Amidst reports that recovery in Haiti has been slow and many international organizations have abandoned their commitments, Lifeline Energy is proud that 1,000 of its solar-powered and wind-up radios have been successfully distributed and implemented in Haiti’s reconstruction plans. As a year passes since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shattered Haiti leaving 1.5 million homeless, reports indicate that only a fraction of the aid promised has actually been delivered.
Despite initial frustrations with the delivery - Lifeline Energy’s project manager Chhavi Sharma travelled to Haiti to ensure the radios were appropriately distributed and that people were trained to use them – the radios have been a success. Since their distribution they have proved instrumental in informing people on reconstruction plans and health awareness tips. This is important information given that the UN has estimated that 650,000 Haitians will still be living in camps by the end of 2011 and Médecins Sans Frontières has warned that cholera will remain a serious problem in the country for years to come.
In addition, the radios are providing psychosocial support. One example is 52-year-old mother, Raymonde Saint Suren. She said that the radio has proved to be an “all day long coping mechanism,” and added, “I listen to music all day and dance along with it. It helps me deal with the conditions that we now live in.”
Amidst the rise of “tent cities” in Haiti, there is also optimism that recovery from the earthquake could open a new chapter in Haiti’s development and provide a fresh start for a country that has been plagued with natural disasters. Lifeline Energy’s radios can help in this new chapter.
Relief Web, which is administered by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, recently acknowledged that as in past crises around the world, radio continued to be the most effective tool for serving the information needs of the local population. In a report entitled "Media, Information Systems and Communities: Lessons from Haiti," it wrote that the first media priority in Haiti was to restore radio service and that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, the BBC, the Voice of America and Radio France International put together a “remarkable range of information and communications responses.”
“Radio is Haiti’s dominant medium. Access to radio can be shared easily and relatively cheaply among many people, and serves both literate and illiterate populations. […] These factors made radio the undisputed lifeline for the Haitian public after the earthquake, “ the report mentioned.
Although Lifeline Energy is no longer accepting public donations for this project, we will keep updating this important initiative on our website.
A thousand of Lifeline Energy’s wind-up and solar-powered radios have now been integrated into Haitian relief efforts. Lifeline Energy project manager Chhavi Sharma partnered with representatives from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Relief and Development (IRD) and the Sosyete Animasyon Kominikasyon Sosyal (SAKS) to distribute the radios to help some of the 1.5 million Haitians who remain displaced.
Launched immediately following the earthquake, Lifeline Energy’s Haiti appeal was initiated to ensure the vulnerable and displaced receive vital, ongoing information to help rebuild their lives. Since then, the radios have been distributed to hundreds of people who desperately need the radios for early hurricane warnings, information on reconstruction plans and updates on the country’s national elections – to name just a few.
Jean Evelt, 16, told Chhavi Sharma that he has been listening to political news on the radio. With national elections looming, Evelt said that before the radio he was unaware about the presidential and legislative elections being held in November. “Now I know that there are 19 presidential candidates, as well as who they are and which parties they belong to,” he explained.
Evelt, whose father died during the hurricane, lost his family home in the earthquake and now lives in an IRD shelter – a home made of wood and corrugated metal. Temporary shelters cover the island, with locals referring to certain areas as “tent cities.”
NDI – an NGO that we have worked with in the past – is distributing 400 of Lifeline Energy’s radios to people living in areas around citizen information centers throughout the country. One such area is Carrefour – an impoverished area near Port-au-Prince.
As for IRD, the organization has been allocated 552 of Lifeline Energy’s radios. The U.S.-based organization began its Haiti operations on January 18, six days after the earthquake struck, and has since provided water, food, sanitation, medicines and shelter material. Most of its relief work has been focused in the Leogane district, the area closest to the earthquake epicenter with more than 93 per cent destruction. According to an IRD report, every resident of Leogane was sleeping outside in makeshift shelters following the earthquake.
IRD has now set up 727 shelters to house families and aims to set up a further 1,700 by next year. Our radios are being circulated among the shelters for people to listen to information on hurricane and storm preparation updates and, imperatively, on reconstruction efforts between the government and the international community.
According to NDI and IRD representatives who spoke to Chhavi Sharma, people are especially interested in early weather warnings, so they can strengthen shelters, keep their legal documents safe and take care of their cattle in anticipation of adverse weather conditions.
Lifeline Energy’s radios not only protect Haitians now but also will protect them for years to come. Given that the Caribbean island is prone to hurricanes (in 2008, Haiti was rocked with four storms, which killed almost 800 people and effected a further 800,000), our radios provide these displaced people with critical information to help their future. In addition, the January earthquake has caused most communities to suffer from chronic power shortages, so our solar-powered and wind-up radios are vital tools.
To help the thousands of displaced Haitians, including 300,000 children, please visit Lifeline Energy’s appeal page.
Our wind-up and solar-powered Lifeline radios will play an important role in Haiti’s massive rehabilitation efforts, by disseminating practical information on local disaster preparedness efforts during the hurricane season, as well as information for such displaced groups as women and children.
As months have passed since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, the island remains in distress as 1.5 million citizens, including 300,000 children, remain displaced. Communication is an essential tool for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, as a way of coordinating the delivery of aid and communicating what is needed in terms of food, water, shelter and medical supplies, among others.
Despite the tremendous steps taken to alleviate the suffering, it is becoming increasingly clear that the longer-term recovery and reconstruction programs are only just beginning to have effect.
PROJECT NEEDS AND BENEFICIARIES
The 1,000 Lifeline radios are in Haiti and are ready for distribution to grassroots and municipal organizations, women’s associations and other community-based groups. The radios will benefit an estimated 35,000 listeners, who are unlikely to have listening access.
Lifeline Energy is working with partners National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Relief and Development (IRD) and AMARC to distribute the Lifeline radios.
NDI, our lead partner, has been active in the country for over a decade, helping to create Citizen Information Centers – community actions groups that have, since the earthquake, been vital in reconstruction. Those centers, which represent roughly 500 organizations, will be given the radios.
The radios will provide on-demand information broadcast from local and international sources, thereby improving the quality of life and providing social support.
Chhavi Sharma, Lifeline Energy’s project manager, is travelling to Haiti to help distribute the radios and conduct training.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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