CARE in Haiti since 1954 – able to respond within 2 days. I was among first contingent from Atlanta; others arrived from UK, Australia, Germany, elsewhere to reinforce local staff.
Haiti one of worst disasters in recent history – but recently superseded by Pakistan floods: more than 20m affected.
- CARE Haiti staff of 133, working on long-term programming (mostly outside Port-au-Prince, but many w/emergency experience), immediately shifted focus, many came from provinces to PAP - Community consultation where practical: e.g. in neighborhoods where national staff have close contacts. No time/access for formal consultation arrangements
Exodus to outlying areas: support to host families/communities. (Liaison to mayor/leadership in Artibonite).
- General distributions: as agencies developed our distribution network in specific areas, we made our channels available as necessary to other actors in the various sectors – e.g., for WFP food distributions. - Importance of communication/coordination not just with community, but among humanitarian actors (cluster system under UN OCHA – Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
Distributions target women: in consultation with community leaders, we identify one woman to represent each household.
National staff work with local leaders (including elected camp leadership) to organize distributions. Locals take charge, among other things, of security and emotional support
Orderly distributions: fortunately few security incidents, none major – thanks in large part to community participation in distribution process. Important not just to get it FAST, but to get it RIGHT.
Water, sanitation and hygiene one of the areas where community partnerships are most crucial. “Child-to-child” hygiene methodology, encouraging peer promotion of handwashing.
Training-of-trainers in water purification, monitoring of bladders (who uses how much water and when), hygiene practices, latrine maintenance. Groups instrumental in deciding where latrines/waste bins placed for maximum effectiveness.
Solid waste management: cash-for-work, empowering local govt.
Immediate food distribution (in partnership with WFP) phased out after first weeks (immediate distribution of 50kg rice to approx. 13,000 families in CARE’s operational zones)
Land tenure remains a crucial issue/limiting factor in shelter construction
Reinforcement of makeshift shelters to withstand rain and high wind – you may have seen headlines about recent destruction of aging tents, e.g. in camp supported by Sean Penn’s org. (as an aside, one reason we focus on tarps instead of tents is durability/flexibility)
Crucial: engagement of birth attendants, could be a midwife or a sister or mother-in-law. Public engagement on maternal health through radio spots, banners, skits, dances – esp. on nationally recognized International Women’s Day
An estimated 37,000 pregnant women were affected by the quake. Staff and volunteer hygiene promoters go from shelter to shelter at 130 spontaneous settlements. Have organized women’s clubs at 36 sites, discussing health/hygiene issues.
Rather than providing direct psychosocial support (such as counseling) to affected children, our strategy has been to build capacity among adults in the children’s environment: teachers, parents, community leaders. Perhaps slower but more effective in the long run.
Many of our priorities are not just about physical reconstruction, but about continuing to empower Haitian individuals and institutions. As such, community engagement is not just a factor – it is the sum total of our work.
CARE has been part of Haitian society since 1954. Seen here, CARE USA President and CEO Helene Gayle with a resident of the spontaneous camp closest to CARE Haiti headquarters, which residents dubbed “Camp CARE” in gratitude. We too are thankful for what we’ve been able to achieve in partnership with Haitian communities, but mindful of the huge challenges ahead, and committed for the long term.
Rick Perera: Presentation at IRD event at Emory University
Emergency Response &
Overview: Scale of emergency
1.5 million displaced
City of Léogâne:
CARE response: Immediate
Mobilization of human resources (national and
international, community engagement as feasible)
Difficult communications: community access, national
Evaluation/community consultation/immediate delivery
Identification of priorities: food, water and sanitation;
Aid at regional sub-office level
Mobilization of financial resources (initial goal of
$10 million over 3 years, actual of $100 million over 5 years)
Priority sectors and locations
Carrefour, Artibonite Shelter
Water and sanitation
Host family assistance
Distributions – approx. 300,000
– a service to the
Food & non-food
items (tarps, tents, hygiene
kits, mattresses, blankets, kitchen
sets, jerry cans, safe delivery and
newborn kits, etc.)
Advocacy (land rights,
forced relocation, etc.)
Distribution of safe-
delivery and newborn kits
Center for women –
services into primary
Psychosocial support –
Parent and teacher
Internally within CARE Haiti and the larger CARE
With authorities (technical ministries and local
With other partners via numerous coordination
…including numerous other partners
Looking ahead: priorities for
Partnership with government/civil society
Supporting capacity development of Haitian
Promoting dialogue among humanitarian actors,
and between international community and local
Addressing deep inequalities, encouraging
Women’s empowerment/youth engagement