Written by Christi Huizenga on October 19, 2016 in General, News & Events
Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall in Haiti at 7:00 a.m. on October 4, 2016. Plant With Purpose partners with farming families across the country, helping them to restore their land, sustainably improve their farms, produce more food, build resilient economic opportunities, and grow in hope and faith. Plant With Purpose farming families have been working for several years to improve the resilience of their farms and surrounding lands. We are hopeful that Plant With Purpose families will weather this storm. However, Hurricane Matthew has the potential to cause large landslides to already vulnerable lands, destroy crops, and leave families in need.
Please join us in responding to the situation in Haiti. There are a few ways you can help.
- Pray. Join us in praying for Haiti. We are praying for stability and hope for families across the country. Sign up for the Plant With Purpose monthly prayer letter to receive regular updates.
- Give. Donate today to help build strong, resilient farms and communities. Help us restore the land and equip families to be strong and resilient in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather.
10/19/2016 at 3:00 p.m.
This brief narrative from Director of International Programs John Mitchell provides an update on the situation of our partners in Haiti and has been reviewed by Haiti country director Guy Paraison, Technical Director Bob Morikawa, and Latin America Programs Officer Milmer Martinez.
Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti on October 4 and reports from our colleagues on the ground started coming immediately in the form of pictures and general impressions based on field visits and first hand accounts. By October 8 a modified assessment tool was developed to give a more statistical basis for designing an appropriate program response. With data coming in piecemeal due to mobility and connectivity limitations, and with methodology clarifications and analysis performed remotely within two weeks, we can state the following findings with confidence.
Based on telephone reports within the first 24 hours, three of the four regions where we work in Haiti (Fonds Verettes, Grand Colline and Cornillon) were considered to be badly affected by the hurricane and likely to warrant emergency response programming.
On the fourth, fifth, and sixth days following the hurricane our field staff carried out 50 interviews/questionnaires in each of the three regions. The survey questionnaire was modified from the earlier emergency response efforts following the earthquake in 2010. Survey participants were randomly selected but an effort was made to get a wider sense of the damage by including both regular program participants and non-participants and by including no more than 5 respondents from each of 10 communities. Communities were all places where Plant With Purpose was working prior to the hurricane. Data was entered digitally on days 8, 9 and 10 following hurricane Matthew and discussed/analyzed on days 11, 12, 13.
Additionally, regional staff conducted community leader interviews. In Fonds Verrettes 25 leaders were interviewed, Cornillon 23, and in Grande Colline 31. This helped us to get a more general, encompassing perspective. This data set served as a point of triangulation for reported damage by households.
- No fatalities reported in any of our usual working areas. One person was reported lost in Kanje, Bainet.
- 6% of households reported injuries while 40% reported someone with cold/flu. Also elevated levels of fever at 22%
- 33% of households reported damage to home and 22% lost roofing or experienced other serious damage
- Most households (71%) reported trees blown over. 65% reported fallen avocado trees, 26% citrus. On average 7.7 trees destroyed per respondent.
- In the immediate aftermath 95% of households reported that their access road was impassable due to damage
- Of great concern is the extensive damages to staple crops. 75% report damage to pigeon peas, 79% to beans and 89% to bananas.
- Data so far does not show that participants suffered less damage than non-participants.
- 99% of households reported financial losses from hurricane damage.
- Grand Colline (including Bainet) appears to have more severe damage (houses destroyed, animals killed/lost and crops damaged)
Lastly, we are getting new information about changes in food prices as we monitor local market days. First to report from Cornillon indicates that the average increase in a bundle of daily essentials is 11% increase in the two weeks since the hurricane.
10/12/2016 at 2:44 p.m.
On Monday, four teams of ten people each began work on the road from St. Etienne to Cherident. They worked to restore half of a kilometer near Lonpre. Yesterday that team was expanded to five groups of ten people, who cleared 1.2 kilometers.
To facilitate communications, we have asked Taylor Pizzuto, who was serving with us as a communications fellow in the Dominican Republic, to move to Haiti and help us with updates, and reports. He arrived in Port au Prince today and we expect his first report later today.
Survey work continued as well. We still have not heard any news of fatalities, despite some rumors. Most of the loss of life was farther west than where we work. However, we are seeing terrible destruction, like this church in Boucan Chatte, where a couple of our village savings groups meet. The first set of pictures are of the church just over a week ago, during one of our meetings, and the second set was taken last Friday.
