Jan 12th, 2012 3:46 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
The mapping team at InterAction reflect on the earthquake in Haiti on its two year anniversary.
We have all seen the statistics: over 1.5 million people displaced and 230,000 lives claimed. The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti was the second deadliest on record in the last decade.
The lack of infrastructure and strong government leadership, and overall short-comings in health care, education, housing and access to water and sanitation in Haiti only magnified the devastating impacts of the earthquake. The immense damage sustained and number of lives lost and uprooted put the international spotlight on Haiti in a historically new way. With the worlds’ eyes suddenly focused on the poorest country in the western hemisphere, non-profit organizations (NGOs) responding to the crisis felt an increased pressure to improve their transparency, accountability and coordination.
Expectations have been high; NGOs in particular have been faced with endless questions on donations raised, accomplishments and progress. InterAction members alone raised over $1.3 billion in private funding since the earthquake, and are currently implementing over 320 projects all across Haiti.
To facilitate transparency and coordination, InterAction developed Haiti Aid Map, a snapshot of who is doing what, where. Using Haiti Aid Map and its features, you can quickly determine the activities going on in a given commune or within a specific sector, which organizations are working there, and who are the beneficiaries. Mapping projects in Haiti also allows the public to better understand how their contributions are being used and how they are being allocated.
But Haiti Aid Map is more than just dots scattered across a map. Photos and videos on project pages show how communities are rebuilding and how lives are moving forward. From newly opened schools to expanded health care services to increased access to clean water, visitors to the map can see the vast amount of progress that has been made. In addition to these successes, two-thirds of those displaced have moved out of temporary camps, rubble continues to be cleared and the unexpected cholera epidemic has been contained.
Although much work remains to be done, the progress in Haiti over the past two years could not have been achieved without a coordinated and transparent response.
To learn more about the on-going work of NGOs in Haiti, please visit Haiti Aid Map.
InterAction is an alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs focused on the world’s poor and most vulnerable people. Haiti Aid Map is part of NGO Aid Map, InterAction’s online mapping initiative. To learn more or to participate in Haiti Aid Map, email email@example.com.
Jan 13th, 2011 12:00 PM UTC
By Keren Dongo
It’s been one year since my family survived the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. Since I shared so much of their story with you last year, I wanted to send you a quick update on how they’re doing and what things are like on the ground.
Recently, I took a trip to Port-au-Prince to visit my family. I’m happy to report they’re healthy and well. But a lot of what I saw on the ground surprised me. It looked to me as if the earthquake had just hit. There were piles and piles of concrete debris. Blue and white tents were scattered everywhere. These tents were meant to be temporary. Right now, they’re what a lot of Haitians call home.
But even amongst all this ruin, the people of Haiti still have a whole lot of hope. Take my aunt, for example. She’s been a teacher in Haiti for 20 years. During my trip, she showed me the remains of her school. I saw rubble and mangled desks. She saw — and quickly pointed out — a few planks standing upright in front of me. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ve started to rebuild.”
The road to recovery has been a bumpy one, and Haiti has faced some big set-backs — most recently the devastating cholera outbreak, and a precarious political situation with the Haitian government. But moved by the outpouring of concern and long-term help because of members like you, my aunt — along with millions of other Haitians — are finding ways to rebuild their lives, one plank, one nail, one classroom at a time.
Haiti is slowly rebuilding. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Schools across the country are reopening, hospitals are staffing up, and communities are fighting to come back, stronger than ever before. It hasn’t been easy — and they’ve still got a long way to go — but this progress would not have been possible without the determination of the Haitian people and the hard work and compassion of people like you, ONE members who worked together to cancel Haiti’s crippling debt last year.
This is just one story — the story of my family in Haiti. But there are projects and organizations pitching in to help for the long-term all across the country. Take a look at the slide show of photos from my own journey, and learn more about the work happening each and every day in Haiti in our blog series.
Aug 4th, 2010 3:00 PM UTC
By Jo Barrett
In Port-au-Prince, every moment of every day is marked by the 12 January earthquake. Even 6 months on, just the act of driving through the Haitian capital can be a trial. In some neighbourhoods, rubble from countless destroyed buildings still lies strewn across the roads and pavements.
