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US Charities in Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake Essay


Introduction

Being one of the poorest countries in the world, Haiti has always relied heavily on the help of other countries and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in providing support to its people, including education, healthcare, sanitation, and even nutrition (Kirsch, Sauer and Sapir 200). According to Karunakara, Haiti “hosts one of the largest and best-funded international aid deployments in the world” (par. 1) with over ten thousand NGOs working in the country.

However, despite their work, the living conditions in Haiti were hardly satisfactory even before the earthquake. Haiti’s healthcare system was barely functioning due to the “decades of mismanagement, corruption, and dependence on foreign assistance” (Kirsch et al. 200), with only half of the population having access to essential health services. Low availability of safe water, lack of sanitation, and chronic malnutrition were among other factors that contributed to poor health conditions nationwide (Kirsch et al. 200).

These conditions, coupled with the substantial damage caused by the earthquake, left the country and its people in a dangerous position, demanding more aid and support from NGOs than before. This paper aims to explore the overall implications of the earthquake and the response to it, as well as to provide an examination of the actions of three U.S.-based NGOs, which contributed to the restoration of Haiti following the disaster: Catholic Relief Services, Partners in Health, and Humanity First.

Initial Response and Main Issues

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on 12th January 2010, leaving more than 200 000 people dead, more than 300 000 injured, and over 1.5 million homeless (Kirsch et al. 200). It was instantly named “the worst natural disaster in a country plagued by disasters” (Kirsch et al. 200). The center of the blast was close to the capital Port-au-Prince, which was the reason for the significant damage to the city: “Many government buildings were destroyed, including the national palace, parliament, supreme court, 14 of 16 ministry buildings, major courts and police facilities, and 90% of schools” (Kirsch et al. 200)

. The UN headquarters in Haiti have also collapsed, killing more than 100 members of staff (Kirsch et al. 202). The damage to the government and the UN was one of the reasons for the lack of adequate response. Most of the support came from other countries, particularly the U.S.: “Haiti is also only 600 miles from Florida, it was easily accessible by the media, U.S. response agencies, and thousands of individuals wanting to help. These factors led to an unprecedented response from the U.S. government, which closely resembled a multi-agency domestic disaster response rather than a limited foreign one” (Kirsch et al. 202). The reaction of other governments and NGOs from all over the world was also massive in scale: “An estimated 2000 NGOs responded to Haiti, including 400 providing health care” (Kirsch et al. 203)

Given such a large number of responses worldwide, the organization of aid was the key to the active support of Haitian people. Providing shelter, healthcare, and protection against sexual and physical violence were the main priorities of the helping agencies (Kolbe et al.). Other areas where support was needed included mental health aid for those dealing with post-traumatic stress, childcare for children who lost families to the disaster or illness.

Various studies also suggest that it was important for NGOs’ staff to acknowledge the increased vulnerability of some communities following the disaster. For instance, there were many concerns about sexual violence against women in shelter camps, whereas orphaned children were exposed to the threat of trafficking, including sexual trafficking (Gupta and Agrawal 1997-1998). Overall, the NGOs were required to address a broad range of issues to facilitate the restoration process in the country.

Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services was one of the few NGOs that addressed the full range of issues. CBS report states, “CRS is carrying out coordinated programs to help people improve their food security, rebuild safe homes, restore employment and infrastructure, and live healthy lives” (1). The efforts of the NGO were focused on the areas most affected by the earthquake, including “Port-au-Prince, the southern peninsula, and the northern border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic” (CBS 1). Out of the total spending of $12 200 571, more than $2 500 000 was used to purchase, transport, and distribute food rations to a total of 10.6 million units (CBS 1).

More than 730 000 people received food from Catholic Relief Services; the NGO also continued to distribute food to local orphanages, childcare centers, hospitals, and other welfare institutions throughout 2010 every month (CBS 1). Another major focus was the provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene, which are vital factors for treatment and prevention of cholera, a disease that hit Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake: “CRS has installed hundreds of latrines and hand-washing stations, drainage, potable water tanks, and inflatable water bladders in 10 sites” (CBS 2). Other spendings included shelter, healthcare, St. Francois de Sales hospital restoration, and education and child protection.

The latter was particularly important due to the vulnerability of children in the post-disaster setting. Child-friendly spaces, established by Catholic Relief Services, provided a safe, caring environment for unaccompanied minors living in camps and shelters (CBS 2). Overall, Catholic Relief Services provided for a variety of needs of various communities affected by the earthquake.

