As a clearer picture emerges of the devastation caused in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew, CAFOD has pledged £75,000 to support the vital humanitarian relief efforts of our Caritas partners. The UN estimates that around 900 people have died after the storm devastated Haiti last week. With winds of up to 145mph, floods and landslides destroyed tens of thousands of homes and left some 350,000 people in need of life-saving emergency aid.
Giovanna Reda, CAFOD's Head of Humanitarian for Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, said: "Our local, experienced Church partners on the ground have already been able to deliver emergency aid, such as food and drinking water to some of the most vulnerable people. The money pledged will support our local partners to continue this work and reach many more people in urgent need of life-saving emergency aid."
As the people of Haiti deal with the aftermath of one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the Caribbean in recent history, the extent of the damage to their homes and agricultural crops is becoming clear.
The southwest of the country is one of the worst affected areas, the hurricane pounded a largely rural corner with devastating winds, torrential rain and massive waves, cutting off mobile networks and a bridge connecting the south to the capital. Towns including Tiburon, Les Cayes, Jérémie, Miragoane and Jacmel felt the brunt of the storm's path, and flooding in some of these areas has been described as 'catastrophic.'
CAFOD's Senior Global Emergency Response Officer, Robert Cruikshank, will be heading out to Haiti to support our local partners. He spent several months in Haiti working with our local partners responding to the earthquake of 2010. He will be working with our partners to get more aid distributed.
"Our immediate response includes distribution of food and clean drinking water, as well as non-food item kits such as kitchen utensils, pots and pans, and hygiene kits which include soap and toothpaste and tooth brushes" says Robert Cruikshank.
"I will also be supporting our local partners to carry out rapid needs assessment. This is a vital part of ensuring that emergency aid goes to the people who need it most."
Cholera is now a major concern
New cholera cases have already been reported in Haiti and there are major fears that cholera will start to spread quickly, because of the enormous damage caused to water infrastructure. An expert in water and sanitation, Robert Cruikshank explains:
"Haiti already has a very fragile sanitation infrastructure, and faces an increase in waterborne diseases because wells, springs and latrines would have been destroyed. It will be vital to restore sanitation systems - toilets and washing facilities - and ensure strong hygiene messages are delivered to communities.
We must do everything to stop cholera spreading like wild fire."
Robert says that although the Haitian people have shown an amazing resilience, they will need a lot of support in the coming year to recover.
"Haiti's history is built on a resilient people, because of that resilience we must act to ensure that the people of Haiti and their pressing needs are not forgotten."
You can make a donation on the telephone by calling 0303 303 3030. Or by going to the CAFOD website: http://cafod.org.uk/News/Emergencies-news/Haiti-relief-effort