This report just in from Phillip Snyder, GLOW Ministries International–one of the local partners of HAPI in Haiti:
The seconds blur into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days. Shock and surprise in the quake zone, Haiti, meet us around nearly every corner. It is impossible to absorb the flood of sights, sounds, smells and expressions. The roller coaster of urgency is overwhelming while the slow crawl of response fogs up our hearts and eyes with frustration. Today is Saturday, February 6, 2010, nearly one month since the 7.3 earthquake demolished much of Port au Prince and the southern cities. Those of us here are living moment to moment. Loss of life and human suffering often become vague in a catastrophe of this magnitude. I personally extend my deepest sympathy to those of you who have suffered such loss. The trauma of this event will not soon be forgotten.
The death toll is now estimated at as high as 200,000, some 300,000 have been injured. An estimated 700,000 people are in need of immediate heath care. Close to a half a million people are living in spontaneous shelter areas (refugee camps) and sanitation is becoming a very alarming concern. Freshly dug latrines are often filled to capacity within days. Water seems to be getting out to people and is not a major issue at this time.
Approximately 2,000,000 are in need of food though. Organized food distribution points in Port au Prince are extremely congested further hindering food insecurity issues. Food insecurity outside of Port au Prince is becoming a concern as food prices have more than doubled since the earthquake. Cities outside of Port au Prince are receiving more and more refugees every day, overpopulation in rural areas will soon become an issue.
Air traffic is slowing to approximately 90 flights per day, down from 140, commercial air transportation is expected to resume soon. The port in Port au Prince is congested with around 900 containers on site, capacity is 2,000. Notice of arrival will be required for good coming in by sea. The border crossing from the Dominican Republic is congested, crossing the border is currently taking 2 hours. Automobile and truck traffic in Port au Prince is extremely congested.
GLOW First Response teams have partnered with 5 refugee camps and have worked tirelessly to help meet the needs in these camps. These people are living in makeshift shelters constructed of sticks, tarps and plastic. GLOW has helped dig latrines, provide water and food. Logistics are hindering but at maximum production we can provide up to 6,000 meals per day in the combined camps. The food we are providing has been acquired from our own sources, mostly food we had purchased for use in our school feeding programs. At the pace we are working we will have enough food to provide meals for 2 or 3 more days. Attempts to procure resources from the UN, USAID and the WFP have been fruitless and extremely frustrating.
The clock is ticking toward the rainy season. It is now imperative that the Haitian government take lead in this situation and begin setting up secure areas outside of Port au Prince. Sites must be considered which will provide space for large groups of people, shade and have proper drainage in case of heavy rains. Huge latrines should be dug in advance. Mass feeding stations complete with kitchens and ‘dining tents’ should be on site as well as convalescent care hospital facilities and schools. Five camps of this type with the capacity of serving 50,000 people each should have been under construction yesterday. “Build it and they will come.”
Vehicular traffic in Port au Prince should be limited to the most feasible minimal possible. Attempts should be made to bolster public transportation for all classes in an effort to minimize congestion and maximize relief response potential including demolition teams currently forming.
Many smaller NGO’s are standing by ready to help in capacities not considered feasible by the powers governing the control of relief supplies and support currently in Haiti. This is a crime against humanity. One of the greatest assets to this relief effort is and will be the established NGO community in Haiti. Although the response potential of the NGO community is “under consideration,” consideration is not enough. The community of smaller NGO’s could impact the relief efforts exponentially.
Haiti has experienced a catastrophe that has echoed around the world. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for disaster relief on her behalf. The majority of this money could very well be squandered and lost through inept and unscrupulous investment. It is our responsibility to see that this money is used effectively and wisely. Investment into widespread development throughout every province in Haiti is crucial right now. This could be the turning point towards a self sustaining future for Haiti. Only time will tell.
Phillip Snyder, GLOW Ministries International
GLOW Ministries International Haiti