Dispatch 4 January 19, 2010
POST EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE TO HAITI’S “GREAT SOUTH”
For twenty-three years, HRDF has had a strong presence in civil defense and emergency response training, health and environmental research and development in Haiti’s southern peninsula. Its headquarters are in Aquin, a coastal “commune” of 60,000 located on the Caribbean coast approximately midway between the larger cities Les Cayes and Jacmel. The south is rich in natural resources, much of the land is fertile, supplying large quantities of fresh produce to Port-au-Prince. HRDF intends to concentrate its effort in this southern region for several reasons:
1. The South is home to approximately a million Haitians.
2. The South has not been systematically assessed for damage, loss of life, condition of infrastructure, survival needs, etc. A few reports indicate significant needs and communities isolated.
3. A major east-west geological fault underlies under the entire region.
4. The epicenter of the recent earthquake was in the northeast quadrant of the South.
5. HRDF has viable, continuing partnerships in the South with disaster relief and community development entities including the United States Military Southern Command (SouthCom), agencies of the European Union, and several cities and organizations in France and Belgium.
6. The South is a significant “breadbasket” for the whole country and for high-value export products such as coffee and mangoes whose farmers will need assistance to prepare for a full year of agricultural productivity, harvest and shipment.
HRDF has three major thrusts in the South:
Systematic and continuing assessment of medical and health care needs with status report to donors, suppliers and relief workers. For example, recent field visits earlier this month to the Hôpital in Croix des Bouquets, the Hôpital ….. in Petit-Goâve and the Hôpital Immmaculée Conception in les Cayes, has brought major pledges of equipment worth more than one million dollars for those three hospitals.
Community emergency response teams (CERTS). These are nine-day professional training sessions in each communal section that need to be followed by distribution of equipment and team assignments. HRDF initiated its HRDF-CERTS program in Aquin last year and has secured the support of Florida State Emergency Management Division as partner.
“Ecological sweat equity” for environmental refugees – People fleeing Port-au-Prince and other damaged areas need shelter and tools to resettle in safe areas and reestablish their lives. For this, HRDF has proposals for ecological restoration and disaster preparedness, vocational training in agriculture and fishery management for coastal zone cities. Partners include Cités Unies France and the Department des Hauts de Seine, France.