USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Disaster Relief

Helping Shelter Haiti

The humanitarian community in Haiti has funds for the construction of more than 118,000 transitional shelters over the coming months for those who lost their homes in the country’s devastating earthquake earlier this year. Medair, an international NGO, is one of many partners receiving funding from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance to build such shelters.

Last week, Medair unloaded construction materials for 800 transitional shelters — a fraction of the total they plan to build — in Jacmel, south of Port-au-Prince. Medair is planning to build 4,500 t-shelters in the Jacmel area, benefiting 27,000 people. Here’s a dispatch from Emma Le Beau, Field Communications Officer for Medair Haiti, about the excitement that this delivery brought to Jacmel and the direct impact of our work on the lives of Haitians affected by the earthquake:

“As our cargo ship approached Jacmel at dawn, local fishing boats rowed ahead of the boat to steer it clear of a treacherous sandbar. When the ship berthed, we began unloading the cargo with the aid of two 35-ton cranes, four forklifts, seven flatbed trucks, and the logistical support of shipping agent Kuehne and Nagel and Haitian partner Hogarth. The flatbed trucks made it over the mountains from Port-au-Prince with only one flat tire among them.

“The cranes operated throughout the night to unload 1,331 tons of cargo from the ship, including timber and galvanized iron sheeting. Because of widespread deforestation in Haiti, we chose to import the pre-treated timber to keep local trees in place.

“From the port, trucks loaded with the ship’s materials made nearly 200 runs to the Medair warehouse. When they arrived, Medair teams of technical officers, carpenters, logisticians, and community mobilizers, who have been in place since January, were there to greet them. Now that more materials are in place, they’ll be able to scale up the speed of their construction and build more shelters for Haitian families in need in hard-to-reach mountain villages near Jacmel.

“The shelters, designed to resist hurricane force winds, seismic risks and heavy rainfall, are solid structures with foundations of reinforced concrete. They take about three days to build and are finished with a wrapping of plastic sheeting and solid windows and doors. Many families will likely choose to upgrade this type of shelter into a permanent home by replacing the plastic sheeting with stone walls.

The Rossamund family, whose home was made dangerously unsafe by the earthquake, has already received a new shelter and is enjoying living in safer and dry housing. Monsieur Rossamund told Medair staff: “If I had not received this help, I would need to sell all my animals to pay for the materials to rebuild my home.” By keeping his animals, his family can continue to have a livelihood, food, and insurance for the future.”

World Humanitarian Day: Response Coordinator Reflects on Progress Made in Haiti

Yesterday was World Humanitarian Day, a day when we remember the millions of people experiencing conflict, natural disasters, sickness and extreme poverty and the people committed to saving their lives, relieving suffering and empowering those who are struggling make a better life.

At USAID, we have a long history of extending a helping hand to people overseas recovering from disaster and are continuing to respond to humanitarian needs. We support Pakistanis affected by the epic flooding in the country’s south and west. And since January 12, our aid workers and partners have worked hard to help the people of Haiti build back better after the earthquake.

Watch a video featuring Response Coordinator Skip Waskin and learn about humanitarian aid efforts in Haiti.

Video: USAID Pakistan Flood Assistance

As USAID marks World Humanitarian Day, we continue around-the-clock efforts to support Pakistanis affected by the epic flooding in the country’s south and west. The scale of the disaster remains astounding, with millions already displaced. USAID-supplied plastic sheeting, enough to provide shelter for 7,800 families, has just arrived. Each of these families will also receive an emergency shelter package containing a 20-liter water container, blankets, rope, and a kitchen set.

We are also keeping a close eye out on minimizing waterborne diseases, through educational campaigns as well as expanded water monitoring. Since late July, USAID has provided immediate assistance from the American people to the flood-affected people of Pakistan.

Watch and share this new video for a glimpse into just some of what USAID has provided on behalf of the American people at www.usaid.gov/pakistanflooding

Apparel Training Center in Haiti Educates Textile Factory Workforce

Forming a Better-Trained Workforce in Haiti
Written By Joanna Stavropoulos, CHF Haiti communications manager

Graduate of USAID-funded garment training center in Haiti

Steve Jean, a graduate of the new USAID-funded Haiti Apparel Center, trains sewing machine operators in Port-au-Prince. Photo by Joanna Stavropoulos/CHF

Steve Jean, 37, grew up in a family of tailors – his mother, father, even his grandfather and before him. When he was a child, more than 100,000 textile workers had jobs in Haiti. Now there are fewer than 20,000.

But USAID is working to change this statistic and bring vitally needed economic development, jobs and investment to Haiti.  On Wednesday, USAID led the inauguration with CHF International for the Haiti Apparel Center (HAC), which will train 2,000 Haitians a year on a wide variety of jobs needed for Haiti to develop its textile manufacturing sector.

Even before HAC’s official opening, Steve graduated from the Center as a trainer for sewing machine operators and has been overseeing workers in apparel factories next door.

Steve’s face shone with pride as he walked me through the 30,000-square-foot freshly refurbished HAC building with its many rows of shiny new sewing machines where he will soon train other Haitians eager to join the textile industry.

“I believe in this, I know it will be a success,” he says with emotion. “There is a future here because Haitians like to work; young people want to work. So if they have the opportunity they will learn and they will prove what they can do.”

Steve explains that it’s difficult to find a family in Haiti without a tailor among its members. “Even if we have 10 or 20 centers like this,” he said, “you will have a lot of people waiting for this opportunity.”

Steve also points out that the sewing machine operators from HAC will learn all the varieties of stitching (single-needle, cover-stitch, lock-stitch and over-lock), which will increase their appeal to a wide variety of potential employers.