However the real destruction has been to the food supply – crops that people were depending on are badly damaged. Yesterday, I spoke with a friend who is originally from the village of Kavanac, near Grande Colline. He said, “Fortunately we didn’t have any death, but the damages are very considerable. I wonder what people in the community will eat in the following 3 months.”
I pray that we can help to answer that question. We hope to provide cash-for-work for the next several months so that people will be able to buy food. However, for that to happen we will need to raise considerably more money than we have to date.
10/12/2016 at 9:37 a.m.
I have time for just a quick update today.
We still have no reports of fatalities in the communities where Plant With Purpose has been working, which is a blessing. However, crop loss has been extensive. Guy has been working on getting a complete list of damages, which includes injuries, damage to homes, loss of crops, and loss of livestock. We work with 40,000 people in Haiti, so this list is long.
Yesterday Guy organized a work party, which is hard at work repairing the road to Grand Colline. We are paying people for their work with the money we are raising right now, so they will have money to buy food. He is giving preference to the most vulnerable families in the hiring process.
This system of cash-for-work is one of the most effective ways of getting food to people without undercutting the local farmers and merchants with food to sell.
In the meantime, we have a lot more pictures to share.
10/7/2016 at 11:29 p.m.
Hurricane Matthew was the biggest storm to strike Haiti in 52 years. It destroyed thousands of homes and farms and killed more than 800 people. The damage reports are just coming in and the toll is expected to increase. The storm has made lives of rural Haitians much, much worse, as torrential rain caused widespread flooding and mudslides on Haiti’s steep and deforested hills. Even worse, this storm comes on the heels of a five-year drought in Haiti, which caused widespread food insecurity. The best hope for a good harvest has been destroyed and hunger will be a big problem in the months ahead.
Plant With Purpose is already responding. Our local Haiti team is reaching out to affected communities, working through well-established community relationships to clear impassable roads and quickly begin the process of helping farming families rebuild their farms and lives.
The families we work with are some of the hardest working and resilient people you can imagine and they will find a way to move forward. But this has been a huge setback and Plant With Purpose cannot idly stand by when so many people we have come to love and work alongside are hurting.
Our immediate goal is to raise $100,000 in order to:
• Help impacted families access seeds to replant crops lost in the storm
• Hire workers to build 15 miles of soil conservation barriers
• Plant 25,000 trees to replace damaged trees and build environmental resilience
Read about helping Haiti to recover from Hurricane Matthew.
10/5/2016 at 11:29 p.m.
I spoke with Guy early Wednesday evening.
He had just returned from driving out to Cherident. The road was a mess, but he was able to make it as far as Meyer with some difficulty. The video I shared earlier shows the road near the Plant With Purpose office. They had to move downed trees and use rocks to fill in gullies caused by the rain. It took him two hours to get from St. Etienne to Cherident. People said his was the first car to come through.
He saw lots of downed trees, homes without roofs, and badly damaged crops. Avocadoes, corn, and beans were all in bad shape. He also passed two of the program tree nurseries that were completely destroyed.
The good news is that he has not heard of any deaths in the area. All of the staff is safe and accounted for. Although he saw a lot of dead animals, even livestock loss may be less than we originally feared.
In Cherident, the roof and one of the walls of the school had been blown off, and the cistern had blown off of the roof our office. However, there did not appear to be too much damage to the clinic.
The big challenges will come in the days ahead. After two years of drought, food security has already been an issue throughout Haiti, and now with severe crop loss, hunger is a real problem.
In the past our soil conservation measure – rock barriers, contour canals, and living barriers have gone a long way towards preventing crop loss. We are hopeful that the farmers we work with will be more resilient, with both their soil conservation and their savings. Nonetheless, we will need to take steps to ensure that people are able to get enough to eat. This will mostly likely be in the form of a cash for work program.
One of the most immediate orders of business will be to organize people to repair the road so that tap taps and other vehicles can get through. (This was also the first thing that our local staff organized after the earthquake in 2010.) This will probably be set up as a cash for work program to get some money into the pockets of those who have lost crops.
Guy will also be working to survey the surrounding communities, and to find out more information about the situation further down the road, and especially in the coastal communities of Bainet and Breziliyen, which were more exposed and likely suffered more damage.