Partners in Health

Boston-based NGO, Partners in Health, has been working in Haiti long before the earthquake through its Haitian branch Zanmi Lasante, “the largest health care provider in rural Haiti”, serving over 1.2 million people (Kidder 769). This allowed Partners in Health to be one of the first NGOs that responded to the earthquake: “As soon as they heard of the devastation, several of the senior doctors at ZL’s hospitals loaded up trucks with supplies and headed for the city, looking for groups of people in need” (Kidder 770).

Partners in Health’ activity in Haiti was mainly focused on healthcare provision not only in the aftermath of the earthquake but also in the future: for instance, the NGO built a 300-bed national public teaching hospital, which would provide primary care to more than 185 000 people in central Haiti (Partners in Health Haiti par. 4). It will also generate up to 800 staff positions for Haitians. When the cholera outbreak threatened the population in 2010, the NGO, in collaboration with other organizations, distributed vaccines to nearly 100 000 people (PIH Haiti par. 9). Partners in Health also addressed the mental health needs of the population after the earthquake and developed plans to train mental health workers to support people in case of future natural disasters (PIH Haiti par. 7-8).

Another enterprise of Partners in Health was the construction of a factory for producing Nourimanba, a therapeutic food to target malnutrition in children and adults. The production was opened in 2013, and has immediately proved to be useful: “Within a few months of officially opening this year, the facility has already created more than two dozen jobs and churned out more than 6,000 kilograms of the lifesaving treatment” (PIH Nourimanba par. 6). All in all, the efforts of Partners in Health were efficient both in the aftermath of the disaster and in the long term.

Humanity First USA

Humanity First was also among the first few organizations to arrive at the site. It was mainly involved in the emergency provision for basic needs: “With generous support from its donors and volunteers including the United States, HF was able to provide medical assistance, shelter, clean drinking water and food, sanitary and other supplies to almost 60,000 Haitians” (Humanity First par. 1). Volunteers from Humanity First USA also offered camp management support and opened base camp clinics (Humanity First par. 3).

For its long-term restoration efforts, the NGO located an isolated mountain community, which was “in dire need of health care” (Humanity First par. 5), and opened a clinic, providing healthcare advice and treatment to over 6000 people, as well as employment to 19 Haitian staff (Humanity first par. 6). Humanity First USA also supported efforts for combatting malnutrition in children by starting its Orphan Relief Program in July 2010. The program achieved reliable positive results in the first year, treating 22 children aged three months to five years (Humanity First par. 6).

Support for chronically ill patients was also provided through the Community Health Workers program, established by Humanity First USA: “Each CHW cares for 10 chronically ill patients in the community. CHWs are responsible for spreading public health awareness across Seguin” (Humanity First par. 6).

Haiti Relief Efforts and the Franciscan Tradition

At first, it seems like there is no clear link between the Franciscan Tradition and the work of NGOs in post-earthquake Haiti. Other than the fact that one of the organizations examined is Catholic, there is little correlation between religion and the services provided by the volunteers. However, a deeper examination of the Franciscan values allows perceiving a clear connection between the two.

First of all, the Franciscan Tradition puts a strong emphasis on serving not only God but also other people (Armstrong and Peterson). Franciscans see poverty as a virtue; however, they are also devoted to helping the poor and the sick (Armstrong and Peterson 60). Poverty and sickness, indeed, are the main issues faced by the Haitian communities: “80 percent of Haiti’s population who live in poverty were experiencing a longer-term, more insidious type of disaster” (Horton 296). Therefore, the care shown by the volunteers in Haiti conforms to the values of the Franciscan Tradition, even though their services were not driven by their willingness to serve by it.

Moreover, Franciscans value the community and treat each person as an equal brother or sister: “Francis wanted friars and sisters to be minores, persons who lived together and claimed no special rule or domination or power over anyone” (Mirkes 34). Haitian community, on the other hand, suffers from severe racial, gender, and class inequality, which causes serious issues for the population (Horton 298). The work of NGOs is aimed at combatting the inequalities and providing equal service to and creating a safe environment for all the people, thus bringing the Haitian society closer to the Franciscan view of society.

Conclusion: Limitations and Propositions

Despite the apparent effectiveness of the NGOs’ work in the region, there were still some limitations. For instance, Gorry outlines various issues that limited the effectiveness of NGOs’ responses, including the lack of supplies for cholera treatment, shortage of clean water, complications in the communication between the government and volunteering organizations, and so on. Karunakara also mentions the UN’s failure to distribute the work of NGOs efficiently, causing the excess of staff in some areas and shortage or lack of aid in others.

