Within hours of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti's capital city January 12, 2010, Catholic Relief Services was able to begin providing life-saving food, water and emergency shelter.
The quake claimed 230,000 lives and left at least 1.5 million people homeless.
CRS' five-year strategy guided our work as we shifted from recovery to long-term development. Although challenges continue, tremendous inroads have been made during the last four years.
CRS and other humanitarian partners gave people alternatives to living in camps. We built transitional shelters, provided rental grants and subsidies, and income-generating opportunities.
Today, the number of displaced people has decreased 89% to about 170,000 from its peak in July of 2010. After having helped some 25,000 families—100,000 people—resettle in their communities, CRS has turned its sights toward working with our Haitian partners to lay the foundations needed—in healthcare, education, housing and agriculture—to create lasting change.
What took minutes to destroy will take many years and close collaboration with our partners—in Haiti, the United States and beyond—to help mend.
We have worked in Haiti for more than 50 years and we intend to remain alongside Haitians for as long as we're needed.
Hard times bring out the best in people and CRS is grateful for the outpouring of support, from Catholics and others of good faith in the United States. That support is helping Haitians not just recover, but to build back better.
Our approach to recovery has been comprehensive. We supported communities with shelter, water and sanitation, and income-generating skills and opportunities so that people could get back on their feet, earn an income and have their children in school.
Now we're back to our long-term focus on helping Haitians overcome the poverty that has stifled the country for much of its history.
CRS is helping the Catholic Church in Haiti and other partners strengthen the health care system, improve education and find sustainable and innovative solutions to the challenge of housing in Haiti.
We believe that the hundreds of dioceses and parishes across the United States that invest in Haiti each year through twinning relationships can play a crucial role in addressing some of these development challenges.Through workshops that are based on lessons we've learned during decades of working in the country, CRS is helping many of them develop technically sound projects that uplift the dignity of the Haitian people and contribute to their self sufficiency.
The already overwhelming needs in Haiti were magnified by the earthquake: lack of infrastructure, particularly water and sanitation, a shortage of safe and affordable housing, limited access to healthcare, and poor coordination across the education sector.
4-Year Response Highlights
Our more than 60 years of experience in the country allow us to work through a broad network of 200 partners, including the Catholic Church, to foster local leadership and build local capacity so that Haitians—driving their own recovery—develop solutions to these longstanding challenges.
In health, CRS and the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince are rebuilding St. François de Sales, one of countries oldest hospitals, turning the downtown facility into a 200-bed teaching hospital. St. François de Sales is one of seven faith-based hospitals CRS is working with to improve the quality of health care for poor Haitians.
To improve the quality of education, CRS, in partnership with the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education and with funding from dioceses in the United States, is training 1,000 teachers from Catholic schools in Haiti for national certification and helping to establish school governments and parent associations to increase participation by students and parents. The training comes on the heels of a first-of-its-kind survey of all Catholic schools in the country.
CRS is working together with the Haitian government and the private sector on innovative approaches for transforming camps into permanent housing communities. Construction of a 125-unit housing village will soon begin at camp Carradeux. CRS has a longstanding relationship with the Carradeux community—which began in 2010 when we resettled many of the camp's first residents to the site from the grounds of a nearby private high school—continued as we built latrines and transitional shelters. Working hand in hand with the community, we are creating a model neighborhood that community members can afford and that banks are willing to finance.
The Carradeux program, funded by USAID, is not just a housing project. It is the first in Haiti to create a financial model for low-income, permanent housing that brings together government (which facilitates land tenure/titles), the private sector (for access to credit) and low-income communities. The model can be used just as easily for commercial or mixed-use development.
Haiti needs strong, competent institutions to fight poverty and ensure Haitians rebuild the country. To do this, CRS Haiti created the Partnership and Capacity Strengthening Unit and developed a three-year plan to bolster the Church's ability to design and carry out effective development projects.
Accomplishments To Date
CRS helped 10,500 families resettle in Port-au-Prince, providing transitional shelter; clean water; sanitation; protection (such as safety measures for women and children); education; rubble removal; livelihoods and house repairs.
CRS successfully closed four camps, resettling 100% of the families living in each camp. The CRS camp resettlement project included life-skills training and psychosocial support, two innovative and successful approaches that other organizations, including the United Nations' International Organization for Migration, are considering adopting.
Using hand-powered rubble crushers supplied by CRS, communities removed almost 1.5 million cubic feet of rubble. Nearly 389,000 cubic feet of this rubble was recycled and used for foundations of more than 4,500 transitional shelters and 300 latrines.
Immediately following the earthquake, CRS provided 10 million meals to more than 1 million people in affected areas.
CRS helped communities build 10,500 transitional shelters—sturdy, modest quake- and storm-resistant buildings that enable people to return to their neighborhoods. CRS also helped construct 10 transitional classrooms for two schools in Port-au-Prince.
Some 71,000 patients received medical treatment (including 1,000 surgeries). In partnership with the Catholic Church and Haitian Ministry of Health, CRS has started the reconstruction of St. François de Sales Hospital into a modern medical facility.
CRS built cholera treatment units, medical incinerators, laboratories and storage facilities for seven partner hospitals. With partners, we provided soap, water purification tablets and hygiene guidance to 450,000 families. We distributed more than 41,000 cholera kits and sanitized 250,000 homes. We trained 2,264 community health workers and 905 civil protection committee members in cholera awareness and treatment. They, in turn, helped train nearly 3.1 million people in the community.
Water and Sanitation:
CRS installed or repaired 2,397 sanitation facilities (sinks, latrines and related plumbing) in 12 camps and 5 neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. CRS constructed 8,140 rainwater catchment units for transitional shelters, and installed 394 showers and 29 potable water tanks or inflatable water bladders in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. CRS also constructed or repaired 3½ miles of drainage canal.
CRS supported the Haitian Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education to conduct a nationwide assessment of all Catholic schools in Haiti. Results showed that Catholic schools provide education for nearly 20% of all students in Haiti. CRS trained 10 dioceses on data collection to improve their schools.
CRS created short-term employment for about 11,100 people (42% of them women) through cash-for-work activities to improve local infrastructure. Total working days were 217,630 and recipients received more than $2 million in total income. CRS provided 8,000 families with $40 vouchers that allowed them to purchase seeds from local venders to recover from crop loss in Hurricane Tomas in 2010.
CRS provided 10 Haitian dioceses with $1.1 million for 180 projects and $1.5 million in support to Church partners. CRS hosted 40 training sessions for U.S. dioceses on best practices for parish partnership. With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, CRS convened the first national-Catholic-Haiti Solidarity conference, attended by 400 people from 30 U.S. states and representatives of every diocese in Haiti.