Humanitarian group’s emergency teams ready to ramp up water, food programs
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Aug. 24, 2012) – The global humanitarian organisation CARE International is making final preparations to aid Haiti’s most vulnerable families at they brace themselves for a tropical storm threatening to bring more misery to a nation still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake.
The latest predictions have Isaac making landfall in western Haiti later today and potentially dumping more than 12 inches of rain on the country.
“It’s an eerie calm at the moment,” Jean-Michel Vigreux, CARE’s country director in Haiti, said Friday morning. “But we’re preparing for conditions to deteriorate.”
CARE, whose largely Haitian staff numbers more than 300 in the country, has designated a 79-person rapid response team. They are on stand-by to lead assessments of water and sanitation facilities and help with a wide range of possible distributions in coordination with Haiti’s water authority and the United Nations. Working in different parts of the country, including Carrefour, Leogane and Grand Anse, CARE is prepared to support the distribution of hygiene kits, latrine slabs, tarps and aquatabs that purify drinking water. Some of these items are currently in CARE warehouses and others will be supplied by other agencies.
In Port-au-Prince, the consequences of prolonged, heavy rain could be particularly dire, Vigreux said. The lack of forest cover in Haiti creates the potential for mudslides, he said. And flooding brought on by heavy rains could potentially hasten the spread of water-borne diseases. “It’s absolutely shocking how quickly the waters can rise here,” Vigreux said. “And the camps are particularly vulnerable. Preserving clean water supplies will be critical so people don’t seek out alternative, potentially contaminated sources.”
CARE, which has worked to combat gender-based violence and promote reproductive health in Haiti, will be paying particular attention to the needs of women and girls. Food and nutrition are of concern, particularly for pregnant women. CARE is prepared to scale up its food voucher program, which currently serves 12,000 families in the Grand Anse region. Participants receive electronic vouchers for the purchase of rice, maize, beans and cooking oil and other local products.
CARE, which has been in Haiti since 1954, works closely with the Haitian government, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other nongovernmental organisations. After a deadly earthquake leveled much of the capital and surrounding areas in January 2010, CARE reached more than 290,000 people with food, clean water, temporary shelter and other vital services after the disaster. CARE provided clean water for more than half a million people, built 2,550 transitional shelters and constructed 2,500 latrines and showers.