10/5/2016 at 4:05 p.m.
Guy, Plant With Purpose’s Haiti country director, made it to Grande Colline this afternoon with some difficulty. He is hoping to give us a report this afternoon when he gets back to Port au Prince, but it has been a long day for him and it isn’t over yet.
See the video on Plant With Purpose’s Facebook page.
10/5/2016 at 11:06 a.m.
This is the first picture we have received of the impact in Fonds-Verrettes. It was taken this morning on the farm of Camene Novembre, a member of the Akolad VSLA in Terre Froid.
These bananas represent a devastating loss.
We are still waiting for news from Grande Colline and Bainet, which were more directly in the path of the storm. All of the farmers will need help to recover.
Donate here: plantwithpurpose.org/donate.
10/4/2016 at 10:54 p.m.
We spoke with Guy again this afternoon. He said that it was still raining hard in Croix de Bouquets. He had been able to get no news from Grande Colline or Bainet. They are not answering their phones, and the roads are still impassable. Following things on Twitter it appears that a couple of bridges are down on the highway so he may not be able to get there right away; however, he will try to contact them via phone or text again in the morning.
Our regional coordinator in Cornillion sent us this video in which he is bravely attempting to show how the soil erosion control barriers are making a difference. As you can see it is still not easy to do much.
In ordinary times, one of the biggest problems that Haitian farmers face is the loss of topsoil and the rapid runoff of rainwater. To combat this, we work with them to create erosion control barriers of various kinds – the construction of contour canals, rock barriers and living barriers which make use of trees and grasses to stabilize the hillsides.
During catastrophic events such as a hurricane, one of the biggest dangers is mudslides and flooding. During these times, these same barriers often become lifesavers. In 2012 following Hurricane Sandy, the Plant With Purpose farmers suffered far less crop loss than their nonparticipating neighbors. Many who would have gone hungry had food to eat. It ended up being one of the most effective local advertisements we have ever had, and led to a dramatic increase in interest in the program.
I hope to have more news tomorrow.
If you want to help us respond go to plantwithpurpose.org/donate and write Haiti in the comments.
Letter from Scott Sabin, Executive Director of Plant With Purpose
10/4/2016 at 1:17 p.m.
Hurricane Matthew made landfall at 7:00 a.m. this morning, as a Category 4 just west of Les Cayes, Haiti. It is apparently the strongest hurricane to hit Haiti in 52 years. The storm has since moved over the Gulf of la Gonave, but will likely drop a lot more rain before it completely leaves Haiti.
I just got off the phone with Guy Pariason, the director of Plant With Purpose Haiti. He is in Croix de Bouquets near Port au Prince, but has been communicating with the regional directors by phone and text message.
This information is very incomplete right now. With the isolation of the communities we serve, it may take a few days to receive a full accurate picture of the damage. We are closely monitoring the situation and preparing a response.
Here are specific updates on the regions where we work:
Bainet, is located on the southern coast and closest to where the eye made landfall, has had flooding and landslides. Information is still incomplete, and I expect we will be hearing a lot more about damage and possibly loss of life.
The phones are apparently out and roads are impassable, so Guy has no concrete information.
Our regional director Smith reports that the wind is still very violent and there has been a lot of rain. Many farmers have lost crops—particularly bananas and beans. Also, many of the tree nurseries have been destroyed. However, the contour canals and soil erosion barriers have been effective in reducing soil erosion and crop destruction.
There has been a lot of rain but no specific reports of damage yet.
ACUL DU NORD:
Acul du Nord is furthest from the center of the storm. It has experienced mostly rain and wind at this point. We had been planning on holding a training seminar on ecological latrines led by Jorge from Plant With Purpose Mexico this week. At least one Plant With Purpose partnering farmer has arrived for the event, but we had to delay the training until we know more about the situation.
Thanks for your prayers. I will keep updating this through the day and week as more information becomes available.
Please join us in praying for Haiti. Also, we could use your help as we respond to the situation. Strong winds, landslides, and other devastation have the potential to destroy farms and set families back into poverty. Plant With Purpose’s programs are specifically designed to help families better weather storms like this. We are hopeful, but there is a lot of work to be done in the broader communities where we work.
If you wish to donate you can go to our online donation page and write Haiti in the comments section.
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