Building flood walls near Trou-du-Nord
Preparing for disaster in the northeast corner of Haiti can seem like a daunting task. The region is prone to flooding, jobs are scarce, most housing is inadequate and few people have enough to eat. Rather than focusing only on the challenges, International Medical Corps’ approach emphasizes resilience as the key to preparation. Yuri Chakalall, International Medical Corps’ Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Advisor, explains, “By focusing on resilience in Haitian communities, we are focusing on what they can do for themselves. We strengthen their ability to respond during the next disaster according to their capacity, rather than concentrate on their vulnerability.”
International Medical Corps has been working in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of 2010. Over the last six years, we continue to help the people of Haiti recover from natural disasters and fight diseases such as cervical cancer, cholera, and Zika. Wherever possible, we are also helping people be better prepared for the next disaster, by rehabilitating shelters and safe water sources.
When people in the villages of Ferrier and Trou-du-Nord need shelter from natural disasters or political unrest, they go to one of the three national schools in the area. Although the structures were relatively safe, until recently, they lacked basic amenities for good health and hygiene. Individuals had no access to safe, potable water or to latrines, and the dilapidated kitchen was filled with rubble and debris. In addition, when disasters, such as floods, do occur, the communities are cut off from basic services, such as medical aid, food and clean water. To make matters worse, areas that are prone to flooding have a higher susceptibility to water-borne diseases, such as cholera, which has been a concern in Haiti since 2010.
In Ferrier and Trou-du-Nord, International Medical Corps built gender-specific latrines, dug fresh water wells, installed water tanks and rehabilitated the kitchen at one of the shelters. We made sure that the villagers have access to safe and clean areas to shelter in the event of emergencies. To help prevent frequent and destructive floods, we also launched a Cash for Work program, working closely with the local government and community groups. This program employed local workers to build flood walls that protect the villages when nearby canals and rivers break their banks, using cobblestones and crushed rocks to shore up the river banks and planting trees to help prevent erosion.
For the people of Ferrier and Trou-du-Nord, the program made their communities more resilient in the face of future disasters, while also providing for their more immediate needs. “Our cash for work activities enabled people to pay for their children to go to school and feed their families,” said Tracy Morgan, International Medical Corps’ Country Director in Haiti.
We want to thank the GlobalGiving community for your continued support as we help Haiti make the journey from relief to self-reliance. To learn more about International Medical Corps’ emergency preparedness in Haiti for Hurricane Matthew, please visit:
The finished wall will help prevent local flooding
New latrines for boys and girls
Inside the shelter's old kitchen
The new kitchen at the emergency shelter