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Around 600,000 people left the capital to find shelter and work in rural areas, mainly in their hometowns. But lack of opportunities to rebuild their lives in their hometown require them to return to the overcrowded camps in the capital Credits: Mathilde Magnier/Caritas

Around 600,000 people left the capital to find shelter and work in rural areas, mainly in their hometowns. But lack of opportunities to rebuild their lives in their hometown require them to return to the overcrowded camps in the capital
Credits: Mathilde Magnier/Caritas

Providing shelter to the many people who lost their homes in the earthquake remains a major challenge. Over a million people still live in makeshift settlements and camps around the capital Port-au-Prince. More than 250,000 houses were destroyed.

Over the last six months, Caritas provided emergency shelter or temporary homes to almost 160,000 people in Port-au-Prince and in rural areas. While things are starting to improve in the Léogâne area, the situation remains highly complex around Port-au-Prince.

Despite continuous clearing work, the rubble remaining in the streets considerably slows down reconstruction. The camps are so densely populated that no temporary houses can be built there. The problems are often worsened by unclear land ownership.

Only a few hundred semi-temporary shelters have been built in the capital so far. Ahead of the rainy season starting in June, inhabitants from unsafe camps had to be relocated.

While people in camps needed to be taken care of with emergency shelter materials such as tents and tarpaulins in the first months, heavy rains flooded these places and made distributions difficult.

Around 600,000 people left the capital to find shelter and work in rural areas, mainly in their hometowns in the Gonaïves and Grande Anse region as well as the central area of the country. Their arrival put a lot of pressure on these mostly poor rural areas, incapable of providing for the refugees needs.

Many of them, in lack of opportunities to rebuild their lives in their hometown, are now returning to the overcrowded camps in the capital. In order to slow down this influx of people into the capital, Caritas started setting up temporary shelter in rural areas.

Like most inhabitants of the small rural town Haute Lompré, located in the heights of Léogâne west of Port-au-Prince, Bolivar has been seriously affected by the earthquake.

Her little house and the small land parcel she and her husband used to grow cassava, peas and corn on have been completely destroyed. All there is left is a pile of rubble and soil. However, her future seems a bit less insecure since Caritas staff has started building semi-temporary housing in the area.

More than 100 of these little houses made of pinewood and iron roofs were set up around this area. They are the first out of roughly 160,000 temporary houses the international community has projected to build for hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims. Eventually, Caritas should build another 2,000 of them around Léogâne and Petit Goave.