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Archives for Disaster Relief

Haiti: The First Year of the USG’s Long-Term Commitment

By: Paul Weisenfeld, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Latin American and the Caribbean
Photo of Amelia

Seven-year-old Amelia bears a scar from where a concrete block struck her during the earthquake. She is a student at Ecole Marie Dominique Mazzarello in Port-au-Prince, which has temporary classrooms built as part of the PHARE program of USAID. Photo Credit:Kendra Helmer/USAID

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, it’s important to reflect on the lives lost and shattered by this devastating tragedy. But we should also remind ourselves of the commitment of the Haitian people and the international community to rebuilding the country. I was privileged for much of the past year to lead USAID’s Haiti Task Team, charged with coordinating reconstruction efforts in Washington. Seeing Haitians pick themselves up and dedicate themselves to rebuilding their lives after having suffered so dramatically was inspirational. Seeing my colleagues at USAID and other agencies work long hours away from their families and under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to begin the process of recovery and reconstruction was a source of pride. Anyone who has traveled to Haiti over the past year has heard countless stories of heroes that are etched in our minds.

2010 was a year of multiple challenges for Haiti, which suffered not only the earthquake, but also Hurricane Tomas and a dangerous cholera outbreak that continues to threaten the lives and health of Haitians across the country. This is indeed a pivotal moment for the country. Haiti will eventually have a new government, and reconstruction efforts, which have been in the planning phase for many months, will soon begin apace. We are at a point where we will start to see real gains being made. This opportunity for progress is due in large part to the hard work of the Haitian people, with the support of the international community. Together with our U.S. Government colleagues and the international community, we’ve worked with the Government of Haiti to save lives, respond to urgent needs, and lay the foundation for real improvements in the quality of life in Haiti.

Over the past year, we’ve helped provide safer housing for almost 200,000 displaced Haitians; supported vaccinations for more than 1 million people; cleared more than 1.3 million cubic meters of the approximately 10 million cubic meters of rubble generated; helped more than 10,000 farmers double the yields of staples like corn, beans, and sorghum; and provided short-term employment to more than 350,000 Haitians, injecting more than $19 million into the local economy. We’ve provided nearly $42 million to help combat cholera, helping to decrease the number of cases requiring hospitalization and reducing the case fatality rate. By introducing innovations like mobile banking and vertical farming, we’re having a long-term impact on improving the lives of those we serve. We’re partnering with the Government of Haiti in all of our efforts, ensuring that what we do will be sustainable for years to come.

The U.S. Government has developed a robust and ambitious long-term development strategy for our work in Haiti that aligns with the Government of Haiti’s national development plan. Our strategy focuses on rebuilding four key areas: health, infrastructure, economic growth, and governance. We’re placing a priority on innovation and alliances with the private sector and ensuring that we operate responsibly and accountably. And while we will continue to work on rebuilding Port-au-Prince, we’re also encouraging decentralization by tackling poverty and other development challenges in population centers across the country.

Haiti faces a long and difficult road ahead, but we can take encouragement from the resilience and courage of Haitians themselves. During my many visits to Haiti, I’ve heard repeatedly from the Haitian people that they recognize the magnitude of the challenge of rebuilding their country, but because they are no strangers to struggle, they are prepared for the tough task ahead. Together with the rest of the U.S. Government, we at USAID are committed to fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to support the Haitian people’s efforts to rebuild over the long term.

U.S. Helps Flood-Affected Farmers in Pakistan

As featured in Dipnote

By: Alberto Rodriguez, Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan

During a ceremony held today, January 11, 2011, in Peshawar, officials from the government of Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KPk) and the United States marked the success of their partnership in providing high-quality wheat seeds to flood-affected farmers across the nation. The $62 million Agricultural Recovery Program includes $21 million dollars for KPk alone to help the province’s farmers recover from the floods of last summer.

USAID's program distributes seed packages to households throughout the country just in time for planting the Rabi crop. Photo Credit: Associated Press

The program distributed seed packages to households throughout the country just in time for planting the Rabi crop. If the farmers had not received seeds this fall, there would have been no wheat crop in 2011, depriving rural communities of their staple food and leaving many families in danger of poverty and hunger.

It also includes cash-for-work projects to clean and repair irrigation systems and provides farmers with much-needed vegetable seeds to quickly boost family nutrition. The program also provides supplementary feed and veterinary support for livestock to prevent disease outbreaks and offers overall support to ensure the agricultural health of KPk after the floods.

