VIDEO: ANTHONY TRUEHEART
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GRAPHIC: WEN CHEN
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.
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:
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.
- 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.
- As UMCOR’s work moves towards addressing sustainable development challenges in Haiti, it has scaled up the “SEED – Strengthening Entrepreneurship and the Economy through Women’s Business Development” project which seeks to empower women-headed small businesses in Port-au-Prince by developing their core business knowledge through financial literacy training and business training. This project will:
- Enable women-headed small and medium-sized enterprises to achieve greater economic self-sufficiency through training and small grants support as part of ongoing return to neighborhood programs.
- Identify approximately 500 beneficiaries amongst the most vulnerable to be part of the pilot phase.
- Build the capacity of local professionals.
- Be implemented in partnership with ICCO (Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation).
- Following a large-scale community mapping exercise in Bristout and Bobin, UMCOR has decided to support the rebuild or construction of 90 meters of footbridges in the Bristout-Bobin community. The “Neighborhood Renewal – Footbridges and Safe Public Spaces” project will significantly increase residents’ access to livelihood activities, medical services, social networks, and education facilities. In addition to providing access, the construction of footbridges provides an opportunity to create new safe public spaces at the landing points of the footbridges. Approx. 23,750 direct beneficiaries (4,750 households).
- The “Facilitating Alleviation of Trash through Recycling Associations (FATRA)” program seeks to reduce the levels of waste that require disposal by public services in Haiti by establishing community recycling centers, promoting collection from existing local trash sources, and promoting the reduction of additional waste sources at the household level through environmental education. This project will also supplement an existing Haitian industry to increase economic opportunities in the country while reducing the volume of unmanaged plastic refuse. This is the precursor to the “FATRA in Cabaret” project, which will be scaled up and replicated to serve the population of Cabaret (see below). Direct beneficiaries: Entire community of Bristout-Bobin.
- Building on UMCOR Haiti’s current programming in Cabaret (in collaboration with partners such as USAID) as well as the implementation of a FATRA project in the Bristout-Bobin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, the “FATRA Cabaret” project seeks to reduce the amount of unmanaged plastic refuse while providing livelihood opportunities for residents in the community of Cabaret. This project is a demonstration of the manner in which UMCOR Haiti has been successfully scaling pilot projects, applying successes and lessons learns, for greater impact. Direct beneficiaries:
- 60 direct beneficiaries who form the association members of the plastic collection centers,
- 300 collectors who will gain income generating opportunities,
- 20,000 residents of Cabaret will benefit from a cleaner environment with reduced trash levels, and the reduction of the amount of plastics being burned.
- UMCOR and EMH established a joint project aimed at both building the knowledge of farmers in goat husbandry/management and developing a practical working relationship between EMH and UMCOR. The “Goat Husbandry Assessment and Training” project builds on EMH’s experience in running their goat program since 2013 and has technical skills and knowledge in animal husbandry that UMCOR lacks. UMCOR on the other hand has experience in conducting assessments and developing terms of reference and would like to increase its capacity in the areas of livestock management and goat husbandry in particular. By exploring synergies and working together with the EMH, UMCOR believes that it enables the sharing of skills and knowledge which will be mutually beneficial to both parties and to the beneficiary communities.
- The “PISANS (“Power” in Creole) program,” implemented in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is one of UMCOR-Haiti’s largest projects. Implemented in collaboration with the DLA 1.5 program activities, the PISANS program integrates education, livelihoods, community relations, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions that will decrease service-based tensions between old and new communities and empower the current and new residents of Haut Damier to improve their economic, health, and education services. Direct beneficiaries: Approximately 10,000 people. The overall goals of the program are:
- To improve services for community members in Haut Damier surrounding the new DLA 1.5 resettlement housing area built by USAID,
- To promote peaceful cohabitation,
- To support integration and constructive cohabitation of the newly resettled DLA 1.5 USAID community with the host community in Haut Damier, in Cabaret.
- In early 2014, CARE approached UMCOR Haiti to partner in the implementation of its “Partnership for Learning (P4L)” project through the provision of school and hygiene kits. UMCOR Haiti's contribution to the P4L effort is to provide textbooks to be distributed to children at the “fondamentale” (primary) level. UMCOR-Haiti’s involvement in this important multiyear project enables the organization to partake in a large-scale initiative that further supports its education efforts in Haiti while reaching an underserved and often forgotten population: “restaveks” for whom opportunities to access education are particularly limited. UMCOR Haiti’s participation in this effort also serves to reinforce our reputation and position among key implementation actors in Haiti, enabling us to better position for continued strategic partnerships leading to increased impact for the people of Haiti. Direct beneficiaries: 50,000 Haitian school-aged children.
