Following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on August 14, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns that access to health care and safe water is crucial.
Damaged water systems harm around 212,000 people, limiting their access to safe drinking and hygiene water and placing them at risk of water-borne infections.
The IFRC's Head of Operation in Haiti, Felipe del Cid, said:
“The damage assessments carried out by the Haitian Red Cross and the IFRC show that there are severe health, water, sanitation, and hygiene needs. Providing health care, guaranteeing access to safe water, and promoting hygiene is vital at this stage of the humanitarian response. It can prevent disease outbreaks and save lives.”
The Haitian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have given water and hygiene kits to 2,115 families in the Nippes and Sud departments in response to health care and hygiene requirements. They also received tarpaulins, blankets, and kitchen supplies, among other things. The IFRC and its network had already sent 199 tonnes of relief goods to Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. It is then transferred by road, air, or sea to the afflicted areas.
The earthquake response focuses on preventing the spread of waterborne infections by providing access to safe water and encouraging people to practice good hygiene. In the rural location of L'Asile, the Red Cross has already erected two water plants. These plants will provide 40,000 people with 60,000 gallons of safe, clean water per day. In the next weeks, more plants will be installed, starting with one in Grand'Anse.
“More distributions are planned during the coming weeks, despite the challenging context. Delivering humanitarian aid is a complex task due to factors such as damaged roads, food insecurity, the COVID-19 pandemic, and sociopolitical instability,” added del Cid.
There's also a higher chance of contracting vector-borne infections and respiratory diseases like COVID-19. This is due to a combination of displacement, inadequate shelter options, and a shortage of safe water. To reduce the danger of epidemics, the Red Cross promotes public health measures, such as COVID-19 protection.
The President of the Haitian Red Cross, Dr. Guiteau Jean-Pierre, said:
“Haiti is facing overlapping crises: the pandemic, the earthquake, and the pre-existent humanitarian needs. In coordination with the authorities, communities, partners, and stakeholders, the Red Cross will continue to work tirelessly to help and prepare the most vulnerable communities. Another potential emergency could be life-threatening for them.”
The situation in the afflicted villages could deteriorate considerably further in the next weeks and months, as Haiti is certain to be hit by more weather-related calamities. The hurricane season in the Caribbean spans from June 1 to November 30, with the peak months being August and October. The humanitarian teams on the ground are assisting the Haitian Red Cross in their disaster preparedness efforts.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released funds from its disaster relief fund (DREF) and issued an emergency appeal for 10 million Swiss francs to continue delivering life-saving humanitarian aid and aid in the earthquake recovery.