Haiti: Malteser International provides emergency aid to devastated areas
Flooding leads to concerns of potential epidemic
Cologne/Haiti: Hurricane Matthew has unleased devastation on Haiti, costing more than 1,000 people their lives according to local officials, and leaving more than half a million people in desperate need of aid in the slums of the capital Port-au-Prince. Malteser International staff are helping with initial clearance work – providing tools and equipment to re-open streets and drainage channels in order to stabilize the situation. The distribution of hygiene kits and an information campaign for people in the severely affected areas of Cité Soleil and Tabarre is planned for the immediate future.
“The storm caused extremely widespread flooding,” said Kathrin Jewert, Malteser International Program Coordinator in Haiti. “Many people here were still living in very basic huts following the earthquake that utterly devastated Haiti in 2010. In many cases these were simply washed away.” The floods also filled the streets with the content of drainage channels, including garbage and human waste. This polluted standing water in the slums poses an enormous risk to health. “Our main concern is that cholera and other diseases could spread,” said Jewert, “The situation is complete chaos, and there is absolutely no medical care available.”
The situation in the south-eastern region of Belle Anse, one of the poorest in the country, is extremely problematic. The destruction caused by the storm has virtually cut off access to the district, which had just begun the process of recovering from years of severe drought. “More than eighty percent of the crops in this region are thought to have been destroyed,” reported Kathrin Jewert.
Malteser International has been working in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of 2010. Initial emergency relief efforts were followed by long-term work to strengthen civil society actors, make sustainable improvements to water, sanitation, and hygiene structures; as well as to raise disaster preparedness, and improve the standard of nutrition amongst the population. Malteser International’s projects in Haiti are located in the slum areas of Cité Soleil and Tabarre, as well as the rural region of Belle Anse, and are carried out in close cooperation with local partner organizations.