A man adjusts concrete forms at a school under construction in Tabarre Issa, Haiti. The construction is supported by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), as part of its assistance to Haitians affected by the 2010 earthquake.
The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti killed 220,000 people, wounded 300,000, destroyed the equivalent of 120% of GDP and is estimated to have set development back by a decade.
Along with the international community, UMCOR quickly mobilized to respond to the emergency. Together, we set up temporary camps for over a million displaced persons, distributed food, improved access to clean water and sanitary facilities, and provided education and health services. These emergency relief efforts saved lives. Three years later, 75 percent of the displaced populations are out of informal camps and back into neighborhoods.
UMCOR responds to natural or human-made disasters—those interruptions of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community's ability to recover on its own. The mission is to alleviate human suffering—providing practical, proactive support to the most vulnerable survivors of chronic or temporary emergencies. UMCOR honors cultural differences by delivering aid to people without regard to race, religion, politics, or gender. UMCOR works alongside local communities to identify needs and solutions, and avoids tying relief and development activity to any religious or political viewpoint.
UMCOR remains in Haiti, with operations primarily in the earthquake-affected West Department, and is planning for longer-term involvement in three primary sectors: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene/Health (WASH); Livelihoods; and Shelter and Reconstruction. The UMCOR Haiti programmatic approach remains:
- Respond to needs and support recovery efforts
- Partner with other humanitarian and development agencies—leverage cost and enhance impact
- Collaborate across UMCOR/Global Ministries and the Methodist Connection
- Build Capacity—support knowledge transfer and local capacity development.
The overarching objective of UMCOR’s efforts is to support the Government of Haiti in implementing sustainable post-earthquake reconstruction. In line with this and our programmatic approach, particularly regarding partnership and collaboration, the following six core objectives will guide UMCOR’s ongoing work:
- Integrated community development results in community ownership.
- UMCOR is more locally relevant and capable.
- Access is improved to quality learning environments and education through community engagement.
- Increased capacity of the Eglise Méthodiste d’Haïti (EMH) results from targeted reconstruction and development initiatives.
- Access to water is improved in the communities the EMH serves and other UMCOR project sites.
- Livelihoods improve in the communities the EMH serves and other UMCOR project sites.
UMCOR is currently involved in directly implementing the following projects:
- Strengthening Entrepreneurship and the Economy through Women’s Business Development (SEED)
- The SEED project was developed to empower woman-headed small and medium businesses to expand by developing their core business knowledge through timely, tailored, and appropriate trainings in financial literacy and business as part of ongoing return-to-neighborhood programs.
- The project also includes significant capacity-building support for local staff of core UMCOR partners, including the EMH.
- Facilitating Camp Closures and Return/Renewal of Neighborhoods
- Following a large-scale community-engagement exercise led by UN Habitat which led to the identification of key community projects, UMCOR is implementing integrated Shelter and Reconstruction and WASH programming in the Bristout and Bobin neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. These neighborhood renewal programs support the existing Government of Haiti priority to encourage the return of camp populations by repairing and renewing neighborhoods damaged by the 2010 earthquake.
- The Shelter and Reconstruction Footbridges and Safe Public Spaces project is focused on the construction of 90 meters (98 yards) of footbridges in the Bristout and Bobin neighborhoods. The program aims to significantly increase residents’ access to livelihood activities, medical services, social networks, and education facilities and provide an opportunity to create new safe public spaces at the landing points of the footbridges.
- The Neighborhood Renewal — Facilitating Alleviation of Trash through Recycling Associations (FATRA) project, a WASH program, aims to reduce the amount of waste that requires disposal by public services in Port-au-Prince by recycling plastic waste, establishing community recycling centers, and promoting the reduction of waste at the household level through environmental education. This program seeks to create livelihoods for community members in Bristout and Bobin and also support the Haitian recycling industry.
- Hygiene and School kits distributions
- UMCOR supports the distribution of school kits and health kits through UMCOR Sager Brown. Thousands of kits have been distributed in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.
- As recovery has progressed, distributions have been integrated into recovery programming—hygiene-promotion activities may complement the distribution of health kits, and school kits may be passed out in transitional schools built or repaired by UMCOR. EMH partners are also recipients of the Sager Brown kits.
Recently Completed Projects
During the period January 1, 2011- December 31, 2012, UMCOR activities included, but were not limited to the following:
Shelter and Reconstruction Sector
- Transitional and Upgradeable Shelters Program, partnership with Habitat for Humanity
- Direct beneficiaries: 15,000 individuals
- In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, 3,000 transitional and upgradable shelters were built for families in Cabaret, Léogâne, and Port-au-Prince for earthquake-affected households.
