. Then as now, there were serious humanitarian needs that donors, non-governmental, and international organizations struggled mightily to meet. Then as now, there were a steady flow of politicians and celebrities. Other disasters happened elsewhere and Haiti again fell of the radar. The long term steps needed to ensure the survival of the city were not taken. Will things be different this time or will a preventable tragedy happen yet again?
By most accounts, the Haitian Government responded well to Gustav. The Haitian Ministry of Interior’s Office of Civil Protection (DPC) played an active role, gathering information and establishing shelters nationwide. However, Hanna overwhelmed the country's capacity and produced a national catastrophe that was exacerbated by Ike. The storms affected 600,000 people in nine of ten departments. Of them, the UN is reporting that 331 people have died and 70,000 people remain in shelters. Relief has been slow because of damaged infrastructure but it is arriving.
The damage caused by Gustav and Hannah have set Haiti back years. Many have lost their homes and livelihoods. Food security, already precarious, is worse as crops have been destroyed, fruit trees knocked over, and livestock killed. Gonaives, ever prone to flooding, bore the brunt but many other cities and towns were damaged and need assistance. The implications are being felt nationwide. Haiti needs its friends during the long recovery process.