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How CARE is Reaching People in Haiti and Rebuilding From Devastating Earthquake

Natacha Louis and her child photographed in Haiti after an earthquake wrecked havoc in the Grand-Anse region in Southn Haiti earlier in August.

Photo: © 2021 CARE

Photo: © 2021 CARE

Natacha is one of thousands of Haitians who lost their homes and their businesses in the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on August 14.

Now, Natacha is looking for new places to sleep at night with her one-month-old baby. Usually, they sleep outside in the market or the public square.

Her small store was looted by people looking for food after the earthquake, and she’s not sure how to restart. The construction business her husband worked in was destroyed by the earthquake, too.

“I need to restart my activities, my work. I don’t like to sit around.”

Natacha and her husband are exactly the people who can help rebuild Haiti if CARE and its partners can get the response right. She sells food, he works in a cement business — both local businesses that will be critically needed not just now, but in the weeks, months, and years to come.

They are not alone. Haitians keep telling CARE, “I want to work. I want a job.” If we can help them reopen, restart, and reconnect, they are ready to dive in. It’s what they want most.

Footage of Port-au-Prince, Haiti following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck on August 14, 2021.
Photo: Andre Marc Sary/CARE

Rebuilding won’t happen overnight. Right now, Natacha needs somewhere safe to stay, and is using water CARE distributed to drink and wash her clothes since she cannot afford the 5 cents it would take to buy water in the market. She has debt to pay off, since the earthquake wiped out the business that she started with a loan. She’s working on finding ways to eat more than one meal a day.

As CARE focuses on those immediate needs in the short term, we’re keeping the big picture in mind. CARE has supported more than 119,000 people since the devastating 7.2 magnitude quake — mostly with water, hygiene supplies, and information. We’re also running a Rapid Gender Analysis, a market assessment, and a needs assessment with partners to make sure that we’re listening to what people tell us they want and need in this crisis.

What earthquake recovery efforts are we doing in Haiti?

  • Helping people access water. 30,232 people (including 15,284 women) have received clean water distribution from CARE. Sometimes we distribute water several days a week to make sure they are getting enough.
  • Getting communities tools to get things working. 30,104 people live in areas where CARE is helping clear away earthquake debris, getting local groups wheelbarrows, shovels, picks, and other tools that let them get roads, waterways, and services open again.
  • Sharing information. 16,819 people have gotten information — like earthquake safety messages, information on how to access gender-based violence (GBV) services, and messages about continuing to stay safe against COVID-19. All of these people have also gotten information about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines in this high-risk environment.
  • Supporting shelter. CARE has helped 952 people (including 569 women) access tarps and other supplies so they can have the bare minimum they need to have some shelter as people organize more long-term solutions.

How are we supporting Haiti earthquake recovery efforts?

  • Asking people what they need. CARE is working on several needs assessments — from market studies to needs assessments — to understand what people want most, and what gaps they see based on what supplies are already coming through from other actors. Right now, cash, shelter, and food are among the highest priorities. People are especially worried about staying safe when temporary shelters don’t have safe spaces for women and girls, decent latrine facilities, or good lighting.
  • Paying attention to gender. In partnership with UN Women, CARE is working on the Rapid Gender Analysis that will tell us what specifically women, girls, people with disabilities, and other groups need that may not be visible in broader assessments like the ones that look at prices in the market.
  • Getting creative. CARE uses something called “Truck Sound” — a truck with speakers attached to it that plays core messages — to make sure people have the information they need. In places where connectivity is hard, literacy is variable, and social distancing essential, this makes it possible to share information safely and often with people who need it most.
  • Use technology. CARE is using SMS messages, WhatsApp, and other platforms where people are already getting information to make sure they know how to access services, what earthquake safety tips they need, and who to call if they need help.
  • Planning for cash and vouchers. The team is building on CARE’s years of expertise in Haiti — including cash and vouchers for more than 170,000 families after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 — to plan responses that will give Haitians as much choice as possible, and keep markets moving.
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