The Center will teach virtually the entire spectrum of skills needed by textile manufacturing workers. There will be instruction for sewing machine mechanics, quality control specialists, industrial engineers, supervisors and plant managers. There will even be seminars for top executives and factory owners who wish to further educate themselves about the latest innovations and techniques in the field.

Steve is excited about his job as a trainer. “The main thing that I learned is how to teach,” he says about the three-month long instruction at HAC. “How to explain and when you explain and they don’t understand – how to figure out what you did wrong and become better in the explanation.”

“I very much enjoy teaching,” says Steve, smiling as we stop outside the building. “When you try to figure out what to do to help someone learn and understand, I like that.”

You can see more photos from the HAC inauguration on the USAID Flickr feed.

USAID Responds: Pakistan Flood Relief

Submitted by Ryan Cherlin

A tragedy of epic proportions, the floods in Pakistan have already affected more than 12 million people. Rain continues to fall, water levels are still rising, and the country’s dams are already operating at high capacity. An estimated 1,500 have perished, millions are left vulnerable without access to healthcare, and more than 650,000 homes were washed away by flash floods leaving billions of dollars of damage in its wake.  USAID/Pakistan immediately responded to the country’s National Disaster Management Authority’s call for help to provide much needed assistance to flood victims.

USAID mobilized its Disaster Assistance Response Team to provide rescue boats, water filtration systems, food, and shelter. Each day, our efforts are providing 60,000 people with clean drinking water, 20,000 people with food, and over 65,000 people with shelter. Recently, USAID announced an additional $20 million for flood relief efforts, bringing the Agency’s total contribution to $55 million—a figure which is sure to grow as the tragedy unfolds.

In Pakistan, disaster and despair have given rise to great humanity. The American people have a history of responding generously to the people of Pakistan in times of need. In 2005 when the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan, USAID was there.  In 2009 when conflict erupted in Pakistan’s FATA region, USAID provided relief to internally displaced persons. In early August when the monsoon rains began to fall and the flood waters began to surge, USAID responded. And even long after the flood waters recede—USAID will be here to rebuild what was lost.

Working with mGive, Americans are contributing to Pakistan flood relief by texting the word “SWAT” to 50555. The text will result in a donation of $10 to the UNHCR Pakistan Flood Relief Effort. Every $10 helps provide tents and emergency aid to displaced families.

Picture of the Week

Learn more about how USAID is assisting with flood relief for Pakistan.

For individuals and organizations who wish to help those affected by the floods, USAID encourages cash donations be made to humanitarian organizations already working in the affected areas. Nothing will get there faster or help more. Working with mGive, Americans are contributing to Pakistan flood relief by texting the word “SWAT” to 50555. Each text will result in a donation of $10 to the UNHCR’s Pakistan Flood Relief Effort, helping to provide emergency aid to displaced families.

This Week at USAID – July 26, 2010

Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Management Drew Luten will testify before the Commission on Wartime Contracting on Subcontracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Administrator Shah and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke will appear before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations for an oversight hearing on corruption in Afghanistan.

Chief Innovation Officer Maura O’Neill will participate in a briefing entitled: Innovation to Catalyze Development: Leveraging Research in Foreign Assistance, which is organized by the Global Health Technologies Coalition and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.

Administrator Shah will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere about: The Crisis in Haiti: Are We Moving Fast Enough?  He will also brief the Congressional Black Caucus about efforts in Haiti.

Long-Term Investments to Bring Real-Life Improvements to People of Pakistan

A summary map on the activities announced or underway in Pakistan.

During Dr. Raj Shah’s whirlwind two-day visit to Pakistan with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the ongoing Strategic Dialogue between the two countries, the U.S. announced more than $500 million in new development assistance for Pakistan. 

The new projects include the completion of two hydroelectric dams in South Waziristan and Gilgit-Baltistan that will supply more than 34 megawatts of additional power to 280,000 residents in those areas, the renovation and construction of three medical facilities, economic growth programs and seven projects to improve water distribution and efficiency in the country. Much of the assistance will be delivered by USAID.

The United States shares with Pakistan a vision of a future in which all people can live safe, healthy, and productive lives. Dr. Shah spoke with press about USAID’s role in Pakistan, saying that “Our commitment is broad and deep,” and one that encompasses programs ranging from health and energy to economic growth and agriculture. 

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This Week at USAID – July 12, 2010

Today is the six-month commemoration of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. Administrator Shah just returned from a trip to Haiti and issued a statement to mark the commemoration.

USAID is hosting a conference entitled Transforming Development through Science, Technology and Innovation.  The conference is co-hosted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the President’s Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren.  Participants include many of the world’s leading scientists and development thinkers, along with leaders of key federal science agencies who will help map out USAID’s bold new science, technology and innovation agenda.

Statement from Administrator Shah on the Six Month Commemoration of the Haiti Earthquake

submitted by Anna Gohmann

Administrator Shah released the following statement on the six-month commemoration of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010:

“Today, we pause to reflect on the tragedy that struck Haiti six months ago and claimed the lives of more than 230,000 people.  In the wake of the devastation, countless more were left injured and 1.5 million were displaced and moved into spontaneous settlements across greater Port-au-Prince.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, USAID participated in the largest urban food distribution in history and fed more than 3.5 million people.  We helped distribute emergency shelter to 1 million people.  And we supported a campaign to vaccinate more than one million Haitians against diseases and outbreaks that could have decimated the population.

But our work has only just begun and significant challenges lay before Haiti and the international community.   The US has committed more than $1 billion to Haiti’s long-term reconstruction and development.  USAID is working with our colleagues at the Department of State and others across the Federal Government to apply the experience and knowledge of our development experts to high-impact projects in five key areas: agriculture, energy, governance support, infrastructure, and health.

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