- The “WINNER” project seeks to improve the incomes and food security of an estimated 400 farming households in the Cul-de-Sac plains through reductions in post-harvest losses and an increased ability to sell produce at advantageous prices. The project achieves this goal through trainings, which improve the knowledge of farmers in harvest and post-harvest practices and management, and the use of post-harvest storage infrastructure. It aims to expand the access of farmers to post-harvest storage facilities and to increase the proportions of four staple crops—corn, rice, beans, and sorghum—that are not sold at market or consumed immediately following the harvest. Direct beneficiaries: 400 farming families.
Recently Completed Projects
During the period April 1, 2011 - March 2013, UMCOR activities included, but were not limited to the following:
Shelter and Reconstruction Sector
- Transitional and Upgradeable Shelters, Partnership with Habitat for Humanity Haiti, January 1-September 30, 2011 (Léogâne, Port-au-Prince, Cabaret). Direct beneficiaries: 15,000 beneficiaries (3,000 households).
- UMCOR and Habitat for Humanity completed a joint shelter and reconstruction project, in September 2011, which concluded with 3,000 transitional and upgradable shelters built in Cabaret, Léogâne, and Port-au-Prince areas of Haiti. This project served 3,000 households (approximately 15,000 individuals).
- Construction of Post-Earthquake Transitional Shelters-Partnership with International Relief & Development (IRD), April 1 – April 30, 2011 (Léogâne). Direct beneficiaries: 150 households (approximately 750 people).
- A joint UMCOR and IRD shelter and reconstruction project, completed in April 2011, provided for the construction of 150 shelters for earthquake affected families in Léogâne.
- Emergency Education Support Program-Partnership with OCHA, UNOPS – Completed August/September 2011 (Corail Camp, Tabarre Issa)-20 transitional school classrooms ( 9 School Classrooms in Corail Camp, 11 School Classrooms Tabarre Issa), 2 canteens in Corail Camp and associated WASH Facilities in Tabarre Issa. Approximate direct beneficiaries: 900 individuals.
- UMCOR and United Nations partners collaboration on the construction of 20 school classrooms, 2 canteens and associated Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) facilities in Corail Camp and Tabarre Issa.
- The Haiti mission also completed the distribution of locally sourced school furniture to newly constructed schools in the Corail Camp and the Tabarre Issa community. All furniture was provided by UMCOR via local production. School kits and teacher kits were also distributed along with health kits.
- UMCOR-BRAC Haiti Shelter and Reconstruction Project –Completed May 15, 2012. Approximate direct beneficiaries: 540 individuals.
- Through a joint Shelter and Reconstruction Project with BRAC, UMCOR provided safe and permanent shelters for 540 individuals through the reconstruction and repair of 90 earthquake-destroyed and damaged homes in Léogâne and Fondwa.
- UMCOR-Muslim Aid School Kitchen Project –Completed April 2012. Approximate direct beneficiaries: 5,000 students.
- Through a joint Kitchen Construction Project with Muslim Aid, UMCOR built 10 new, expanded or rehabilitated kitchens in schools where students live well below the poverty line, have no or limited access to warm food and where they are especially vulnerable to Cholera. Thanks to this project, nearly 5,000 students between 2 and 21 years of age will receive healthy, warm meals, cooked in sanitary conditions that will greatly reduce their exposure to cholera, and decrease their vulnerability to food insecurity.
- Shelter and Reconstruction Training through the CARMEN Program, Phase I: UNDP, UMCOR, Miyamoto International – Completed April 2012.
- Limited and poor construction practices significantly contributed to the overall damage and devastation caused by the January 2010 earthquake.
- UMCOR Haiti worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to carry out training of construction workers and community members as part of the UNDP CARMEN Program.
- The training, implemented in close partnership with structural and earthquake engineering firm, Miyamoto International, empowered community members by providing them with the tools and knowledge needed to ensure that any reconstruction or repairs carried out on their homes are of the highest quality, offer good value, and are completed on time. The training also provided an opportunity to educate skilled laborers on best building practices.
- UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, visited the site in March 2012.
- Shelter and Reconstruction Training through the CARMEN Program, Phase II: UNDP, UMCOR, Miyamoto International: UMCOR continued to work with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to carry out training of construction workers and community members as part of the UNDP CARMEN Program. Direct beneficiaries: over 4,000 individuals (in Phases 1 and 2 combined).