Nevertheless, these failures can help to identify areas for improvement and thus to raise the effectiveness of responses in case of future catastrophes: “A more robust management and reporting system is needed, with more experienced leaders and a staff that can be rapidly deployed” (Kirsch et al. 206). In general, the mentioned NGOs provided valuable services to the post-disaster Haiti. They addressed many health and safety issues and supported the local community, helping the affected people to avert the terrible impact that the disaster had on their lives.

Works Cited

Armstrong, Regis J., and Ingrid J. Peterson. The Franciscan Tradition: Spirituality in History, Collegeville: Liturgical, 2010. Print.

CBS News. . Web.

Gorry, Conner. “Haiti One Year Later: Cuban Medical Team Draws on Experience and Partnerships.” Medicc Review 13.1 (2011): 52-55. Web.

Gupta, Jhumka, and Alpna Agrawal. “Chronic Aftershocks of an Earthquake on the Well-being of Children in Haiti: Violence, Psychosocial Health and Slavery.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 182.18 (2010): 1997-1999. Web.

Horton, Lynn. “After the Earthquake: Gender Inequality and Transformation in Post-disaster Haiti.” Gender & Development 20.2 (2012): 295-308. Web.

Humanity First 2011, “Humanity First USA Mission to Haiti”. Humanity First USA. Web.

Karunakara, Unni. “Haiti: Where Aid Failed”. The Guardian. 2010. Web.

Kidder, Tracy. “Recovering from Disaster—Partners in Health and the Haitian Earthquake.” New England Journal of Medicine 362.9 (2010): 769-772. Web.

Kirsch, Thomas, Lauren Sauer, and Debarati Guha Sapir. “Analysis of the International and US Response to the Haiti Earthquake: Recommendations for Change.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 6.3 (2012): 200-208. Web.

Kolbe, Athena R., Royce A. Hutson, Harry Shannon, Eileen Trzcinski, Bart Miles, Naomi Levitz, Marie Puccio, Leah James, Jean Roger Noel and Robert Muggah. “Mortality, Crime and Access to Basic Needs Before and After the Haiti Earthquake: a Random Survey of Port-au-Prince Households.” Medicine, Conflict and Survival 26.4 (2010): 281-297. Web.

Mirkes, Renee. “Confessions of a Franciscan Ethicist.” Review for Religious 66.1 (2007): 30-39. Web.

Partners in Health 2013, “Haiti, Three Years after the Earthquake”. Partners in Health. Web.

Partners in Health 2013, “Nourimanba: Fighting Malnutrition, Fighting Poverty in Haiti”. Partners in Health. Web.

Annotated Bibliography

Armstrong, Regis J., and Ingrid J. Peterson. The Franciscan Tradition: Spirituality in History, Collegeville: Liturgical, 2010. Print.

This is a book on the Franciscan Tradition. It provides a generous overview of the main topics and values of the Franciscan Tradition through the use of biographical and historical notes about Francis of Assisi and his followers. This is a great source of information about the Tradition, which conveys basic principles in a clear and compelling manner.

CBS News. Catholic Relief Services’ Haiti Earthquake Response. Web.

This is a CBS news report on the Catholic Relief Services’ Haiti Earthquake Response. It provides a quantitative overview of rendered services as of 5th May 2010, as well as the plan of action for the following years. It also contains a financial breakdown by the main points of action, such as hospital provision, shelter building, and child protection.

Gorry, Conner. “Haiti One Year Later: Cuban Medical Team Draws on Experience and Partnerships.” Medicc Review 13.1 (2011): 52-55. Web.

This report covers the issue of international cooperation in the health aid sector following the earthquake. The author uses cholera epidemic to illustrate both strengths and weaknesses of the global response to the issue. In addition, he provides some propositions on closing the existing gaps in the cholera treatment strategy.

Gupta, Jhumka, and Alpna Agrawal. “Chronic Aftershocks of an Earthquake on the Well-being of Children in Haiti: Violence, Psychosocial Health and Slavery.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 182.18 (2010): 1997-1999. Web.

This study explains the risks faced by children in poor Haitian communities. It includes both the qualitative overview of the pre-earthquake situation, based on the results of the Haitian Demographic Health Survey, and the exploration of potential dangers faced by children following the disaster. It highlights issues such as child trafficking and sexual abuse and proposes a way of mitigating the risks existing in shelters and other temporary living conditions.