At times, cars and buses have to edge over the remains of shops, businesses and homes, often tipping on their sides as they go. But the grid-locked traffic, and the rubble, are just some of the many reminders of Haiti’s worst natural disaster in over 200 years. The full reality of what is going on here is far worse.
Photo: Haiti’s cash for work scheme employs local people to help clear rubble © Natasha Fillion/Progressio
Today, hundreds of thousands of people are still living in makeshift camps. Most are in exactly the same tents they were given, or found just hours or days after the quake struck.
Life under canvas is tough. Most camps – some home to 7,000 people, some to 75,000 – provide little or no food or water, few showers, limited toilets and no electricity. The tents, which wouldn’t look out of place on a European campsite, are tiny. They are not designed to provide a comfortable quality of life under a beating Caribbean sun – or in a hurricane zone. And certainly not for months on end.
People are understandably frustrated. They talk of being forgotten and abandoned.
As one man, Claude Douge, asked me: “Why don’t people just come and talk to us and ask us what we need? How come nobody in the international community is saying anything?”
Claude would probably be pleased to know that over recent months, questions are being asked. And rightly so. After the quake, nations from around the globe pledged short and long-term support, and most chimed in agreement that the international community would never again turn a blind eye to Haiti’s plight.
Yet 6 months on, only 10% of promised assistance from the international community has been delivered to Haiti’s interim recovery commission – which, they say, is effectively paralysing their ability to plan and carry out their mandate.
So what has happened since January? There have been a catalogue of problems that, in their own small ways, have contributed to the slow progress.
In the days and weeks following, international agencies from around the world flew in to assist. There were logistical problems; from the airport becoming backlogged with aid deliveries to the fact that most roads and thoroughfares throughout Port-au-Prince were blocked by fallen buildings.
But, despite all the rhyme and reason as to why things have moved so slowly here, over the last 6 months it has become increasingly apparent that there are simply no ‘quick fixes’ for Haiti. For Haiti is a case all its own, and a complex one.
Photo: In the immediate aftermath of the quake some 11,000 people flocked to St Louis Gonzague, formerly a city park. To tackle the very many problems of camp life, people took on the job of organising themselves. Today people do the rounds of the camp speaking to camp dwellers to note their concerns, frustrations and ideas as they attempt to improve their immediate situation before they can be rehoused. © Natasha Fillion/Progressio
Hundreds of thousands of people in camps still need urgent humanitarian assistance – and fast. People must be fed – and they must have access to water and medicine. Immediate needs – including providing better shelter for those who continue to live under tarpaulins held up by little more than wooden sticks – must be met. Delivery of international commitments is part of this process.
But building a strong and well supported Haitian state must be the first priority. Ask people living in the camps today what they think of the government and most will shake their heads or laugh. “We don’t have a government here”, one man told me. “The people from the government have never been here to find out what life is like for us.”
Rebuilding Haiti is about some of the biggest and most complex development challenges, many of which could take several generations to overcome. So, while criticism is valid and progress has indeed been painfully slow, the aid effort is just part of the picture. Haiti’s reality – and its long-term needs – are sadly far more complex than they may appear. Development here will undoubtedly take time.
Jo Barrett is Media Officer at Progressio, an international development agency that is working in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to help local communities ensure their voices are heard in the reconstruction process. She travelled to Port-au-Prince and the bordering areas with the Dominican Republic in June to visit Progressio linked development work, and spent many days in the camps talking to ordinary people about their concerns and frustrations.
Aug 4th, 2010 11:02 AM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
Earlier this month, former US President Bill Clinton made headlines around the world when he announced that 6 months after Haiti’s devastating Earthquake, only 10% of pledged reconstruction assistance to the country has been delivered.
According to Clinton, co-chair of Haiti’s Interim Recovery Commission, only 4 countries have actually handed over any funds at all, namely Australia, Brazil, Norway and Estonia. This effectively paralysed the commission’s ability to plan and deliver programmes, and Clinton vowed to follow-up.
So last week we launched a global campaign in support of Clinton’s efforts and get donor countries to pay up.
