Caritas feeding 50,000 in Haiti
26 January 2010
Caritas Haiti and CRS, in partnership with church aid agencies from around the world, have begun to deliver almost 100 tonnes of food to Port-au-Prince this week to feed at least 50,000 people in one of the city’s biggest camps, Petionville Club.
Caritas aid distribution in Haiti.
CRS is a Caritas member in the USA with an office in Haiti.
Working in a joint response to the earthquake of almost two weeks ago, the Caritas agencies have already brought food, water, medical and other supplies to more than 25,000 people. But the needs remain great, and logistics, communication and security have been serious challenges.
The public has donated over US $60 million (Euro 45 million) so far to Caritas members worldwide.
Before this disaster, Haiti had very poor infrastructure. Caritas says it was not possible to have the amount of resources required to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people overnight. But Caritas Haiti had stocks that were already pre-positioned in their warehouses, which enabled them to respond to the crisis within a short matter of hours.
They were also able to bring in at least 40 truckloads so far from neighbouring Dominican Republic, and receive supplies via a severely damaged port.
Almost two weeks after the devastating earthquake, people are becoming more desperate for food, but the constant flow of helicopters carrying crates over the city show that aid is getting through.
Caritas partners needed to ensure that all distribution sites were safe before the distribution began, especially in larger camps with many people such as at the Petionville Club. It is also a concern that those most in need of help, such as the elderly and the injured, could be overwhelmed by people from outside the area coming in and demanding food. Caritas needed to ensure that the necessary measures to make sure both beneficiaries and staff were safe.
In Petionville, all beneficiaries were given coloured tickets depending on which part of the camp they lived in. On Monday, those in the yellow quadrant were given their supplies; on Tuesday, the red quadrant will get theirs. By Friday, 50,000 people will have received rations of lentils, vegetable oil and bulgur, a whole-grain, high fibre wheat.
“Communications with beneficiaries is so important in distributions like this,” says CRS (a Caritas member in the USA) emergency response leader Donal Reilly said. “So as to avoid confusion and the risk of unrest, they need to be told exactly what is happening, what they will receive and when.”
Caritas says the policy has paid off. People queued in line quietly, respectful of each other and the aid workers and volunteers there to help.
There is a long way to go but the distribution at Petionville is a significant stone in large ocean of need.
Please contact Conor O'Loughlin, International Humanitarian Communications Officer for Trócaire (Caritas Ireland), in Port-au-Prince as part of the Caritas relief efforts.
Phone: M+353 86 2071942 or 00353 86 607 4327 Skype: coloughlin Email: COLoughlin@trocaire.ie