United Methodist Committee on Relief

In Haiti, a Strategy for Development

UMCOR develops a roadmap to move its work from a relief to a development focus.
During a stategy meeting in Haiti earlier this year, UMCOR staff (left to right) Associate General Secretary Melissa Crutchfield, EMH Liaison Lauren James, and Global Ministries missionary James Gulley confer.
Judith Santiago

November 2, 2012—The board of directors of the United Methodist Committee on Relief affirmed last week a way forward in Haiti that will allow UMCOR to support the country’s drive from relief to development after the 2010 earthquake there.

“In the emergency phase of a disaster, UMCOR, like other relief organizations, prioritizes the response to immediate needs. While we always seek to take a long view to anticipate and understand how our early actions and decisions can support future recovery, the most pressing concern during the relief phase is saving lives,” said Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR associate general secretary for international development.

“The emergency phase produced by the earthquake in Haiti has now passed. This means we have the opportunity to work with our partners and in the communities to build lasting local solutions to the impediments to development that plagued the country even prior to 2010,” she explained. “Having a development strategy in place allows us to focus on those longer-term solutions without neglecting unexpected urgent needs such as those produced recently by Hurricane Sandy in Haiti.”

According to the strategy, UMCOR will continue to work in the key program areas it has developed since the quake, nearly three years ago: livelihoods, education, health, water and sanitation, shelter and reconstruction, and capacity strengthening and partnerships.

UMCOR will do so guided by three core “strategic directions.” These are: strengthening partnerships, engaging communities in an integrated program approach, and fortifying local organizational capacity—that of UMCOR and of its main partner, Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti (EMH), the Methodist Church of Haiti.

Under the guideline of strengthening partnerships, UMCOR will bolster communications and protocols for grants management and strengthen collaborative efforts developed during the emergency phase, including the Haiti Mission Partners Conference, working groups, and roundtables.

The rubric of community engagement in an integrated program approach will help UMCOR target its work and its grants toward the critical need to establish a foundation of community ownership of programs that respond holistically to local needs.

Finally, UMCOR will dedicate energy to strengthening local organizational capacity, including that of EMH, by building disaster-response plans, disaster risk reduction training, and strategic planning.

“Having these guidelines in place allows UMCOR to be intentional about the types of projects we either fund or develop directly out of our Haiti mission,” Crutchfield said. “Together with our partners and the people of Haiti, we can be proactive instead of reactive.”

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that jarred the country on January 12, 2010, left some 230,000 people dead, more than 300,000 injured, and more than 1 million displaced. It severely damaged or destroyed fully 75 per cent of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

United Methodists and other people of goodwill donated about US $45 million to UMCOR’s rebuilding efforts in Haiti. About half that sum has been used or committed in the emergency phase, and about half remains for development work. The strategy affirmed by the UMCOR board is projected to continue for five years.

In addition to affirming the direction of UMCOR’s strategy in Haiti, the board, which met October 23, also approved significant grants for relief and recovery work in the United States, Japan, Haiti, and Zimbabwe.

The two US grants, destined respectively for the Susquehanna Conference and the Mississippi Conference, are for long-term hurricane relief. In the case of Susquehanna, the grant supports recovery from Hurricane Irene (August 2011) and in Mississippi, Hurricane Isaac (August 2012).

Your support for UMCOR’s undesignated fund supports UMCOR’s work where it is needed most. Please give go UMCOR Undesignated, Advance #999895.

*Linda Unger is senior writer for the General Board of Global Ministries.

Your support for UMCOR’s undesignated fund supports UMCOR’s work where it is needed most. Please give go UMCOR Undesignated, Advance #999895.