Haiti earthquake, three years later: Passing the torch to local groups
The emergency international relief agency of the Order of Malta, Malteser International, will stay in Haiti for three more years.
Three years after the earthquake that left Haiti in ruins, recovery efforts must go on – but with a much stronger focus on strengthening local structures, states Malteser International.
So the progress that Malteser International achieved in its project areas in the past three years – especially in the fields of health, reconstruction, water, sanitation, hygiene and disaster prevention – can continue and is sustainable in the long run, it is essential for local community groups to gradually assume responsibility for development activities, says Jelena Kaifenheim, senior desk officer for Haiti at Malteser International. “In Haiti, we have found cooperation partners who are really motivated and highly proactive and are working with us to achieve lasting change in their communities”, she says. “They are the basis upon which we can build up our work, so when the time comes, we can pull out of Haiti sustainably”.
In order to achieve a strong transition, however, Malteser International has committed to stay at least three more years in the country, working to prepare the local structures and train workers who will carry on development projects in the future. “Working in Haiti cannot be compared with normal emergency aid contexts, where development is linear”, explains Jelena Kaifenheim, senior desk officer for Haiti at Malteser International. “It is a lot more complex, since emergency aid and development-oriented projects go on in parallel – after Hurricane Sandy, for instance. Because of that, our work in Haiti needs not only staying power, but the ability to be flexible and adapt to the country’s changing needs”.
Malteser International has worked successfully with partners in three different locations: in Darbonne with the Haitian Episcopalian Church, in Port-au-Prince with the social grassroots movement Soley Leve, and in Belle Anse with the Dominican organization COTEDO and local citizen associations. Thanks to the financial support of EuropeAid and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Malteser International will work for the next three years to develop local structures in Belle Anse and the Cité Soleil slum in Port-au-Prince to help reduce the area’s vulnerability to disasters.
Images provided by Malteser International.