Over the last 12 months, since Hurricane Matthew, CBM and partners have been working to ensure that persons with disabilities and other more at-risk community members in Haiti and Cuba are able to rebuild their lives.
On 4 Oct 2016, Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm - the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade - which devastated coastal areas in many parts of the country, with the cities of Les Cayes and Jérémie experiencing especially hard-hit.
Official figures say 2.1 million people were affected and 1.4 million were left in need of humanitarian assistance. The storm also ravaged Cuba's eastern provinces before moving north, and was considered the strongest recorded hurricane ever to hit Guantánamo.
CBM Emergency Response Unit, in close collaboration with our Haiti Country Coordination Office and local partners, implemented a response that aimed to fully include persons with disabilities and other more at-risk community members.
Inclusive response with eye on long-term recovery
In Haiti, CBM set up temporary field bases, hired new teams of staff and developed all the coordination mechanisms to support them. Major logistical challenges resulting from poor and hurricane-damaged infrastructure slowed the implementation of activities, but despite the difficulties a comprehensive and inclusive nine-month strategy in Haiti was developed.
The broad objective was to ensure that people in the affected population, including persons with disabilities and their families, are able to access relief aid, psychosocial support and recover their livelihoods, and consists of two main tracks:
- Community-based protection and psychosocial support
- Rebuilding lives and services
In Cuba, we supplied affected people with portable water filter units, essential to allow decentralised provision of clean water.
The Haiti projects were initially planned to finish by mid-August 2017 but, for various reasons, some have been extended to at least end of September and two reconstruction projects are expected to continue until the end of the year. The CBM Haiti Country Office is also in the process of developing longer-term work. This is looking to increase access to livelihood for the most-marginalised people, strengthen links between persons with disabilities and community services - using and building the capacity of Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs), and improve disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures. These initiatives match the ongoing development strategy and maximise the impact of the emergency response and early recovery.
By September 2017, CBM and partners have reached 21,243 people (more than 30% of whom are persons with disabilities).
Key achievements include:
- Temporary field bases were set up and running in Les Cayes & Jérémie, two of the most-affected areas
- Team of community and social workers (including persons with disabilities) and psychologist were hired
- Psychological First Aid (PFA) training was conducted for the whole team
- 6537 persons with disabilities (54% of whom are female) were identified for potential referral to providers of basic and specific services
- 13 service providing organisations were identified
- 29 psychosocial support groups were run, reaching 313 people with 133 of these referred for psychosocial counselling
- A consultant psychologist provided further guidance and training to the psychologist and social workers, and developed monitoring and reporting tools
- DPOs were involved in focus group discussions, consultations and advocacy
- Eight schools and/or rehabilitation centres have been (or are still being) supported in reconstruction and restocking equipment and materials
- Livelihood project reached more than 5000 people with seeds, livestock, training, cash for work, with unconditional cash transfer ongoing
- CBM Haiti Country Office and temporary field stations were equipped with the logistics and human resources to ensure seamless response and recovery
- More than 7000 people in Cuba have access to potable water and 114 were trained in the use of water filters
The WHO estimates 15% of the global population live with disability. In any emergency or disaster, people who live with some form of disability are disproportionally affected. Reasons for this include inaccessibility of warning messages and emergency shelters, loss and damage of assistive devices, disruption of support networks and increased difficulty in accessing basic humanitarian operations (food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care services). At the same time, emergencies can increase the number of people who experience disability, both short and long-term, due to injuries sustained and lack of effective medical services.
While aiming for disability inclusion, a CBM response will not focus solely on persons with disability. Rather, our emergency programmes target the whole community. CBM partners with many types of organisation, including Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) in our emergency activities, ensuring that persons with disabilities are actively involved and using their unique knowledge to build a fully inclusive response. Reaching and involving all of society in our work will ensure that effectiveness of our relief and early recovery processes is maximised and, leading on to longer-term interventions, will build sustainable inclusion and greater all-round resilience.