The emergency operations of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) in the wake of the earthquake that struck Haiti on 14 August have ended. Activities on the ground have helped restore access to drinking water, deliver relief materials and assess the structural integrity of the buildings to avoid any danger of collapse in various towns. This aid has reached more than 20,000 people. The Swiss Cooperation Office, which has long been active in the country, is taking over its duties and will continue its supporting projects on a long-term basis.
Switzerland responded immediately with emergency aid following the earthquake that struck the Caribbean island on August 14. In addition to the members of the SHA, which is part of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), who were sent from Bern, the Swiss Embassy in Port-au-Prince quickly mobilized its team on the ground, thanks to the existing project office in the Directorate of the South of the country. In total, about twenty people worked closely with the national and local authorities to meet the needs of the population.
Drinking water, shelter and building safety
For three weeks, Swiss experts worked to restore access to drinking water. They installed water tanks for 10,000 people in several places on the island. Tank trucks secured drinking water for various locations. At the same time, SHA engineers assessed the damage to several public buildings (schools, churches, local authority offices) to check for collapse risk.
Staff from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Finance have delivered more than 2,700 tarpaulins to the municipal authorities of Port Salute, Port-a-Paint and Chardonnay, who are already in Port Salute in the west of the country. . These materials were kept in stock in case they were needed. Together, these operations have helped more than 20,000 people.
In total, Switzerland allocated over 4 million Swiss francs to respond to needs in the aftermath of the earthquake (1 million Swiss francs in emergency aid and 3 million Swiss francs through reprogramming of the activities of the Swiss Agency for Sustainable Development). Of this amount, 500,000 Swiss francs were provided to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United Nations in response to their calls for funding. In addition, two Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation experts assisted the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) mission in Haiti.
Long-term support for reconstruction
The end of emergency assistance from SHA does not mean, in the least, the end of Swiss support for Haiti. The Caribbean island is a priority country for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The development cooperation programs will succeed the activities of the emergency response phase and the projects will be adapted to meet the new needs caused by the earthquake. The Swiss Cooperation Office will support long-term projects in cooperation with local residents and institutions. It is already planning to rebuild the water and sanitation infrastructure with sustainable and participatory financing.
After Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in 2016, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation facilitated the construction of 320 homes using local technologies. All of these homes withstood the earthquake last August, saving 1,600 lives. The four community shelters constructed during this period sheltered 1,000 people. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation plans to widely disseminate earthquake-resistant construction methods in cooperation with local authorities.
FDFA Federal Communications Palace West Wing CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland Tel. Telecom service: +41 58462 31 53Tel. Press service: +41 58460 55 55
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