Haiti Commitment: 3 Reasons Partnerships Have Been Key
When every moment mattered, the survivors of Haiti's 7.0-magnitude earthquake did not have to wait for help. Catholic Relief Services was there within hours. Our work didn't start the day of or the day after the earthquake. We've been a trusted partner of the Haitian people since 1954.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Eighty percent of its people live on less than $2 a day in a densely populated country marred by political and socioeconomic instability.
The January 12, 2010, earthquake devastated the capital of Port-au-Prince, claiming more than 200,000 lives and leaving about 2 million people homeless.
Immediately following the earthquake, CRS responded with lifesaving food, water and emergency shelter. Now the focus has shifted from recovery to comprehensive long-term development.
Although challenges continue, tremendous progress has been made over the last 5 years. CRS' commitment to Haiti is unwavering. Here are three keys to why our partnerships in Haiti have been so productive.
Scale and Effectiveness
- We work with the Catholic Church in Haiti, which has vast networks in all 10 departments of the government, to help communities prepare for and respond to emergencies.
- Building on our expertise in emergency planning worldwide, CRS works with the Department of Civil Protection to foster a culture of preparedness. Some 40 communities in Haiti have taken measures to save lives and reduce the damage caused by disasters, including adding early warning systems and rapid response.
- CRS collaborates closely with government institutions at all levels to determine what families need and what resources are available to connect people with services in their communities.
- CRS researches and responds to the educational needs of children. In partnership with the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, we conducted nationwide research that informed a blueprint for educational improvement. It's become a catalyst for public-private partnerships that are improving quality, parental engagement and student literacy in thousands of schools nationwide.
- We're first in working directly with Haitian banking institutions to develop a loan product that will enable low-income households to borrow money at a reasonable interest rate and manage the reconstruction of their own homes.
- Partnering with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, CRS performed a comprehensive study of the effects of climate change on Haiti's mango- and coffee-value chains. We're using the data to work with farmers and inform the Haitian government's long-term strategies for coping with climate change now and to identify other crops that could thrive as conditions change.
- CRS is partnering with Johns Hopkins University, Villanova University, Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame and the three largest universities in Haiti to ensure that programs build upon the latest research and provide benefits for students and professors.
- Johns Hopkins: Running cholera response simulations to ensure field-based clinics are better prepared and able to respond during cholera surges.
- Villanova: Studying the effects of comprehensive sanitation improvements, including water infrastructure, latrines and hygiene education, on the health of children under age 5, and on their families and communities.
- Harvard: Assessing the effects of social cohesion and community on disaster preparedness and response.
- Notre Dame: Increasing the quality of education in Catholic schools through development of tools, standardized tests, research and curriculum support.
- Working with Haitian-based recycling companies and waste collectors, CRS is seeking solutions to waste-management challenges in the most populated areas of Port-au-Prince. Recycling waste can generate long-term employment and income for residents, and provides incentives for people to keep their neighborhoods clean.
- CRS is collaborating with a network of seven faith-based health facilities and clinics, as well as one of the oldest hospitals in Port-au-Prince, to develop the systems and management structures needed to provide first-rate yet efficient health care for thousands of Haitians every year.
- We work with more than 65 facilities for children and the elderly to develop the management systems, grant-writing skills and business plans needed to ensure the future resources and operating capacity of these facilities.
- In addition to supporting quality programming, CRS is working with our strategic partners to provide for the development of financial, human resource, administrative and procurement systems that will strengthen these organizations.
What took minutes to destroy on January 12, 2010, will require many more years of close collaboration and commitment to reconstruct and strengthen.
Five years after the earthquake, CRS continues to work with the Catholic Church and other partners to create lasting change, especially in advancing education, finding sustainable and innovative solutions to challenges of housing and agriculture, and improving health care in Haiti. Read more about our achievements and future goals in those areas.