Haiti: Five years after quake, the country still needs help
Malteser International extends assistance until 2017
Five years after the terrible earthquake that destroyed large parts of Haiti, the country still needs further assistance despite some visible progress in the fields of social infrastructure. Malteser International will therefore continue to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country at least until 2017. The relief service of the Order of Malta for humanitarian aid has already spent around 10 million euros for emergency aid and reconstruction measures. The living conditions of many people are still very poor. In addition to the earthquake, tropical hurricanes have repeatedly destroyed the crops, so that especially people living in poor areas suffer from limited access to nutrition. Particularly in the rainy season, the ongoing cholera outbreaks continue to weaken the population’s health status.
Malteser International concentrates on improving basic health care, food security, water supply and sanitation as well as disaster preparedness in Haiti. In this, the relief service focuses on the cooperation with and the capacity building of local partners in order to make the country independent from external aid in the long term. “Our programs aim at strengthening the Haitian people and further developing their capacities,” says Thomas Huefken, Malteser International Program Coordinator in Haiti. “This means that we train local partner organizations not only in project implementation, but also in the areas of administration, logistics and conflict management.” In these trainings, volunteers from partner organizations work together with Malteser International staff and thus gain practical skills. “In this way, we ensure that our local partners will become able to continue the projects even without us,” says Huefken.
The maternity ward in Darbonne near Léogâne may serve as an example for this approach: It was opened in 2012 and is part of the health center that Malteser International had rebuilt after the earthquake 2010 in cooperation with the Episcopal Church. After continuous trainings of the medical staff in basic health care and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cholera as well as of the administrative staff, Malteser International could finally hand over the maternity ward as well as the health center to the Episcopal Church which now manages both centers on its own responsibility. “When we opened the maternity ward two years ago, we had around 25 births per month. Currently, about 70 newborns see the light of day each month”, says the medical director Dr. Alix Ariste. “The word about the new and good service provided by the maternity ward and the health center has spread.” Each month, the medical team treats about 2,000 patients, controls growth and weight of more than 600 children and carries out around 400 vaccinations.