PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Nearly two years after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, about $9 million of Mennonite Central Committee’s $16 million disaster response funds have been spent and allocated on projects to revitalize Haitians’ lives.
The remaining $7 million, including funding from the Canadian government, will be dispersed over the next three years. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funding will be used to develop an agriculture trade school in Desarmes and a village and livelihoods co-op for 100 displaced families in Caberet.
Susanne Brown, MCC Haiti disaster response team coordinator from Albuquerque, N.M., said the initial country-wide response focused on material relief and stimulating the economy through cash transfers, cash-for-work programs and recapitalization of small businesses.
“In the very beginning, we spent about $1.6 million on food, water and material aid, more than almost anything else, but now have shifted to projects that are more sustainable,” she said. “Underlying our entire response, though, has been advocacy for the Haitian people.”
About half of MCC’s 50 initial disaster response projects are completed.
“We’re always trying to think about how we can serve as many people as possible,” Brown said.
MCC’s long-term disaster response includes business training, housing repairs and education.
For example, MCC, along with a Haitian partner and with encouragement from fair-trade Ten Thousand Villages, helped develop marketing materials for artisans.
“These are businesses that people already have, and we were helping them to employ more people,” Brown said. “We worked with small-business models.”
After repairing more than 200 houses for people with disabilities living in tent camps, MCC is opening up the housing repairs to a broader group of participants.
Now, MCC is shifting to owner-driven housing. In this model, MCC enters an agreement with a homeowner to evaluate what he or she currently has and wants to do to improve safe living conditions.
“Going forward, most of these homes will be built in stages, over time, as people have the ability to expand their homes,” Brown said.
Education projects benefit street children, restavec (unpaid worker) children, university students and agricultural and construction trades participants.
“This is probably the most widely expressed need we hear, to have education opportunities that are connected to livelihood opportunities,” Brown said.
As the disaster response continues, MCC continues to work with Haitian partners, Haitian and international policymakers, and global constituents.
“The needs of Haitian civil society cannot be forgotten,” Brown said.
MCC Haiti facts:
- $16 million earthquake response budget, including $9 million committed to projects so far
- $3.6 million for shelter; $1.6 for food; $1.2 million for education; $435,000 for human rights; $204,000 for trauma healing; $1.15 million for emergency response; $265,000 for health initiatives
- 741 homes being repaired or constructed, including those for about 200 people with disabilities living in tent camps
- 680 buildings such as schools, medical clinics, churches, orphanages and some homes inspected by teams of MCC structural engineers
- 1,000 water filters distributed to prevent illness
- 130 masons, 60 engineers and 516 business people received training
- 12 students supported for their university education
- One community center built for youth engaged in peacebuilding
- Thousands of people participated in trauma healing programs
- 355 latrines are being built
- 34,072 relief kits, 39,026 comforters/sheets, 14,896 school kits, 4,017 tarps distributed
- Two meals a day distributed to neighborhood tent communities for three months; 1,029 people received food for eight weeks.
- 1,709 people employed in MCC-funded, cash-for-work projects in Desarmes, Port-au-Prince, Grand Goave and Leogane.
- 125 students in Desarmes trained in agriculture and building trades
Sheldon C. Good is assistant editor and web editor for Mennonite Weekly Review. These stories were written for Meetinghouse, a Mennonite editors group.