Oxfam in Haiti: One Year After.
It has now been a year since Haiti was struck by an Earthquake, which killed 316 000 of its citizens and effectively destroyed the impoverished nation’s infrastructure. The population of Haiti suffered from extreme poverty before the quake. After the quake, they were in more danger than ever.
There was an immediate and dramatic response from the international humanitarian community. Over the past year, NGOs and governments have made plans and promises to assist in emergency relief and reconstruction. There have been great advances made, but real improvement has been slowed by ineffective leadership by the Haitian government, as well as poor co-ordination between the US- led Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) and aid agencies.
While significant funds were promised to Haiti, large quantities of much-needed money have not yet been released. Often, the funds which reach Haiti come with strings attached. The contributions made by donor countries often reflect their own trade and development agendas, and do not address the needs identified by Haitians themselves. In order for reconstruction to happen, the international community has to listen to Haitians and incorporate them into all decision-making about the future of their country.
This house was built using some of the rubble which slows progress in Haiti.
While Oxfam faces significant challenges in Haiti, it is also providing creative ways of solving problems. One of the greatest obstacles to reconstruction is the presence of rubble which obstructs construction sites. There isn't enough funding being dedicated to getting rid of the rubble. Millions of dollars have been pledged to building new houses, but these much needed homes can't be built until the ground is cleared.
Here's the solution: make houses from the rubble! Gabion Houses are an effective and low cost way of providing housing for displaced Haitians, while also clearing the rubble that clogs the roads and lots and contributes to unsafe conditions in Haiti. This is just one way that Oxfam is helping provide safe and sustainable improvements for people in need.
Providing safe residences for Haitians is only one important part of Oxfam's plan for reconstruction. It is also essential that Haitians have the ability to support themselves, their families and communities. Oxfam has set up cash-for-work programs, and is active in creating livelihoods that will strengthen Haitian self-reliance and create dynamic and successful communities.
Oxfam has helped Marie Carole St. Juste re-open her food shop in Carrefour-Feilles. Using her new training and resources, she supports her family while feeding her community.
Meet Marie Carole St. Juste. She's one entrepreneur who, with Oxfam's assistance, is providing services to her community while improving her ability to provide for herself and her family. She recieved a container with supplies which would allow her to re-open her shop in Carrefour-Feuilles.
“It really put joy in my heart,” said St. Juste, 34, standing in the entry of her new shop, its walls painted with a fresh coat of pink paint — a color she loves. “If it wasn’t for that container I don’t know when I’d be back on my feet. I’m on my way. I know I’m going to be able to make it back.”
She has been living next door in a shed made of metal sheeting. It leaks terribly when it rains. And in the back, a plastic tarp hangs from the ceiling to keep the beds there dry.
“When it rains, it’s like being outside,” said St. Juste.
With her business, she is supporting herself, her mother (Marie Carmel Etienne), her father, and two nieces.
These are just a few of the ways in which Oxfam is helping Haitians. Over the past year, we have achieved great success in providing necessary services, from safe water to medical treatments. Over this past year, Oxfam has made a real difference in the lives of those who have had their lives disrupted by last year's earthquake. To learn more about what we've done over the past year, including details of our spending in Haiti, please read Oxfam International's Haiti Progress Report 2010.
We've done a lot of great work this year, but the situation in Haiti is too large and too complex to solve in just one year. Right now, the people of Haiti are still in great danger. We can help Haitians rebuild their society, but there is a lot of work to be done, and many problems to solve. Oxfam is committed to bringing great improvements to Haiti, and we hope that you will continue to support the Haitian people and the Oxfam programs that support them in 2012.