This follows on from our successful campaign In July where ONE members in the US asked Congress to follow through on America’s commitment to Haiti. The resulting vote was a major victory for the people of Haiti and the thousands of ONE members who called on their elected officials to support the bill.
If you want to find who made what commitments, Haiti’s Interim Recovery Commission’s website has a detailed interactive tool where you can track individual countries’ pledges.
In addition to the 4 countries who have handed over funds, some others are close to delivering. Canada is on track to deliver its aid commitments, whilst the UK pledged money to agencies working in Haiti, but not to the Haiti government itself. Finally, the European Union is processing its aid as collecting the contributions from member countries can take time.
Yet many others lag behind.
For more detailed information on Haiti’s aid and recovery plans, please visit the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission website.
Jul 29th, 2010 4:51 PM UTC
By Michèle Bertol
As a Haitian living in Canada, my heart was broken after Haiti’s devastating earthquake on January 12. Although all of my family survived, I lost friends and so much of my country was destroyed. I was devastated and felt powerless to help.
Less than a month later, I had the honour of delivering ONE’s petition on Haiti debt forgiveness to the G8 in my hometown of Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Signed by over 200,000 ONE members from around the world, I was overjoyed when I heard the announcement come through a few days later: Haiti’s debt had been forgiven, meaning a country struggling to rebuild had one less obstacle to face.
But I’m writing to you because ONE members can make a huge difference in Haiti once again.
In the hours and days after the quake, many world leaders pledged to give Haiti the money they needed to help rebuild. But six months later, only 10% of that money has actually made it to the country. Only four countries have delivered any aid at all to Haiti (Australia, Brazil, Estonia and Norway) with Canada, the UK and most EU countries being on track to deliver.
President Clinton, UN Special Envoy to Haiti has vowed to follow-up with these deadbeat donors and we want to show the world is with him. By signing our petition in support of President Clinton, you’ll help demonstrate global support for Haiti’s speedy recovery.
Haiti has fought hard to survive and rebuild in these last six months, but if the promised funds are not delivered then their ability to plan and prepare for the future is compromised. People are still living in tents, the streets are still covered with rubble and jobs are practically non-existent.
Imagine what a difference we could make if world leaders delivered the other 90% today. Tomorrow another family might have a safe place to call home before the hurricane season rips through. Next month another girl might be walking through the doors of a new school. Next year another hospital might open to help mothers deliver babies in a clean, safe space.
I hope you’ll join me once again in ensuring Haiti is not forgotten.
Jul 22nd, 2010 3:00 PM UTC
By Kara Arsenault
You may have heard of Jeremy Cowart—photographer and ONE friend—has been capturing the situation in Haiti through his camera lens.
Since the earthquake hit in January, he’s been asking Haitians directly “How are you feeling” and “What do you have to say about all of this?” And each day he posts a new picture with another Haitian’s answer. For instance, as one man notes in the photo below,” A lot of hands make the load lighter. Let’s rebuild Haiti together.”
To see all of Jeremy’s photos to date, click here.
Jul 13th, 2010 1:54 PM UTC
By Jo Barrett
As part of our brief series looking at Haiti 6 months on from the terrible earthquake that struck the country, we hear from Jo Barrett, Media Officer at Progressio, an international development agency that is working in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to help local communities ensure their voices are heard in the reconstruction process.
At first I didn’t know what was happening. I thought the t-shirt clad workers were simply taking a break from the gruelling task of shovelling heavy piles of rubble into buckets.
But then, one by one, they lowered their face masks and clambered down from the crippled, twisted remains of what was once a 4 storey building.
Almost 6 months after Haiti’s devastasting earthquake, I hadn’t imagined people would still be pulling human remains from the rubble. But they are.
“It’s a body”, one man told me. “They have found someone up there”, he said, pointing to a spot somewhere in the clumsy mass of concrete, steel and earth.
In Port au Prince, the devastated capital of the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, it seems the grim reality of what happened on January 12 just won’t go away: as Haitians will tell you, every aspect of life here has been altered by “le douze”.
