[Port-au-Prince] – The U.S. Embassy in Haiti announces the launch of disaster preparedness measures at the start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. The United States Government, through USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance’s offices of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Food For Peace (FFP), is ramping up disaster preparedness in support of the Directorate for Civil Protection’s (DPC) mandate to ensure Haiti is ready for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season – which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. As part of DPC efforts, USAID/OFDA and FFP have put together a wide coalition of key United Nations and non-governmental partners in Haiti to launch a U.S. Government response within 24 hours of a storm’s impact.
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Michele Sison, stated: “Current forecasts indicate that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will have above average storm activity. Combined with the threat of COVID-19, we are preparing to help Haiti in the event of a significant storm. We encourage the Haitian government and all Haitians to make all possible preparations.” The U.S. Embassy highlights the following USAID/OFDA and USAID/FFP hurricane preparedness activities:
- In light of COVID-19, USAID/OFDA just granted The International Organization for Migration (IOM) $2.5 million for these important activities and to support the DPC leadership role in supporting technical capacity and filling operational gaps.
- IOM stockpiles of emergency relief supplies, including hygiene kits, plastic sheeting, water containers, blankets, and shelter repair kits for more than 50,000 individuals in strategic locations throughout Haiti – Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes, Gonaïves, and Cap.
- USAID is providing $13.2 million to help Haiti respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This assistance will support risk communication efforts, improved water and sanitation, infection prevention, COVID-19 case management, laboratories, and more. Over the last 20 years, the United States has invested nearly $6.7 billion in assistance, including $1.8 billion in health assistance in Haiti for HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and more.
- The UN World Food Program (WFP) is prepared to transport relief commodities in Haiti via sea and road, ensuring an uninterrupted pipeline of humanitarian supplies. Additionally, WFP maintains a USAID funded contingency stockpile of approximately 4,000 metric tons of food sufficient to meet the needs of approximately 300,000 people with a 30-day ration of rice, pulses, and vegetable oil.
Additional, NGO partners – Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Red Cross Societies, World Concern Development Organization (WCDO) and more will provide support including repairing and rehabilitating evacuation centers in 100 communities across Haiti, maintaining a network of 10,000 volunteers on the ground that can be activated to support the DPC response in the event of a disaster.
Since 2010, after the earthquake, Haiti has also experienced several other natural disasters – Hurricane Sandy (2012), Hurricane Matthew (2016) and drought caused by El Niño (2018-2019). USAID/FFP contributed $27.7 million in emergency food assistance to respond to the El Niño-induced drought in FY 2018 and $27.8 million in FY 2019. The emergency assistance addressed immediate humanitarian needs in areas severely affected by the drought, such as La Gonâve, North West, North East, Central Plateau, South and South East departments. Disaster risk reduction and communal asset creation activities were implemented, contributing to recovery efforts while building resilience for future stocks.
USAID/Haiti Mission Director, Christopher Cushing noted, “As we prepare for hurricane season during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, USAID’s essential development and life-saving work will continue in Haiti. Our disaster response experts will monitor storms as they develop and our local partners will educate and provide assistance to Haitian communities so they know what to do when the next storm hits.” The U.S. Government through USAID is committed to helping Haitian communities in need and ensuring that emergency supplies and rapid response funds are immediately available. Learn more about Haiti and 2020 hurricane preparedness in the Caribbean region at: https://goo.gl/Zivd5S.