The program is a joint effort between the government of KPk and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and is being implemented by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, and Settlement Authority (PaRRSA) and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) identified villages and union councils in order to arrange the seed distribution, and worked tirelessly in the districts to train farmers and ensure efficient distribution.

“Over 1.3 million rural farming people have been provided food security as a result of this crucial program,” stated Ambassador Robin Raphel, the U.S. Coordinator for Economic and Development Assistance in Pakistan. “We are pleased to be able to help the Government of Pakistan provide these essential commodities to its citizens.”

USAID’s continued partnership with the government of Pakistan will help revitalize KPk’s agricultural resources and restore economic activity across the flood-affected areas of the province.

Learn more about flood disaster relief here.

2010: A Year in Review

With 2011 on the horizon, USAID looks at back at its accomplishments in 2010. Among them:

  • Supported the game-changing CAPRISA study, which in July provided the first ever proof of concept that a vaginal microbicide could safely and effectively reduce the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV from men to vulnerable women. Science Magazine recently named the CAPRISA study one of the top ten breakthroughs of 2010.
  • Piloted a groundbreaking mobile banking technology to increase Haitians’ access to much-needed financial resources following January’s devastating earthquake.
  • Provided shelter, food and medical supplies for the more than 20 million people affected by the floods in Pakistan this summer.
  • Assumed leadership of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s signature food security initiative, in December. USAID quickly established the Bureau for Food Security committed to addressing chronic hunger.
  • Announced the first recipients of Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) funds that will, among other outcomes, improve rural solar access and produce affordable, fuel-cell powered bicycles. The DIV promotes innovative and scalable solutions to core development challenges.
  • Launched a country-based strategic planning approach, with 20 Country Development Cooperation Strategies (CDCS) already underway. The CDCS will help the agency make evidenced-based decisions, prioritize investments, and hold itself accountable for results.

For more about USAID, please visit www.usaid.gov.

U.S. Provides Equipment To Female Health Workers in Pakistan

More than 1,500 Lady Health Workers who work in areas in the areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces in Pakistan will receive kits of basic equipment to help them as they offer vital health care services to families in their communities. This donation is part of the United States’ continuing support for Pakistan’s flood relief and recovery efforts.

Deputy USAID mission director Rodger Garner is speaking to the lady health workers; Sakina Shanwari, supervisor of the lady health workers, thanks the American people. Photo Credit: USAID/Pakistan

The kits were donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Pakistan’s National Program for Family Planning and Primary Health Care.  Kits include blood pressure monitors, scales, thermometers, blankets, tents, and basic furniture.  This equipment will enable Lady Health Workers to set up health houses to provide basic services in flood-affected communities.

Read more here.

Picture of the Week: Progress in Haiti

Josette Colin Josette Colin discusses how her earthquake-damaged home was made habitable again by USAID/OFDA-funded Pan American Development Foundation teams in the Simmond-Pele neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Dec. 16, 2010. Photo is from Kendra Helmer/USAID.

USAID’s Strong Partnership with Israel Ensured Rapid Response During Disaster

The wildfires that ravaged large areas of Mount Carmel forest, killing 41 people and damaging hundreds of homes in the Northern Israel in early December, were halted with the help of local and international emergency teams. The intensive coordination efforts of USAID West Bank and Gaza with the Government of Israel enabled the rapid mobilization of U.S. Government assistance to combat the forest fires.

Through communications with the Israeli Government, USAID West Bank and Gaza identified the emergency needs and immediately mobilized the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) which arrived to Haifa, Israel, on December 5, to work alongside the Israeli firefighters and offer technical expertise. The United States also flew nearly 70 metric tons (MT) of fire suppressant and 3,800 gallons of fire retardant concentrate to Israel.

In addition to assistance from the U.S. and Europe, Israel received help from its Arab neighbors, Jordan and Egypt, as well as the Palestinian Authority who sent three fire engines and firefighters to suppress the fires together with their Israeli counterparts. Responding to this conciliatory gesture, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation and thanks to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Helping Israel suppress its largest forest fire ever, USAID also played a role in passing information between different parties and providing emergency advice.

The fires have subsided, but the United States is ready to provide additional assistance to support the Government of Israel if needed.

The United States Government’s Response to the Carmel Fire

This originally appeared on the White House Blog.

