Four consecutive storms hit region, hundreds of thousands dead or affected, more help needed
HAITI (September 12, 2008)—Habitat for Humanity has begun disaster assessment and recovery in Haiti, where, within a four-week period, tropical storm Fay and hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike repeatedly struck an already vulnerable populace. The 2008 hurricane season has devastated Haiti, affecting more than 800,000 families, leaving hundreds dead and nearly 80,000 families in temporary shelter.
Habitat for Humanity International is currently initiating a disaster response strategy that focuses initial damage assessments on communities where Habitat has established programs. This recovery strategy includes home improvements, erecting basic housing units, facilitating access to construction materials, and supporting micro-entrepreneurs in the low-income construction sector to spur rebuilding efforts.
“As a result of lessons learned in responding to major disasters like the Asia Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, Habitat has further developed disaster response systems that allow us to respond more quickly and efficiently. These efforts include monitoring emergencies, performing needs assessments and program design for shelter and housing assistance,” said Mario Flores, director of disaster response field operations for Habitat for Humanity International.
The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80 percent of the population living on less than US$2 per day, Haiti is particularly vulnerable to even the mildest of natural disasters. This vulnerability is exacerbated by decades of environmental neglect, poor social and economic conditions and a volatile political situation. Many Haitian homes are poorly constructed, with walls built from mud and stones, roofs of scrap wood and metal sheets and dirt floors. A total of 15 severe tropical storms or hurricanes have hit Haiti in the last 14 years.
Flores adds that the support of Habitat’s generous donors is what enables the housing ministry to make a real difference in rebuilding the lives of families, not only in Haiti but throughout the world.
Habitat for Humanity’s global disaster response efforts focus on developing innovative housing and shelter assistance models that generate sustainable interventions for people vulnerable to or affected by disasters and/or conflicts. In addition, these efforts involve disaster mitigation, preparedness and recovery through education, training and partnerships.
About Habitat for Humanity Haiti
Habitat for Humanity has 26 years of experience in Haiti. It has provided 1,000 families with housing solutions through a variety of initiatives, including projects for new home construction, progressive building, home improvements, vocational training in construction-related trades and disaster mitigation, bringing together community and government entities.
In the city of Gonaives, Habitat’s Building and Training Center has been working since 2007 to strengthen the low-income housing sector through vocational training and home improvements for impoverished families.
Habitat is establishing a similar center in the northern city of Cap-Haitien, which will be the base of operations for its disaster reconstruction program. Additionally, Habitat plans to work in post-disaster reconstruction in Pandiassou and Cabaret, where Habitat Haiti conducts ongoing disaster mitigation projects and is currently assessing an appropriate response in repairs to homes damaged by the 2008 hurricanes, as well as building resistance for the future.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built nearly 300,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.5 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org .