Haiti, Three Years Later
Written by Doug Satre on January 12, 2013 in General
Three years ago today, a deadly earthquake crumbled cities and villages across Haiti, striking a devastating blow to a nation already struggling. Three hundred thousand people were killed, and a million more were left homeless.
Much has been written about Haiti’s struggles since the earthquake, including the shortcomings of the effort to rebuild Haiti after the earthquake—about money that was misspent by NGOs or promised by foreign governments and not delivered—and about the cholera outbreak caused by Nepali troops from the United Nations.
In many respects, this last year was even worse for Haiti than the year before: anti-government demonstrations, crime and kidnapping are on the rise, and Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy devastated the island. In the U.S. we didn’t hear much about Sandy and Isaac’s impact in Haiti, but it is estimated that in the southern part of the country, 70% of the agriculture was completely destroyed. As a result, food prices in Haiti have increased by 40% in the last four months and food shortages are expected to affect up to 5 million people in Haiti this year.
What does all this mean for the 70 plus communities where Plant With Purpose works? They, too, have been deeply affected by these tragedies—especially the recent hurricanes. We have been seeking out emergency funds to help farmers recover from the storms. In many ways life is harder in rural Haiti than ever before.
But, we have also been deeply encouraged by the impact Plant With Purpose’s program is having in rural Haiti. In the months after the earthquake, Plant With Purpose’s local Haiti staff was able to dramatically scale up the scope of the work due to funds raised from earthquake relief. This included planting 450,000 additional trees and building 360 linear miles of rock walls to conserve soil on steep hillside farms. These projects not only provided short-term employment for Haitians after the quake, they also saved many lives by preventing flooding and landslides after Hurricane Sandy.You can read the summary of our earthquake relief work here. After the earthquake and in the three years since, Plant With Purpose Haitian staff has empowered local farmers to improve their lives with great professionalism and skill.
Additional good news was received this last year, with the completion of our triennial impact evaluation. The evaluations revealed in areas where Plant With Purpose is working, water-borne illness was reduced by over 50% and cholera by over 60%.
While new sources focus on the failures—of governments, the UN and so on—its good to be reminded that there are many organizations doing good work that focuses on empowering Haitians to transform their own communities. These include the schools and orphanages run by Haiti Partners and the medical work of Partners in Health. In the coming year, Plant With Purpose Haiti is looking forward to dramatically increasing the scope of the Village Savings and Loan Association program, which is provides a safe and secure mechanism for Haitians to save money and access small business loans.
For those of you who have supported Plant With Purpose’s work in Haiti in recent years, please know how grateful we are for your partnership with us. Yes, there is a long way to go. But it is also true that, with God’s help, Plant with Purpose’s work is making a difference in the lives of thousands of Haitians struggling against tough odds to improve their communities.
Thank you again for your investment in their future.