- Transitional Shelters Program, partnership with International Relief and Development
- Direct beneficiaries: 750 individuals
- In partnership with International Relief and Development, 150 T-shelters were constructed for earthquake-affected families in Léogâne.
- Transitional classrooms - Emergency Education Support Program
- Direct beneficiaries: Up to 1,639 students and 54 teachers
- With funding from UN OCHA and in partnership with UNOPS, a total of 20 school classrooms, 2 canteens and related WASH facilities and security fencing were built in and near internally displaced persons camps in Corail and Tabarre Issa.
- UMCOR also provided locally sourced school furniture and distributed 2,700 school kits and 2,300 Hygiene kits from UMCOR Sager Brown.
- Permanent Shelter Project, partnership with BRAC
- Direct beneficiaries: 450 individuals
- In partnership with BRAC, 90 homes were rebuilt, retro-fitted, or repaired for earthquake-affected families in Léogâne and Fondwa.
- Each household also was provided with solar kits to improve safety.
- Construction of Hot Lunch Kitchens Project, partnership with Muslim Aid
- Direct beneficiaries: 5,000 annually
- With funding from Muslim Aid, 10 new kitchens were built in schools receiving food support from the World Food Program and other partners. As a result of this project, the food can now be cooked in a hygienic environment.
- Community Support Centers for House Repair (CARMEN), in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Miyamoto International: View a video, and read about the visit of UNDP Administrator Helen Clark to the program in March 2012:
- UMCOR, in partnership with UNDP and Miyamoto International, a structural and earthquake engineering firm, led the training portions of this comprehensive shelter program to empower community members with the knowledge needed to advance construction repairs of the highest quality and value. Weak construction practices significantly contributed to overall damage and devastation in the January 2010 earthquake. This training resulted in sustainable improvement to the way in which homes are built, making a significant contribution to the Government of Haiti’s plans to “Build Back Better.” The first-phase training program reached over 4,000 individuals. The second phase reached an additional 1,500 individuals. It is anticipated that the training will continue into subsequent phases.
- Repairing Schools — Facilitating Community Return Project
- Direct beneficiaries: over 1,000 students
- Integrated across the sectors of Shelter and Reconstruction and WASH, this project aimed to increase access to schools and education for children affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince by repairing damaged school facilities.
- Repairs and improvements were made to classrooms, latrines, hand-washing stations and security fences. As a result, more than 1,000 children in neighborhoods affected by the earthquake now benefit from having improved learning environments.
- Solar Kits: Improve Protection and Living Conditions for Internally Displaced Persons in Corail Camp Project
- Direct beneficiaries: 2,500 individuals
- Individual solar kits were distributed in Corail Camp, providing a free, renewable energy source, improving safety, and supporting livelihoods.
- Agriculture-based livelihood intervention for income generation in rural Haiti Project, partnership with BRAC
- Direct beneficiaries: 409 beneficiary households
- This project provided training as well as recovery seed and tool and livestock distributions to increase food security, income, and farming capacity for vulnerable families living in earthquake-affected communities in Léogâne, Fondwa, Ganthier, Ponsondé, and Jacmel,
- Carpenter Business Training Program, partnership with UNOPS
- Direct beneficiaries: 130 individuals
- Trainings in business and project planning were delivered to carpenters following the successful construction of more than 10,000 shelters. The training provided information they needed to establish their own businesses, carry out plans, implement projects for private householders, and improve their ability to earn a living from carpentry.
Water and Sanitation Sector
- Hygiene Promotion in Response to Cholera
- Direct beneficiaries: 357 individuals
- In rural schools outside Port-au-Prince identified by EMH as priority sites, activities including capacity building of EMH and UMVIM staff, WASH surveys, and hygiene promotion were carried out as a response to cholera outbreaks, in an effort to address the spread of cholera and water-related diseases.
- Income Generation from Reuse of Plastic Program
- Integrated across the sectors of WASH and Livelihoods, this project aimed to reduce the amount of waste that requires disposal by public services in Port-au-Prince by promoting the reuse of plastic waste collected at the household level.
- By providing individuals with the technical skills necessary to transform otherwise discarded plastic bags into a sellable product and with the business skills needed to sell these products and generate income, the goal of the program was to enable earthquake-affected populations to better support themselves and their families.
- By reducing plastic waste, the project also supported wider disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation efforts through environmental education workshops for 1,500 students. EMH schools and communities also benefitted from this project.