The threat of hurricanes is not just storm surges, floods and the ferocious winds encountered as they made landfall.
Threats from the lack of clean water, decomposing bodies and the lack fo food and medical supplies due to problems with accessibility exacerabates (worsens) the already dire situation – especially in very poor countries like Haiti.
A week after Hurricane Matthew (Oct 2016) hit Haiti, the death toll had climbed to 1,000 people, and United Nations agencies struggled to bring aid to devastated communities. The scope of the destruction on the Caribbean island nation is so dramatic it can be seen from space.
One of the most obvious changes is vegetation loss – this includes the loss of farmland that Haitian’s require for food (many farmers are subsistence farmers)
Another obvious change: the amount of sediment coursing out of the rivers and streams. This is seen from the visible change of the waters in the bay seen above, as exposed soil is washed to rivers and eventually the sea without the protection of roots of vegetation.
This interactive game simulates the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti Quake from the perspective of 3 stakeholders – Aid Worker, Survivor and Journalist.
Experience the difficulties of the groups in pursuing their goals and understand the implications of their choices and actions.
Flash is needed for this simulation.
Warning: the simulation contains graphic and disturbing imagery.
Failures of aid.
In late 2011, the Red Cross launched a multimillion-dollar project to transform the desperately poor area, which was hit hard by the earthquake that struck Haiti the year before. The main focus of the project — called LAMIKA, an acronym in Creole for “A Better Life in My Neighborhood” — was building hundreds of permanent homes.
Today, not one home has been built in Campeche. Many residents live in shacks made of rusty sheet metal, without access to drinkable water, electricity or basic sanitation. When it rains, their homes flood and residents bail out mud and water.
The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people. But the actual number of permanent homes the group has built in all of Haiti: six.
Why the failure despite the massive outpouring of donations to the American Red Cross?
1. an overreliance on foreigners who could not speak local languages (French or Creole)
The Red Cross said it has “made it a priority to hire Haitians” despite lots of competition for local professionals, and that over 90 percent of its staff is Haitian. The charity said it used a local human resources firm to help.
Yet very few Haitians have made it into the group’s top echelons in Haiti, according to five current and former Red Cross staffers as well as staff lists obtained by ProPublica and NPR.
That not only affected the group’s ability to work in Haiti, it was also expensive.
2. the lack of expertise to mount its own projects
…the Red Cross ended up giving much of the money to other groups to do the work. Those groups took out a piece of every dollar to cover overhead and management. Even on the projects done by others, the Red Cross had its own significant expenses – in one case, adding up to a third of the project’s budget.
3. Prioritised publicity over aid?
Malany says the officials wanted to know which projects would generate good publicity, not which projects would provide the most homes.
4. Difficult local conditions (including governance)
“Like many humanitarian organizations responding in Haiti, the American Red Cross met complications in relation to government coordination delays, disputes over land ownership, delays at Haitian customs, challenges finding qualified staff who were in short supply and high demand, and the cholera outbreak, among other challenges,” the charity said.