Haiti earthquake: 4 years later

Aftermath of Haitian Earthquake, 2010. Photo: Oxfam

January 12, 2014, marked the 4th anniversary of the devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti. Now four years later, major challenges remain for Haiti to continue on the road to recovery.

January 12, 2014, marked the 4th anniversary of the devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti. More than 220,000 people were killed and over 300,000 injured. The earthquake also left more than 1.5 million people homeless, and resulted in immense humanitarian crisis, highlighting long-lasting development challenges, including a cholera outbreak that started in October 2010, and several tropical storms.

Major challenges remain

Now four years later, major challenges remain for Haiti to continue on the road to recovery. According to the United Nations 817,000 Haitians still need humanitarian assistance, due to poor living conditions and heightened risks of forced evictions from the remaining 306 camps. Also, food insecurity, malnutrition, and the current cholera epidemic contribute to the needs to be met by humanitarian and development aid. Specifically the cholera epidemic persists as an important public health crisis as Haiti hosts half of the world´s suspected cholera cases.

Progress on recovery

On the other hand, thanks to the determination of the Haitian people and their government, the generosity of the public and governments around the world, notable progress has been made. 89 percent of the displaced population have left the camps, cholera incidence has dropped 50%, and the abilities of the Haitian authorities to coordinate humanitarian aid in emergencies have also improved.

Haitians are working towards a new future rebuilding effective governance structures through a greater involvement of women leaders, civil society organizations, government institutions and private sector in reconstruction plans and risk management programs.

Oxfam is there

As a result, Oxfam´s current work in Haiti is focused on longer-term development, promoting sustainable change. All programs are based on the following rights´ based aims:

  • The right to life and security: facilitating safe and decent housing in healthier and safer communities.
  • The right to a sustainable livelihood: strengthening food security through agricultural livelihoods programs, focusing specifically on small farmers and women-led enterprises, and emphasizing climate change resilience and awareness.
  • The right to essential services: building stronger and healthier communities by supporting the construction of long-term sanitation services.
  • The right to be heard: supporting community groups and women leadership at community level to strengthen their links with government authorities and local NGOs, through empowering and engaging activities.
  • The right to an identity: facilitating opportunities for displaced Haitians, especially women, to reintegrate into the society-at-large.

During the first year of Oxfam's humanitarian response we helped 500,000 people, through providing access to sanitation and water in camps, supporting protection programs for victims of gender based violence, and promoting livelihood creation through cash for work programs and support to small-scale enterprises.

In 2011, Oxfam made a transition from emergency response to longer-term rehabilitation and development-focused programming, gradually leaving the more than 120 camps where we had been working. Oxfam handed over most of our water and sanitation (WASH) programs to trained water committees and established alternative WASH provision mechanisms in all the camps we exited. We continue to monitor the camps in order to respond if the need arises and we do regular training with water committees.

In 2012, Oxfam reached 325,000 people through working in communities rather than camps, and identifying and engaging with Haitian organizations as partners in initiatives to strengthen citizen participation.

Oxfam also responded to tropical storms Isaac and Sandy, through distributions of seeds and other materials to farmers and cholera prevention activities.

Furthermore, in order to try and reduce Haiti´s vulnerability to future natural hazards, we continued our work in disaster risk reduction by creating and training local protection committees and rehabilitating irrigation canals.

Blog: How Oxfam helped families get back on their feet with work projects, grants and loans


Explore Oxfam's response to the Haiti earthquake

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Haiti earthquake response: thank you

After the earthquake, we raised approximately $98 million for our three-year earthquake response program. A further $8 million was raised in 2011, bringing the total to $106 million.

This is a significant amount, but with all of the continuing challenges in Haiti – like the cholera outbreak and destructive hurricanes and limited government capacity to handle these challenges – there is still a financial need.

In 2013, Oxfam’s total budget was $18.9 million. These funds were spent on humanitarian and development programs in water and sanitation, livelihoods, protection and urban development. Our programs reached 1,836,585 direct beneficiaries and 328,627 indirect beneficiaries.

Oxfam has been working in Haiti since 1978. At peak we had nearly 1000 staff in Haiti, 90 percent of them Haitian. This was down to about 330 staff by January 2013, with the same percentage of Haitian.

We have worked with over 100 community organizations in the implementation of our programs.

Photos: 3 years after the Haiti earthquake