Cyclone Matthews, Haiti, emergency

Haiti emergency: worst storm in almost a decade leaves trail of devastation

Action Against Hunger mobilises emergency response

By Action Against Hunger

Oct 5 2016

The most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade has struck Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries. Torrential rains, storms and severe flooding have killed and injured many people, and destroyed homes and livelihoods. According to the UN the country is facing the "largest humanitarian event" since a huge earthquake in 2010. According to the Haitian government, an estimated 350,000 people affected by the hurricane are in need of assistance. 

Esclatine Antoine, our Country Director in Haiti, said: “Many families in the northwest and in the Artibonite department of Haiti have lost their homes. We estimate that at least 20,000 people have been affected in the town of Bombardopolis alone. We are in the process of assessing needs so that we can meet people’s most urgent needs rapidly."

Action Against Hunger launches emergency response

Present in the country for over three decades, our teams are currently assessing the situation in our operational areas in the northwest and Artibonite. They are also ready to launch new emergency programmes in some of the hardest-hit areas in the southwest of the country. Contingency plans have been activated and our emergency response team in Paris is on stand-by to reinforce teams on the ground. The storm knocked down communications and blocked roads, restricting access to many of the worst-hit areas. The needs assessment will help guide our response and ensure adequate programmes are being launched. 

Our immediate priority: access to clean water and sanitation

Access to safe water is reportedly in short supply in areas affected by the hurricane. Our priority is to bring clean water and hygiene items to families as fast as possible to prevent a spike in cholera infections. This is crucial in a country where cholera is already a problem: UNICEF reported 10 cases in Gonaïves yesterday. 

Our teams are leading efforts to address cholera in the northwest of the country and in Artibonite. We are planning to strengthen quarantine measures to restrict movement between the two departments and reinforce efforts to contain disease outbreaks. With our humanitarian stock including hygiene kits and water and sanitation equipment already prepositioned before the cyclone struck, we're ready to launch distributions. We are collaborating with partners and national authorities to coordinate our response accordingly. 


Action Against Hunger in Haiti

Present in Bombardopolis, Gonaives and Port-de-Paix, we have been delivering vital family nutrition and health services, rehabilitating water points to provide people with daily access to clean drinking water. Our wide-reaching public awareness campaigns share the importance of adequate hygiene and care practices and reduce the risk of future cholera outbreaks. We are also working in collaboration with the health authorities to improve health systems so malnourished children can receive the treatment they urgently require to regain their health.

Last year, we helped 440,266 people.

Image: An Action Against Hunger staff member during a an awareness-raising session on hygiene in Haiti. 

Credit: S. Hauenstein Swan for Action Against Hunger, 2011.