How the IRC Helps in Haiti
Just before 5 p.m. on January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Haiti about 10 miles southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince. It killed approximately 230,000 people, injured 300,000 others, and wrecked great swaths of the city and surrounding areas. Losses and damage were estimated at $7.8 billion.
The government was disabled and infrastructure decimated. Half of Haiti’s schools were destroyed and its three main universities collapsed, along with hospitals and countless homes. The quake left 20 million cubic meters of debris—enough, if put in shipping containers and placed end to end, to reach from London to Jerusalem.
Even before the quake, Haiti had an unemployment rate of 80 percent and over half the population lived on less than $1 a day.
Today, nearly 1.3 million people remain displaced and are living in crowded spontaneous settlements. An outbreak of cholera has resulted in 2,100 deaths. It is feared that up to 400,000 Haitians could be stricken with cholera over the next year.
The IRC’s Response
The International Rescue Committee quickly established emergency operations and moved to address the urgent need for clean water, sanitation and health care, as well the special needs of women and girls. In the last year, our mission has grown to include health care, child welfare, economic recovery and development, and programs to combat violence against women. The IRC provides direct support to nearly 100,000 people in 30 camps.
The IRC is working alongside the Haitian people to reduce the vulnerability of families and to help people recover and earn a living. The IRC is committed to staying in Haiti for as long as it takes to ensure that communities are fully recovered and able to thrive.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
• The IRC has worked in partnership with government agencies to rehabilitate water and sanitation systems at health clinics and youth centers and built latrines, showers, and safe water points in settlements for displaced people in Port-au-Prince, Leogane and surrounding areas.
• Our community hygiene-promotion volunteers are educating residents—130,000 so far—on good health and disease-prevention practices such as handwashing and hygienic food preparation.
• Following the cholera outbreak, the IRC built and installed 30 kiosks in camps and communities to distribute oral rehydration salts weekly to Haitians suffering cholera symptoms. A surveillance team, meanwhile, is seeking out people who may be suffering symptoms but are afraid to ask for help.
• Immediately following the quake, IRC health teams were deployed to the most devastated areas of Haiti where no other aid organizations were present and where outbreaks of disease were likely.
• The IRC ran health clinics in Carrefour and Delmas, two hard-hit areas of Port-au-Prince. The clinic’s staff has conducted 24,000 consultations, administered over 8,500 vaccinations and vitamin A doses, performed over 700 malaria tests, monitored over 3,400 children for malnutrition, and delivered prenatal care to over 750 women.
• The Carrefour clinic has also served as a cholera treatment unit. Nurses from the clinic and a special IRC cholera response team have carried out education and prevention activities in 30 camps.
Children and Youth
• The IRC has established safe spaces in 11 camps, where children ages 3 to 14 can learn, heal, and play, and is creating additional centers for non-formal education and recreational activities.
• We have reunited 146 separated children with family members or other caregivers. The IRC was the first aid agency in Haiti to train case workers to identify and register missing children.
• The IRC offers older teenagers vocational skills training and helps them obtain safe, age-appropriate work.
Women and Girls
• Women and girls are at the center of the IRC’s relief effort. The IRC was the first agency to deploy a specialist dedicated to reducing sexual violence and runs a full-time program to help ensure the safety of women and girls.
• The IRC has increased access to medical treatment and psychosocial services and provides safe spaces for women and girls who have experienced sexual or physical violence
• The IRC distributed solar lights in dangerous areas to enhance safety and security and constructed private bathing stations to ensure privacy.
Economic Recovery and Development
• More than 2,000 Haitians have been put to work rebuilding infrastructure in Port-au-Prince and Leogane through an IRC cash-for-work program.
• The IRC provides technical expertise, tools, construction materials, and other resources to workers building more permanent camp facilities in preparation for jobs in the building trades as the recovery moves forward.
• Women have equal access to employment opportunities in all IRC-sponsored projects and these opportunities are not limited by traditional gender roles.
About the International Rescue Committee
The IRC responds to the world’s worst crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to individuals uprooted by war or disaster. At work today in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, the IRC restores safety, dignity, and hope to millions who are struggling to endure. The IRC leads the way from harm to home