Update: Effects of Hurricane Sandy in Haiti

The effects of Hurricane Sandy in Haiti are now clear. Sandy was twice as deadly as Hurricane Isaac, which hit Haiti less than two months ago. 54 Haitians have lost their lives because of Hurricane Sandy.

As of October 30, 2012, President Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe declared a State of emergency throughout Haiti because of the many problems the country now faces after the storm.

The leaders in Haiti must find shelters for the 14,000 families that have lost their homes to flooding and wind damage. These people will also need access to clean water as the number of cholera cases has already begun to increase due to the flooding. Oxfam has received reports of about 150 new cases of cholera since the storm left the Caribbean.

Another major concern for Haitians affected by Hurricane Sandy, and the whole of Haiti, is food security. There has been a spike in food prices, which were already very high in Haiti before the storm. “Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told Reuters. Thousands of acres of crops were destroyed, which will cause food shortages and cripple the economy in southern Haiti.

Haitian Ministry of Agriculture official Jean Debalio Jean-Jacques said the government has not fully computed the economic and agricultural losses of Hurricane Sandy. However, non-profits present in Haiti and government officials are meeting on Wednesday, October 31, 2012, to further assess the damages caused by Hurricane Sandy and to create a strategic plan of action.

The world has forgotten cholera, but cholera has not forgotten Haiti

There is a misconception that the cholera epidemic in Haiti is over. While the media coverage of the cholera epidemic has all but stopped, the spread of cholera has not.  It still threatens hundreds of people’s lives everyday.  Over 600,000 people in Haiti have contracted cholera – a waterborne disease that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration — since the outbreak began in 2010.  Over 7,400 people have died as a result.

The cholera epidemic is not over and more people will continue to fall ill.  In a recent report to the UN Security Council, the World Health Organization has projected there could be up to 112,000 cholera cases in 2012 throughout Haiti.  Due to Tropical Storm Isaac and the rainy season, the number of reported cholera cases over the past two weeks has doubled. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been nearly 180 cases of cholera per day between August 24 and 29. Before August 24 there were roughly 78 cases daily.

Despite the fact that cholera is still spreading, and now at a faster rate again, UN presence has been reduced and funding for non-profits has slowed.

Cholera is extremely prevalent in countries that lack basic forms of infrastructure and water systems. 40% of people in Haiti do not have access to clean, safe water.  The Haitian Government and their non-profit partners need funds to build water treatment systems so everyone in Haiti has access to clean water.  Until Haiti receives the resources to improve their water treatment systems, cholera will exist and spread with each new storm.

By tackling the route of transmission, untreated water, we can eliminate cholera in Haiti.  It is essential to bring the people of Haiti the means and know how to achieve clean water in order to secure a safer and healthier future.

Strength in Numbers: Cooperation and Water Saved the Life of Paulin Marius

“Water is essential to our survival. Imagine being without it or having to walk hours to have access to the most vital commodity that we need to go about our daily activities.”

                                                -Madame Nicole Defay, Director of Williamson Village in Haiti

The story of Paulin Marius: how cooperation gave him clean water, which saved his father’s life

Paulin is 14 years old. He lives with his 7 brothers and sisters and his father, who is slowly going blind. His mother passed away during childbirth, and his physical development was stunted following a childhood fever.

This October, Paulin’s father fell ill with vomiting and diarrhea. Paulin walked his dad up a mountain in order to get him to the hospital for cholera treatment.

Paulin with a staff member from Hope for Haiti

One of our partners, Hope for Haiti, gave Paulin a bucket of chlorine to protect his family from future cholera outbreaks.

Clean water has made a healthy life possible for Paulin, his father, his siblings, and many children like Paulin. 

The Bigger Picture:

50% of Haitians do not have access to the most vital of resources: clean water. Waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and symptoms such as chronic diarrhea are responsible for 16% of deaths for children under the age of 5. Since October 2010, over 418,000 Haitians have been diagnosed with cholera. With so many people lacking access to clean, safe water and the number of people afflicted by cholera growing steadily each month, water and sanitation services must be improved for more people at a faster rate. Cooperation between local governments, community-based organizations, and non-governmental organizations is the only way to protect more people, faster.

The Solution:

We at International Action recognized this, and in July of this year created a Cholera Prevention Consortium. The goal of the consortium is to bring safe water to all corners of Haiti. 22 NGOs and over 20 communities have asked to join our efforts. In September alone, we donated 122  buckets (50 pounds each) of chlorine to 22 groups that work throughout Haiti.

A Glimpse of Our Partners

One of the first groups we donated to was Mercy & Sharing. Mercy & Sharing operates 3 residential care facilities for a total of 116 children in Williamson, located 37 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince. Williamson is very impoverished: the only businesses bringing in any revenue are the hotels on the beach. 51 percent of the orphans at Mercy & Sharing are disabled. They are in even greater need of clean, safe water than most because many have weakened immune systems.  Nearby is a Mercy & Sharing-run school that serves 300 students.

On July 18, 2011, Mercy & Sharing picked up 20 buckets of chlorine from International Action. They needed the chlorine because many of the children they work with were getting sick from contaminated water. Since Mercy and Sharing picked up the chlorine from us in July, they have helped provide over 18,000 people a month with clean, safe water.

“Thanks to the donation of International Action who gratefully donated the chlorine, we are now able to deliver clean water to the Williamson population.

Every day people from the community come as early as 5am to fill their bucket and jugs. Some come with their donkey making sure they carry the most water they can get while satisfying their need until the next morning.

We are lucky to have found such good-hearted people who wholesomely care about the well-being of their fellow brother and sisters.”

                                   -Madame Nicole Defay, Director of Williamson Village in Haiti

Moving Forward 

There are many towns like Williamson; many more groups like Mercy and Sharing wanting help out; and thousands of people who have stories like Paulin.

We would not have been able to help Paulin and his father without the cooperation of our consortium partners. Cooperation and clean water save lives, which is why we will continue to expand the consortium. Please forward this email to any friends and family that would like the opportunity to help out in Haiti.

We have the full support of our staff, our board members, the Haitians we work with, and even President Martelly, who made a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York at the end of September in which he championed International Action for our commitment to provide 2.5 million Haitians with clean water. But most importantly, your support makes all this work possible. Please join us in helping more children like Paulin live a healthy and happy life by donating $30 or $50 a month.

Warmest regards and deepest thanks,

— The International Action Team