Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake magnitude 7.0 just before 5pm on Tuesday, 12 January. The earthquake struck 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince, the densely populated capital city. The level of destruction and loss of life is not yet fully understood, but early reports suggest loss of life, livelihoods and homes on a devastating scale.

Haiti Earthquake

Since the earthquake of January 12, 2010, CHF International has been working hard, partnering with Haitian communities to help them recover from the devastating effects of the disaster and the challenges they have faced since then. As of January 2011, we have managed to:
  • Build over 4,500 transitional shelters, housing over 22,500 Haitians in sanitary, safe conditions. 
  • Remove over 480,000 cubic meters of debris. 
  • Employ nearly 15,000 Haitians in cash-for-work programs. 
  • Clear 136 schools and other key sites such as roads, canals and public building so that rebuilding and reconstruction can take place. 

CHF has been able to build so many shelters because we have focused not on building camps, but on returning Haitians to their original communities and maintaining community cohesion. CHF demolishes damaged homes and builds shelters in their place. By keeping communities together, crime and violence are reduced and people are able to continue the job they had before. This is at the core of CHF’s vision of community-based development.

Our commitment to Haiti goes far beyond a response to immediate needs, to genuine redevelopment and long-term sustainable thinking. When the needs in Haiti disappear from the front pages and the headlines, the Haitian people will still need help. We will still be there to provide it and to partner with the communities to help them direct their lives and livelihoods.

Earthquake Recovery Activities

With a presence in Haiti since 2006 and 180 staff already on the ground, CHF was able to respond immediately in the aftermath of the January 12th, 2010 earthquake.

Heavy Machinery Rubble Removal

CHF has been partnering with Caterpillar-Haytrac in Haiti since before the earthquake, jointly running a vocational training program to train Haitian Caterpillar operators. We are working with Caterpillar-Haytrac now to remove large amounts of rubble from roads, canals and public buildings on a daily basis, employing graduates of the CHF-Caterpillar vocational training program and training more operators. Additionally, as part of this process, we have retrieved important public records such as the archives of the Ministry of Education and the main Cathedral.

Cash-for-Work Rubble Removal Teams

Creating employment is vital. Haiti has an unemployment rate estimated around 70% and this has been increased by the destruction. CHF will employ approximately 16,000 day laborers for a minimum of 20 days each, to clear rubble in rubble removal teams. The teams are of 12 laborers, equipped with tools and safety training, and paid 200 gourdes a day (approx $5). We aim for 40% of the laborers to be women. CHF provides laborers with basic health insurance and vaccinations.

Shelter

We will be building or improving up to 6,000 shelters for Haitian families. CHF’s transitional shelters are made of a wooden structure and a special plastic sheeting, and requires approximately 4 skilled people and 3-4 community helpers to build. The building has a slanted roof with a gutter, so that rain water can be recycled for drinking, and we are looking into including solar lamps to upgrade the shelters. The size of the shelter responds to international standards of 3.5 square meters per person. 

Where a Haitian family has an existing good quality shelter, we can also provide them with a kit of construction equipment and training to enable them to make their shelter safe, sanitary and resistent to the climate.

Jobs Creation

Working with our offices throughout Haiti, we are undertaking infrastructure projects such as road building, canal clearing and school construction that create short term cash-for-work jobs for people in these sectors and teach them new skills. We are also continuing our long term jobs creation plans, both in Port au Prince and around Haiti, in sectors such as garments and agriculture.