Today our faith-based office at the U.S. Agency for International Development hosted a conference call with Nancy Lindborg and Daniel Shapiro to detail the U.S. Government’s response to the Carmel Fire in Israel.  Nancy Lindborg is the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID and Daniel Shapiro is Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Staff at the White House.  I was honored to moderate the call and engage with the 180 plus participants we had on the line.

Highlights of the U.S. Government’s response:

  • A USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) of 10 people arrived in Haifa, Israel on December 5 and remains in place as the response continues.
  • The DART, which includes a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team with fire management experts from the U.S. Forest Service, is currently working alongside their Israeli counterparts at the command center at Haifa University.
  • The Israeli government expressed greatest need for fire suppressant and retardant.  In response, the U.S. Government has delivered 111 metric tons (MT) of fire suppressant and 3,800 gallons of fire retardant concentration.   This assistance was delivered via five US C-130 aircrafts.
  • Of the 111 MT’s, this included USAID who airlifted approximately 27 MT of Fire-Trol retardant and 22 MT of Fire-Trol fire foam with the addition of 20 MT of fire foam donated by Italy.

The Government of Israel has been leading an extraordinary effort to contain and suppress the wildfires, and – as a result of the success of that effort – several operations that were in motion to provide additional aircraft and support were not needed but remain in a “stand by” status should the situation change.

Echoing the President’s remarks from last Thursday’s Hanukkah Celebration at the White House, our deepest condolences are with everybody in Israel who is affected by this tragedy and the family and loved ones of those in harm’s way.  USAID is committed to continuing to work with our partners as the Carmel region transitions from disaster response to recovery.  Our faith-based office at USAID is taking the lead for the U.S. Government and is coordinating the flow of information with the NGO community as together we look towards long-term recovery and reforestation.

If you would like to make suggestions about how we can add value to conversations taking place amongst NGOs or if you’d like to receive updated information about the U.S. Government response, please send us an email at FBCI (at) usaid.gov.

Ari Alexander serves as Deputy Director at the Center for Faith-based & Community Initiatives and the Coordinator of Global Engagement at the United States Agency for International Development.

USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team in Israel

USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) arrived in Haifa, Israel on December 5.  The DART, which includes a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team with fire management experts from the U.S. Forest Service, is currently working alongside their Israeli counterparts at the command center at Haifa University.

The USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) discusses aerial firefighting support with local responders. The DART, which includes a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team with fire management experts from the U.S. Forest Service, is currently working alongside their Israeli counterparts at the command center at Haifa University. Photo Credit: USAID

We wanted to be get necessary fire suppression supplies to Israel as soon as possible so our logisticians immediately adjusted our purchase order based on market availability.  The USAID cargo flight, carrying approximately 27 metric tons (MT) of Fire-Trol retardant and 22 MT of Fire-Trol fire foam, landed in Israel at approximately 9:45 pm local time on December 5.  The USAID-charted aircraft, which originated in Italy, also transported 20 MT of Italian-donated fire foam.

In addition, a U.S. C-130 aircraft from U.S. European Command (EUCOM) delivered 3,800 gallons of fire retardant concentrate to Israel on December 5.  On December 4, two U.S. C-130s from EUCOM delivered a total of 20 short tons of fire retardant to Israel.

The latest information indicates that the fires will soon be under control, and we commend the Government of Israel for leading and coordinating an extraordinary international effort to suppress the deadly wildfires.  The USAID DART continues to work alongside their Israeli counterparts, and we stand prepared to provide additional assistance to support the Government of Israel if needed.

U.S. Dispatches Airborne Assistance and Materials for Israel’s Wildfires

The U.S. Government, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is immediately dispatching U.S. Department of Defense aircraft to aid in the suppression of the raging wildfires in Israel.

Three U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard C-130 Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) aircraft will depart the United States for Israel this weekend to conduct fire suppression operations in support of the Government of Israel. In addition, two U.S. European Command C-130 aircraft carrying 20 tons of fire retardant will depart Ramstein Air Base in Germany to arrive over the weekend to further aid in fighting the wildfires.

These aircraft are in addition to the commercial aircraft chartered by USAID to deliver 45 tons of Fire-Troll fire retardant and 12,000 liters of WD881 Class A foam. Through its partnership with the U.S. Forest Service’s Disaster Assistance Support Program, USAID is also deploying a team of experts join with their Israeli counterparts to help combat the fires.

The United States stands prepared to provide additional assistance should it be necessary.

For more information about US assistance in the wake of the wildfires in Israel, please visit www.usaid.gov.

USAID Deploys Experts to Help Suppress Fires in Israel

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