Thursday 17 June 2010
World Vision is concerned that the upcoming hurricane season in Haiti could create a secondary disaster for Haitians, urging the Haitian government and the international community to include disaster risk reduction activities in its long-term rebuilding plans.
“While we continue to focus on the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, we must prepare ourselves for the possibility of another disaster as the hurricane season approaches,” said Jean-Claude Mukadi, World Vision’s relief response manager in Haiti. “While we can’t prevent disasters like earthquakes and floods, we must focus on preventing the effects of these disasters on those at risk in Haiti.”
In 2008, Haiti was hit by 4 severe hurricanes, leaving the country struggling to recover. Haitians are exposed to growing and complex threats that result from natural disasters, high levels of poverty, severe environmental degradation, and increased vulnerability.
Multiple studies have shown that the economic cost of investing in disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction is far less than the cost of dealing with the aftermath.
“We know disaster risk reduction can save lives; we saw it work in Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr struck in 2007. Sadly, that cyclone killed 3,400 people, but an equally-powerful cyclone there in 1991 killed more than 143,000 Bangladeshis,” said Melisa Bodenhamer, World Vision’s senior advisor on disaster risk reduction. “It is our hope that by implementing similar disaster risk reduction activities, Haiti will see the same success in the years to come.”
To help prepare many displaced families for the rainy season, World Vision has implemented cash-for-work programs in its camps in Port-au-Prince, paying men and women to build and maintain latrines and bathing facilities, dig trenches in the camps to help ease the effects of heavy rains, and reinforce the temporary shelters with new tarps and poles.
In Haiti’s rural communities, World Vision has supported the creation of community committees to implement disaster risk reduction programming, including community contingency planning and raising awareness of the disasters themselves. World Vision is currently working with the Haitian government and other international organisations on a contingency plan to prepare Haiti for the hurricane season.
As with all disasters, children are always the most vulnerable, both emotionally and physically. Haiti’s children struggled to return to a sense of normalcy after the earthquake, and they will struggle again if severe hurricanes hit the island this year.
World Vision’s disaster risk reduction work has been particularly successful when children are involved in the process. By equipping children to protect themselves, community resilience is greatly enhanced over the long-term and vulnerability to environmental threats is significantly reduced.
You can read latest updates about World Vision’s response in Haiti or donate to the Haiti earthquake appeal here.