Heifer staff in Haiti helping in earthquake’s aftermath

Long-term rehabilitation plan will focus on sustainable development

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Heifer International continues to monitor news reports even as it works to maintain contact with its in-country staff in the wake of the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010.

Heifer confirmed that all six staff members are safe, but communications remain difficult in the effort to better understand conditions and to begin to assess needs and prepare a rehabilitation and recovery plan.

Like most Haitian families, Heifer staff members have lost at least one family member, and are grieving their losses. But team members are doing all they can to help other organizations provide help as well and to prepare for Heifer’s long-term rehabilitation efforts.

Heifer is still working to secure information from its partners in Haiti, but has confirmation from the Farmer Organization from Saut Mathurine (OPS) that at least 10 houses were damaged or destroyed. A member of the Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO) in Peti Goave lost his home, while the majority of houses in the Christianville Foundation Fish Ministries in Gressier were badly damaged. Just like other Haitian families, Heifer partner organizations are grieving the loss of family members as well.

On Wednesday morning, Jan. 20, 2010, even as rescuers continued to search for survivors and aid efforts were ramping up from the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti’s capital Jan. 12, killing an estimated 200,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless, a magnitude 6.1 aftershock rocked Port-au-Prince, sending screaming people running into the streets. Reports of new damage or casualties are not available at this time.

Since Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010, Heifer Haiti staff members in Les Cayes and Cape Haitien have worked in coordination with other agencies and relief organizations to support relief efforts. Families left homeless by and injured in the temblor are traveling to cities such as Les Cayes, and the need for assistance is growing exponentially.

Heifer’s Haiti staff has helped transport food, water and injured or displaced people to local clinics, shelters or other towns. Medicine and water are needed for 200 families in Varreux that took part in a Heifer project that concluded two years ago. That project was conducted with a partner organization—ADEVAII.

As the situation in Haiti stabilizes, Heifer’s Americas’ headquarters team anticipates a two-pronged response:

  1. Project rehabilitation: Heifer staff will assess project and partner needs and provide rapidly productive agricultural and livestock resources to help families meet medium- to long-term needs. Efforts will focus on helping restore land and access to clean water.

    Separate but concurrent with this process, Heifer staff will assess needs and opportunities from external target populations to formulate a three- to five-year recovery and rebuilding strategy. This assessment will include partnership building and coordination with complementary agencies for program and funding strategies.

  2. Sustainable development: Based on assessment outcomes, Heifer will support sustainable recovery of family farms through training, reforestation, improved small animal species (poultry, swine and ruminants) and soil conservation methods over three to five years.

With evidence indicating that families are migrating from Port-au-Prince and other significantly impacted areas to smaller cities and towns, Heifer will work with other agencies to identify areas with the most concentrated need and opportunity for Heifer’s assistance. Additionally, given that even before the earthquake, Port-au-Prince and other areas lacked food security and basic necessities, Heifer, working with family farms, may be able to make farm-to-city connections to help provide nutritious, affordable food to families in the city and provide needed income to surrounding towns. This is dependent upon access to good roads and travel routes.

In its post-earthquake recovery efforts, Heifer’s long-term goals in Haiti are to:

  • Ensure food security through implementation of backyard vegetable gardens, small species and other rapidly producing resources.
  • Strengthen family farms through improved land and water management.
  • Strengthen food security and income through small species (goats, pigs, fish, etc.) for micro-enterprise production.
  • Strengthen partner and project capacity to plan and respond to continual human/natural disasters.

Information about Heifer International’s work in Haiti:

  • Heifer International has worked in Haiti for 10 years. Prior to the Jan. 12, 2010 magnitude 7 earthquake, Heifer was working with more than 16,000 families and several farmer associations in 16 project programs. Projects in Haiti are scattered around the country, with some as close as 12 miles to Port-au-Prince, near the epicenter of the earthquake. Projects range from training in sustainable farming and crop diversity to gifts of livestock, seeds, trees and grains to training in nutrition, aquaculture and fish production.
  • Heifer International has six employees in Haiti, with offices in Cap-Haitien in the north and Les Cayes in the south.
  • Established in 1999, Heifer Haiti works in at least six of Haiti’s 10 departments (regions), providing livestock, seeds and training to help people improve their living conditions and to help empower them to break free of the cycle of poverty and despair.
  • The programs are characterized by strengthening small farmer organizations through agro ecology and literacy training. Livestock, seeds and training are the primary resources present in all of Heifer Haiti’s projects.  

Media Contact:
Joedy Isert