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Haiti: three years after the earthquake

It has been three years since the devastating earthquake struck Haiti, killing around 200,000 people and causing millions to lose their homes and livelihoods.

Fisherman Jean-Yves Louissaint Thanks to the generosity of our donors and supporters, Christian Aid raised over £14.4 million, which initially enabled us to provide immediate support to those affected by the disaster.

Since then we have continued to support those affected, building homes and restoring people’s livelihoods.

We have worked with long-standing partners in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. To date, we are working with 14 partner organisations in eight of the 10 departments in the country.

However, progress in rebuilding the country has been slow. Prior to the earthquake Haiti was the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with a lack of infrastructure, high levels of urban and rural poverty and environmental degradation. 

Therefore even for agencies like Christian Aid, who have a long-standing presence in the country, the task has not been easy.  

Yet despite the obstacles we are proud of our achievements, while acknowledging that more work lies ahead.

Seeds of hope

Agricultural production in Haiti is far lower than the demand for food – mainly because of environmental degradation – so much of Haiti’s food is imported.

In addition, poor infrastructure means the cost of transporting goods to market is also high – further driving up prices. For this reason, we continue to support farmers in order to end dependency on imported or donated food.

Through our partners, we have given farmers agricultural training, livestock, seeds and toolkits. We also continue to provide cash grants to enable people to start small businesses.

Homes for the future

Eight-year-old Samantha Cofi stands beside her damaged home After the earthquake, thousands of families moved to the countryside from Port-au-Prince, putting a strain on relatives and host communities.

Christian Aid has been supporting partners to rebuild or repair homes, allowing many families to resettle and restart their lives in the countryside and escape poverty in the city.

Local construction workers are employed to build the new wind- and earthquake-resistant homes, which are built in accordance with international standards.

In rural areas, 419 permanent houses have been built or rehabilitated by our partners GARR, Haiti Survie, Koral, Aprodema and SSID.

In addition to building homes, we support initiatives campaigning for the right to housing and efforts to stop violent evictions of people living in camps.

Reducing the impact of future disasters

Haiti has suffered massive deforestation. The country has less than two per cent of its original forest cover, making the soil loose and fragile. This leaves people more exposed to landslides, tropical storms and hurricanes.

This year, for example, Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy struck the country, destroying homes and farmland.

Our partners have distributed tree saplings to reforest hectares of land with indigenous fruit, such as mango, papaya and citrus trees, with a view to selling the fruit as a cash crop.

Video: Haiti update

Father Kawas, director of Christian Aid partner CERFAS, coordinated the Jesuit Emergency Response after the 2010 earthquake.

Interviewed in January 2013, he explains the economic and social problems that Haitians are still facing, both as a result of the earthquake and following Hurricane Sandy.

He talks about the importance of long-term development, of rebuilding hospitals and schools, and of how prayer and worldwide solidarity has been vital to the people of Haiti.

The task ahead

Christian Aid will continue to help communities to be more resilient to shocks by supporting the environmental movement in Haiti.

This includes national reforestation efforts, better environmental governance and changing the relationship of Haitians with their environment.

We will continue to invest in helping farmers to produce more, get access to markets and establish thriving livelihoods.

Our hope is that more people will run their own businesses and create social enterprises. As a result, we hope the country will import less food and have better food security.

'Our work is not simply about housing the homeless, but of creating the capacity for the people of Haiti to build a better future for themselves and their country,' said Prospery Raymond, Haiti country manager.

Read more

The Guardian: There is hope for Haiti, despite what the critics say, writes Prospery Raymond 

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A year of trials

Pray for everyone involved in working to rebuild Haiti.

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Selling the eggs

Haiti Survie’s work on securing livelihoods for communities.