Six months after Hurricane Matthew, CBM response is ensuring that persons with disabilities and other more at-risk community members in Haiti and Cuba are able to rebuild their lives.
Most powerful storm in ten years
On 4 Oct 2016, Haiti was hit by the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade. Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm, 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, has implemented a response which includes persons with disabilities and other more at-risk community members.
Inclusive response with eye on long-term recovery
In Haiti, CBM has had to 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 have slowed the implementation of activities, but despite the difficulties a comprehensive and inclusive nine-month strategy in Haiti has been developed.
The broad objective is 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. The first phase consists of two main tracks:
- Community-based protection and psychosocial support
- Rebuilding lives and services
In Cuba, we are supplying affected people with portable water filter units, essential to allow decentralised provision of clean water.
As the response develops, new and existing staff are being trained and equipped to implement the activities. At the same time, CBM is ensuring its Haiti Country Office has the capacity to deal with these new challenges and opportunities, and that the response and recovery work lays a strong foundation for longer-term strategies.
By 14th March 2017, CBM and partners had reached 11,615 people. Key achievements include:
- Temporary field bases 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 is in place
- 3370 persons with disabilities (50% of whom are female and 9% of whom are children) have been identified for potential referral to providers of basic and specific services
- Psychological First Aid (PFA) training has been conducted for whole team
- Five psychosocial support groups are running, with more than 70 cases identified for referral while 44 people have received psychosocial counselling
- DPOs are involved in focus group discussions, consultations and advocacy
- Rehabilitation centre support and referral system has been started
- Negotiations to provide reconstruction support to three specialised education centres/schools in the affected areas are ongoing
- Livelihood project has started in time for planting season: 70 families so far have received seeds, tools and had their land cleared, plus 100 people have received cash for work in doing these activities
- CBM Haiti Country Office and temporary field stations are equipped with the logistics and human resources to ensure seamless response and recovery
- 7429 people in Cuba have access to potable water and 114 have been trained in the use of the 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.