Take the sprawling camps. Even after 6 months, hundreds of thousands of people are still living under canvas. Entire families squeeze into tiny, baking-hot tents with barely enough room to lie down. There is little food, or water, or light.
And, slowly but surely, people are getting frustrated. “It’s extremely difficult living in the camp and there are lots of problems”, Coq Michelet Staël, an engineer, tells me as he tries to fix his tent up in St Louis Gonzague camp in central Port au Prince.
“We havent’t had much aid. There are days when we find food and water, but other days we don’t”, he adds.
But complaints about basic services quickly spiral into expressions of disappointment with the government. In neighbouring Henfrasa camp, Noel Fanes, also a student, lays the blame squarely with the country’s leaders.
“We have organised ourselves”, he says. “Nobody from the government has ever visited us, not even the mayor. It’s a way of hiding from their responsibilities so they don’t have to face up to what is happening”.
There is no doubt that people here feel they have had to go it alone.
Though the situation is complex, and though millions of dollars in aid have been pledged to help Haiti, I can’t help but feel Coq and Noel, and thousands more like them, deserve so much better.
Jul 12th, 2010 9:36 AM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
Back in January more the 200,000 ONE members signed our petition to cancel Haiti’s external debt and help the country rebuild from the terrible earthquake that struck on 12 January.
6 months on we thought it would be useful to report back on what happened next.
At the handover of the petition during the G7 finance ministers summit in the small Arctic Canadian town of Iqaluit (the first ONE petition to be delivered above the Arctic Circle!) we welcomed the news that the G7 had agreed to support debt relief.
According to our friends at the Jubilee Debt Campaign Venezuela cancelled $295 million of debts at the end of January, while at the end of March the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank together forgave a combined total of $472 million.
That leaves Haiti’s only outstanding debts at the moment being held by Taiwan and the IMF. Taiwan is difficult as many of these debts are held by commercial creditors who are unwilling to forgive them. The IMF, however, is currently working on a process to cancel Haiti’s remaining debts, though this hasn’t happened as yet.
The process of rebuilding Haiti will be a long one, but as ONE members we can celebrate the fact that a country facing so many obstacles on the road to recovery has, at least, one less injustice to face: Haitians will no longer be saddled with the debts accumulated by previous governments.
Feb 9th, 2010 9:57 AM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
On Saturday February 6, 2010, Michèle Bertol, a Haitian Canadian led ONE’s delegation to hand over our petition for Haiti debt forgiveness to the G7 Finance Minister’s meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.
A town of only 7,000 people near the Arctic Circle, it was harder to think of a more remote location to hold an international summit. When ONE feared we’d be unable to send the message of our 200,000 signature-strong petition to the G7, we found Michèle.
I had the opportunity to chat to Michèle about why Haiti is so important to her, and how on earth she ended up living next to the North Pole.
ONE: So, in your opinion, how did the handover of the petition go?
Michèle Bertol: Really well, it was well organised. [Canadian Finance Minister] Jim Flaherty wasn’t able to attend, but Derek Vanstone, Minister Flaherty’s Chief of Staff accepted the petition in his place, and he knew we were waiting for him. In fact, just an hour before Minister Flaherty had had a press conference and made a statement saying the G7 supported Haiti debt cancellation, so we were feeling really positive ahead of the handover.
We really wanted the photo to show the Northern setting, so even though we were indoors and we had a G7 sign, we decided to leave our parkas on while we handed over the petition and use our ONE t-shirts as arm-bands so that the picture would really feel like it was taken in the North.
ONE: Can you tell us a bit more about how you ended up in the Canadian Arctic after being born in Haiti?
MB: I was born in Haiti, but when I was 8 years old, my parents decided we needed to leave the country – there was a terrible dictatorship, and like most middle class Haitians, they feared for the future.
In those days you could apply for a green card for the United States from within the country, so my mother and I boarded a plane for New York on a 2 week holiday visa, with small suitcases as if we were just going for vacation.
A year later my father and my little sister came, and together we move to Montreal, where I spent most of my adolescence. I became a planner, and I got married and then my ex-husband was offered an amazing opportunity to work in Northern Canada, so he came up first. A few months later a planning position opened up, and I got it – and now I’ve been here for more than 20 years!