Horton, Lynn. “After the Earthquake: Gender Inequality and Transformation in Post-disaster Haiti.” Gender & Development 20.2 (2012): 295-308. Web.

This article uses qualitative method of research and is based on the interviews with women leaders and staff of NGOs that work on gender issues in Haiti. The results of the interviews are used to introduce the main gender problems and explore their implications in the aftermath of the disaster. The article explains how women are more than others affected by natural disasters and why it is important to address the female populations specifically during the reconstruction process.

Humanity First 2011, “Humanity First USA Mission to Haiti”. Humanity First USA. Web.

The report provides a summary of the work of Humanity First in the region. It stresses the contribution of the U.S. division in the project and describes its results. The primary focus is on short-term projects with some description of future plans.

Karunakara, Unni. “Haiti: Where Aid Failed”. The Guardian. 2010. Web.

This article provides a critique of the aid scheme in post-earthquake Haiti. It uses the example of the cholera outbreak that killed 2500 people to illustrate the complications of NGOs work in the region. One of the main struggles, according to the author, is the lack of cooperation, particularly due to inefficient control from the UN’s OCHA.

Kidder, Tracy. “Recovering from Disaster—Partners in Health and the Haitian Earthquake.” New England Journal of Medicine 362.9 (2010): 769-772. Web.

This work explores the achievements of Haitian branch of Partners in Health and its actions after the earthquake. It provides a clear overview of the NGO’s response in comparison with other organizations, including governmental ones. Furthermore, it discusses the reasons for Haiti’s vulnerability to disasters and addresses the failures of the government and the UN clusters to combat these issues efficiently.

Kirsch, Thomas, Lauren Sauer, and Debarati Guha Sapir. “Analysis of the International and U.S. Response to the Haiti Earthquake: Recommendations for Change.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 6.3 (2012): 200-208. Web.

This source provides a useful overview of the response to the earthquake. It evaluates the actions of the Haitian and U.S. governments, the United Nations, and NGOs as a whole. It also explores the situation in Haiti before the disaster and proposes solutions to ensure higher efficiency in the future.

Kolbe, Athena R., Royce A. Hutson, Harry Shannon, Eileen Trzcinski, Bart Miles, Naomi Levitz, Marie Puccio, Leah James, Jean Roger Noel and Robert Muggah. “Mortality, Crime and Access to Basic Needs Before and After the Haiti Earthquake: a Random Survey of Port-au-Prince Households.” Medicine, Conflict and Survival 26.4 (2010): 281-297. Web.

This report is based on a qualitative study of Port-au-Prince households, conducted before and after the earthquake. The survey deals with the issues of mortality, disease, crime, and access to basic needs, and aims to see the difference between pre- and post-earthquake responses. Overall, the study provides a useful summary of the changes in living conditions, health, and other factors of the residents brought by the earthquake.

Mirkes, Renee. “Confessions of a Franciscan Ethicist.” Review for Religious 66.1 (2007): 30-39. Web.

This article is written by a Franciscan ethicist. In his work, the author aims to connect the core Franciscan values with ethical principles that he uses in his work. The article draws on his personal experiences, as well as on the explanations of the Franciscan Traditions.

Partners in Health 2013, “Haiti, Three Years after the Earthquake”. Partners in Health. Web.

This report contains a useful overview of the work of Partners in Health in Haiti following the earthquake. Dated January 2013, the report lists both the completed projects and plans. The actions of the NGO address not only the issues of the earthquake aftermath but also long-standing problems, such as unemployment and malnutrition.

Partners in Health 2013, “Nourimanba: Fighting Malnutrition, Fighting Poverty in Haiti”. Partners in Health. Web.

The article follows up on the previous Partners in Health report and explores the introduction of the planned project, a factory producing medical food to combat malnutrition in children. It stresses the importance of the project not just for the direct cause but also for its side effects, such as providing work for the local community. It also emphasizes the technological aspect of the factory, showing how the automation helps to achieve maximum effectiveness.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 20). US Charities in Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/us-charities-in-haiti-after-the-2010-earthquake/

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"US Charities in Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake." IvyPanda, 20 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/us-charities-in-haiti-after-the-2010-earthquake/.

1. IvyPanda. "US Charities in Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake." August 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/us-charities-in-haiti-after-the-2010-earthquake/.


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IvyPanda. "US Charities in Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake." August 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/us-charities-in-haiti-after-the-2010-earthquake/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "US Charities in Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake." August 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/us-charities-in-haiti-after-the-2010-earthquake/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'US Charities in Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake'. 20 August.

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