On 12 January 2010, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti killing an estimated 220,000 people.
After the quake there were 19 million cubic metres of rubble and debris in Port au Prince – enough to fill a line of shipping containers stretching end to end from London to Beirut.
Infrastructure and homes were destroyed, with almost 60% of Government and administrative buildings, 80% of schools in Port-au-Prince and 60% of schools in the South and West Departments destroyed or damaged.
3.5 million people were affected, with over 300,000 people injured and 1.5 million being made homeless.
BEFORE THE CRISIS
Haiti was 145th of 169 countries in the UN Human Development Index, the lowest in the Western Hemisphere
More than 70% of people in Haiti were living on less than $1 per day
86% of people in Port au Prince were living in slum conditions - mostly in tightly-packed, poorly-built, concrete buildings.
80% of education in Haiti was provided in often poor-quality private schools, the state system generally provided better education but provided far too few places
Half of people in Port-au-Prince had no access to latrines and only one-third has access to tap wate
Over 188,383 houses were badly damaged and 105,000 were destroyed by the earthquake (293,383 in total), 1.5m people became homeless
4,000 schools were damaged or destroyed
25% of civil servants in Port au Prince died
60% of Government and administrative buildings, 80% of schools in Port-au-Prince and 60% of schools in the South and West Departments were destroyed or damaged
Over 600,000 people left their home area in Port-au-Prince and mostly stayed with host families
At its peak, one and a half million people were living in camps including over 100,000 at critical risk from storms and flooding
Unrelated to the earthquake but causing aid response challenges was the outbreak of cholera in October 2010. By July 2011 5,899 had died as a result of the outbreak, and 216,000 were infected
Because there were so many poorly constructed concrete buildings prior to the quake, destruction of homes and infrastructure was enormous. This meant the most immediate needs were for emergency shelter and safe drinking water as well as health services for the hundreds of thousands injured.
After the initial response, DEC member charities looked to supporting families and communities longer term, with the response spanning three years rather than the usual two. Water supply systems were improved, assuring safe water for 340,000 people. Free medical care was provided to 39,000 people and five cholera treatment centres were provided with drugs to serve 18,000 people.
Improved homes and shelters were provided to 34,000 people and 60,000 vulnerable women attended literary classes. 116,000 people were trained in preparing for future disasters to help prevent a catastrophe on this scale ever being repeated.
Builders at work on a Tearfund project in Haiti. Image: Richard Hanson/Tearfund
Improving lives long-term
More than half a million people found themselves homeless following the earthquake. One of these people was Bernard Doussous, whose home was completely destroyed.
He, his wife, and their children managed to escape as their home collapsed around them and were forced to sleep outside for seven days. Bernard said of the experience: “On the day of the earthquake, my wife was in our tin house, and she ran out as fast as she could with the children. The house was completely crushed. After that we slept outside for seven days. We lost everything – our belongings and all our official documents.”
"I am so happy with the new house, so excited. I keep thanking God because it is like a miracle.”
DEC member charity CAFOD built sturdier and safer new houses. Bernard said of his new home: “I never thought we’d have a good house like this, but thanks to God we do.” His neighbour Casimir Jean Harrison also moved into one of the new houses, saying: “My previous house was made out of rocks. This building is more solid and the wind won’t blow it over. I am so happy with the new house, so excited. I keep thanking God because it is like a miracle.”
DEC funds helped to clear rubble and rebuild houses to be stronger and more resilient to future earthquakes. Image: Evelyn Hockstein/CARE
IMPROVING LIVELIHOODS AND FUTURES
Josette Dorleans used to sell fruit and vegetables from makeshift shelves at the side of the road. It was already a difficult way to make a living, but when the earthquake struck she was forced to use her stock to feed herself and her family.
A cash grant from DEC member the British Red Cross allowed her to start her business up again and continue providing for herself and her family.
In July 2012 the British Red Cross started an urban regeneration project working alongside the community in Delmas 19 region of Haiti. The community was invited to select representatives – including younger and older people, women and disabled, reflecting the diversity of the community – to form a committee, who together would decide their main priorities and needs.
The committee decided that improvements to infrastructure that would support livelihoods was a big priority and so construction began on a new marketplace. The works finished in December 2012, providing an improved place of business for 33 sellers including Josette.
“It is one of the best things the Red Cross has done for us. Even the rainy season can’t stop us selling our products now.”
DEC charities helped battle a cholera outbreak that claimed thousands of lives following the earthquake. Image: Richard Hanson/Tearfund
DEC APPEAL AND RESPONSE
After the first emergency response phase of aid delivery between January and July 2010, DEC charities also:
Improved the water supply of 340,000 people
Supplied drugs to five cholera treatment facilities serving 18,000 people
Provided free medical care to 39,000 people
Gave tools and seeds to help 23,000 people in farming households support themselves
Provided improved shelter for 34,000 people
Gave information to 116,000 people about preparing for future disasters
Ran literary classes for 60,000 vulnerable women to help them support themselves and their families
Trained camp committee members to defend 25,000 camp residents from forced eviction.
Read more about how funds were spent to help people affected by this disaster