“It was like a massive explosion had gone off”
Mauricio Tautiva, water, hygiene and sanitation advisor for Première Urgence Internationale has left for three weeks in Haiti to assess the urgent needs of the communities affected by Hurricane Matthew on 4th October 2016. In this article, he reports the difficult conditions that the Haitians are living in, especially in the most isolated areas of the country.
« I’ve already worked in Haiti as a humanitarian so I know the country well. On 10th October when I arrived, it was like a massive explosion had gone off. Where there used to be trees, there were only the trunks. The fields had disappeared. In the urban areas of the great Sud department several buildings were in ruins and in the rural areas nearly all of the houses and the culture had been destroyed.
The report is worrying. In the hills of the remotest areas of Haiti the rain has started. People have to flee their make-shift dwellings and seek refuge in very precarious shelters. Their plantations are almost completely decimated. A shopkeeper in the village of Marche Léon told me about the alarming increase in the price of food stuffs and the cost of transport. Many inhabitants are also quite concerned about the risk of displaced communities in urban areas and the creation of slums within the cities.
“In the remotest areas, cholera is spreading”
In the remotest areas, cholera is spreading and communities lack food. Many sources of drinking water are contaminated. It is crucial that the available drinking water facilities are restored quickly.
Première Urgence Internationale has sent trunks of medication to be used to carry out 1,000 medical consultations. As soon as we arrived, we set up a project to restore the healthcare facilities in the department of Jérémie.
We will also act quickly to provide support in the field of water, hygiene and sanitation in the cholera treatment centres. We are going to give out hygiene kits, organise activities to promote hygiene and the prevention of cholera, put chlorinating agents into the community water points and restore the drinking water facilities in the most isolated areas.
We’ve found that the need for housing is substantial, especially in the places where people live in wooden huts covered in sheet metal that were completely destroyed. In order to support these communities, we also want to set up activities to help restore emergency shelters and to distribute shelter kits so that the people can build themselves temporary accommodation”.