International Day for Disaster Reduction: Our response in Haiti

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Natural hazards like the hurricane Matthew in Haiti cannot be prevented, but their consequences can be reduced. Tdh uses its expertise in Disaster Risk Reduction to enhance preparedness and response to natural catastrophes so that children stay safe.

Tdh works together with communities who were displaced by the earthquake in 2010 to the area of Corail, situated near Port-au-Prince. In addition to hurricanes, the region is particularly vulnerable to drought, flooding and earthquakes. The buildings are not disaster resistant and there is a lack of public infrastructure and services. However, information, preparation and adequate response can improve the resilience of the children and families living there.

Since 2015, Tdh has been training families in Corail to be better prepared in the event of a disaster. The community has now acquired knowledge of evacuation strategies and safe shelters. Additionally, Tdh has finalised two community centres together with the residents this August, which function as temporary emergency shelters in the case of a catastrophe.

15 families found refuge in these community centres when hurricane Matthew hit Haiti last week. Antoine Lissorgues, responsible for Tdh’s programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean, sees the positive outcomes of the preparedness right after the catastrophe: The training sessions helped make families aware of the importance to evacuate their houses in the case of an alert and the emergency shelters have protected them from the consequences of the hurricane Matthew. After the hurricane, they were soon able to return to their homes which fortunately escaped severe damage.

We implement Disaster Risk Reduction activities to help people to independently overcome natural catastrophes and to improve their security in the best possible way. Additionally, our local team along with our emergency staff are evaluating hurricane affected families in Les Cayes (on the south coast) with a special focus on children’s needs. We have already distributed emergency kits containing food and hygiene items. We are also planning the construction of shelters and the improvement of access to drinking water.

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