I have the unique experience of being genetically built for hot weather. Generations of my ancestors were all built to deal with heat – and so moving up North has been an intense physical challenge. I’ve been nicknamed ‘The Bundled One’ in the local language over the years because in situations where everyone was wearing 4 layers, I’d be wearing 12 – but I needed it just to survive!
However, although it’s physically uncomfortable dealing with -40◦ weather, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the life I’ve been able to live here in the North.
ONE: Why was delivering this petition so important to you?
MB: Although I’ve lived most of my life in Canada, I am Haitian born, and I still have family there. When I saw what happened, my heart wept. First it wept for my family but they are alright, but I also felt a great sadness for what had happened in the country of my birth.
I feel a great connection to Haiti, and in all the photos on TV and in magazines, I saw myself in all of those people. I felt very intimately the impact of that disaster and so I did everything I could on a personal level to help. So obviously I was so happy to be able to participate in any way I could in ONE’s initiative to have Haiti’s debt cancelled.
ONE: So why do you think the work of ONE is important for countries like Haiti?
MB: I feel that with ONE, every member looks beyond themselves for something bigger. The 2 million people who form ONE and the 200,000 ONE members who signed the petition have one thing in common: they look beyond their own life and their own conditions; beyond colour of skin or location; they look beyond tradition or age. They look beyond all that and only focus on the fact that we are all brothers and sisters. And with a heart that has such an outlook on the world, you can accomplish anything. And this is an example of how when people with such a compassionate vision get together, they can move mountains.
ONE: Is there anything you’d like to say to the ONE members all over the world who signed this petition?
MB: On behalf of our small group in the North, I offer to you and to all the members of ONE my deepest thanks for your heartfelt response to the plight of the people of Haiti. Your work embodies the essence of human compassion. ONE achieved its objective it seems now the cancellation of the debt is now just a formality. As a Haitian, and on behalf of all Haitians, I offer my deepest thanks for helping give Haiti a chance.
Feb 7th, 2010 7:45 PM UTC
By Virginia Simmons
Michèle Bertol, a Haitian Canadian and ONE member, hands over the petition urging the cancellation of Haiti’s debt to Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty’s Chief of Staff, Derek Vanstone, at the G7 finance ministers meeting in Iqaluit, Canada. Michele is joined, from left to right, by fellow ONE members Vanessa Griffin, Jean-Sébastien Icart and Erin Faulks.
Thanks to the more than 400,000 who signed the petition worldwide, the cancellation of Haiti’s debt may be all but a formality at this point.
Yesterday afternoon, four ONE members delivered the petition signatures to cancel Haiti’s debt at the G7 finance ministers summit in the small Arctic Canadian town of Iqaluit.
The petition was signed by over 200,000 ONE members and nearly 200,000 Avaaz members globally. Haiti debt petitions from Oxfam International and Jubilee were also delivered.
The petition was handed over by Michèle Bertol, a Haitian Canadian and ONE member who is the director of planning for Iqaluit and who has lived in the town for 20 years.
Just before the scheduled handover, Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty, speaking on behalf of all the G7 countries, issued the following statement:
“The earthquake caused unprecedented damage that requires exceptional measures. We agreed that the debt should not be a burden that will weigh on the recovery of the country. We are committed in the G7 to the forgiveness of debt. In fact all bilateral debt has been forgiven by G7 countries vis-à-vis Haiti.
The debt to multilateral institutions should be forgiven and we’ll work with these institutions and other partners to make this happen as soon as possible. We discussed the long term reconstruction assistance that Haiti will need as it emerges from the current urgent situation as a result of the earthquake.”
Though the $1 billion in debt is still not yet technically cancelled, the G7 countries (the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan) hold considerable influence over the international lending institutions that must ultimately and officially cancel Haiti’s debt. We at ONE now feel confident that the full cancellation of Haiti’s debt is closer to being a done deal than ever before — and we hope the details will be hammered out quickly.
And it’s all thanks to the hundreds of thousands around the globe who stood up for the people of Haiti to make this happen. Thank you!
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.