- The training UMCOR has developed and delivered empowered community members to have the tools they need to ensure that any reconstruction or repairs that are carried out on their homes are to the highest quality, offer good value, and are completed on time.
- UMCOR worked closely with partner, structural and earthquake engineering firm, Miyamoto International, on this project. Partner Miyamoto International provided technical training on best building practices to skilled laborers.
- This program has already reached 4,000 individuals (in Phases 1 and 2 combined) and is expected to result in a sustainable improvement to the way in which homes are constructed in Haiti as well as self-repair practices. Limited and poor construction practices significantly contributed to overall damage and
- The “Repairing Schools—Facilitating Community Return” shelter and reconstruction project aimed to repair damaged primary and secondary schools in the communes of Delmas and Pétion-Ville. The goal of the project was to increase access to schools and education for children affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince. Direct beneficiaries: 500 women.
- As a result of the project, thousands of children in Delmas, Pétion-Ville and other neighborhoods affected by the earthquake benefited from increased access to ten (10) quality and secure schools.
- Devastation caused by the January 2010 earthquake.
Improve Protection and Living Conditions for Residents in Corail Camp. Completed September 2011. Direct beneficiaries: 2,500 residents.
- 2,500 solar kits were distributed in Corail Camp—a renewable energy source for protection and also livelihood development.
- BRAC-UMCOR Agriculture-based livelihood intervention for income generation in rural Haiti – Completed, June 15, 2012. Direct beneficiaries: 500 women.
- In partnership with BRAC, UMCOR implemented a pilot “Agriculture-based livelihood intervention for income generation in rural Haiti” project through which a variety of activities were introduced to successfully increase food security, increase income, and build farming capacity of vulnerable families living in Léogâne, Fondwa, Ganthier, Ponsondé, and Jacmel.
- These interventions developed the skills and capacity of rural Haitians to engage in successful farming, and provided them with required inputs for their future success with agriculture and livestock activities.
- UNOPS Carpenter Business Training. Completed July 2012. Direct beneficiaries: 150 carpenters.
- Based on its successful work with the UNDP CARMEN Training Project, UMCOR was contracted by UNOPS to develop and implement a small business training curriculum for former workers of a UNOPS project, which provided construction of 10,000 Transitional Shelters. The trainings provided UNOPS ex-carpentry staff, who had worked on building these transitional shelters, with knowledge of Business and Project Planning to help them to start their own businesses and carry out projects which could provide them with an improved ability to earn a livelihood from carpentry.
- UMCOR established the “SEED– Strengthening Entrepreneurship and the Economy through Women’s Business Development – Pilot” project which empowered women-headed small businesses in Haiti by developing their core business knowledge through financial literacy training and business training. Direct beneficiaries: 75 women.
- This project will, in the long-term, enable women-headed small and medium-sized enterprises to achieve greater economic self-sufficiency through training and small grants support as part of ongoing return to neighborhood programs.
- UMCOR identified approximately 75 beneficiaries amongst the most vulnerable to be part of the pilot phase of this project.
- With this project, UMCOR also built the capacity of local professionals.
Water and Sanitation Sector
- Hygiene Promotion in Response to Cholera- Collaboration with UMVIM, Completed December 2011. Direct beneficiaries: 437 students and 20 teachers.
- UMCOR developed a pilot hygiene education program for schoolchildren in response to the cholera outbreak to promote healthy hygiene practices which can alleviate the spread of the disease. Conducted in rural areas of Port-au-Prince that were identified as priority zones by the Methodist Church in Haiti (EMH), members of the UMCOR Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) team joined one of the UMVIM teams to develop surveys, assess WASH conditions, and promote healthy hygiene practices. This project seeks to reduce the prevalence of all water-related diseases in Haiti, particularly the cholera outbreak that plagued the country in the months after the January 2010 earthquake.
- The joint WASH, Livelihood “Income Generation from Reuse of Plastic” program aimed to decrease the levels of unmanaged plastic disposal in Port-au-Prince by promoting the reuse of plastic materials through a means to generate income.
- This project sought to do so by reducing the levels of waste that require disposal by public services in Haiti’s capital, promoting collection from existing local trash sources, and promoting the reduction of additional waste sources at the household level.
- It Sought to achieve this goal while, most importantly, providing a source of income for program beneficiaries.
- To this end, the project provided individuals with the skills necessary to transform otherwise discarded plastic into a sellable product as well as the business skills to increase livelihood production and sales to generate income to support themselves and their families.
- It also supported disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation efforts through environmental education components in schools.
In addition to the activities above, hundreds of thousands of distributions of in kind donations of health and school kits are ongoing.