Locally-Driven Recovery Efforts Most Effective Means to Rebuild the Country in the Wake of Hurricane Matthew
NEW YORK – American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading Jewish international development organization, is raising funds for and working with local organizations in Haiti to support their response to the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Building on its track record of supporting grassroots organizations in Haiti for nearly 20 years, AJWS is funding local Haitian groups which are best positioned to lead recovery efforts from this storm, the most powerful to hit Haiti in more than half century.
“Survivors of the hurricane that we have met in Les Cayes are calling this powerful storm ‘their January 12th,’ which is the day in 2010 when a devastating earthquake killed nearly 300,000 people in Haiti,” said Nixon Boumba, who leads AJWS’s efforts in Haiti. “It is clear to me that Haitians are determined to avoid repeating the mistakes of earthquake relief by calling on the international community to support Haitian-led disaster response and recovery this time around instead of the kind of top-down disaster relief that undermines our economy and ability to respond. International aid must support the human rights of Haitian people and must include them in the processes of determining how to utilize international aid.”
“We are converting our sadness over the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew into action by turning to the American Jewish community to help Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere, and the Haitian people as they respond to yet another disaster,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of AJWS.
“Just as we did in the wake of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, we are supporting initiatives led by local Haitian organizations with whom we have existing relationships. We believe deeply in the capacity of Haitian organizations to identify the most effective ways to respond to the destruction brought by this powerful hurricane, and are confident that ensuring that local people lead the response is the key to success,” added Bank.
In order to ensure that recovery is led by Haitians, AJWS is prioritizing support to organizations that are well-established in their communities and will identify the needs of the most acutely affected. Among those AJWS is supporting are:
- Bureau des Droits Humains en Haiti (Office of Human Rights – BDHH): Located in Roche-a-Bateaux, a town in the south which was completely destroyed, BDHH will work with community groups and local government to help rebuild the town. With AJWS support, BDHH will distribute sheet metal for roofs for 35 homes which will provide homes to over 300 people. BDHH will also provide reconstruction support and it will distribute 300 hygiene kits to prevent water-borne diseases, and conduct awareness trainings on cholera.
- Gwoup Apui pou Devlopman Depatman Sid (Support Group for Development in the Southern Department – GADES): GADES’s members are living in shelters, which are overcrowded and lack toilets and other WASH facilities. With AJWS support, GADES will work with its members to make quick repairs to their homes so they can leave shelters as soon as possible. GADES will also purchase hygiene kits to be used to raise awareness about preventing water-borne diseases, such as cholera.
- Centro Para la Educación y el Desarrollo (Center for Education and Development – CEDUCA): Located in the Dominican Republic along the border of Haiti, CEDUCA will support communities of young Dominicans of Haitian Descent in the Dominican Republic whose homes and belongings have been destroyed by floodwaters. With AJWS support, CEDUCA will provide basic foodstuffs to approximately 200 families and support farmers with cleaning and replanting. CEDUCA will raise awareness about community health and disease prevention through community awareness talks, the distribution of 2000 leaflets and three weeks of home visits.
AJWS urges all international aid organizations to support directly Haitian national and local organizations and provide flexible support to promote sustainable rebuilding and prevention efforts. In this regard, AJWS’s grantmaking in Haiti is different than most disaster relief organizations for the following reasons:
- AJWS does not send Americans to do the crucial work of recovery and crisis management;
- AJWS supports local organizations to bolster their homegrown efforts to rebuild;
- AJWS focuses on long-term recovery and seeks out the most vulnerable populations affected; and
- AJWS has existing relationships with organizations in Haiti and an in-country representative who is Haitian.
As the people of Haiti face a very challenging rebuilding process, it is more important than ever to ensure that this recovery is driven by local people. Only Haitians can make the changes necessary to make their country whole again and AJWS is proud to work with and support these determined organizations.
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