By Canadian Jesuits International
The Jesuits in Haiti are accompanying vulnerable families affected by the August 2021 earthquake with the construction of housing in the south of Haiti. Below is an interim report on the work accomplished so far. Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) is supporting this work, thanks to the generosity of Canadians.
Despite the sociopolitical unrest and continuing security crisis in Haiti, the reconstruction efforts by the Jesuits and marginalized communities in the south of the country following the August 14, 2021, earthquake are making considerable progress.
Six months after the project was launched in February 2022, 20 of the most vulnerable families were rehoused with dignity in new homes in Sucrerie Henri and Ducis in the Sud department, according to an interim report sent to CJI, which supports the project.
Another 20 homes will be ready for families to move into this fall, which brings the total to 40 of the 60 new houses planned for the area.
In the Grand’Anse department, also in the affected area, 20 houses are under construction, and preparations are underway for 20 more, for a total of 40 of the 60 houses planned for this area. The poor state of the roads, communication challenges, and political unrest have delayed the construction in Grand’Anse.
To ensure the project’s completion in 2023, new strategies have been implemented. The technical coordinator (engineer) will have a greater presence in the field to better animate the teams of forepersons and masons and to respond more easily to their needs.
About 800,000 people were affected by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which also left more than 2,200 dead and over 12,000 injured, according to UNICEF.
Shortly after, Tropical Depression Grace unleashed torrential rain on the earthquake-damaged communities, further cutting off access to water, sanitation, and shelter.
“This project is an opportunity to transform a tragedy into an opportunity for human and socio-economic development for the most vulnerable,” said the late Fr. Kawas François, SJ, then director of The Jesuit Commission for Intervention in the Greater South of Haiti.
“This project is an opportunity to transform a tragedy into an opportunity for human and socio-economic development for the most vulnerable.”
Disaster and risk management
The second major component of the project — training and awareness raising — has also been set in motion. A total of 240 men and women from the beneficiary families participated in a two-day training workshop on risk and disaster management.
Families learned how to protect themselves in the event of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters. They learned about water management and other ecology and reforestation practices. They also had access to psychosocial, economic, and spiritual support.
“Unfortunately, the sociopolitical unrest has somewhat disrupted the pace of these workshops. We are making appropriate arrangements so that all the selected families can benefit from this activity,” said Fr. François.
Beneficiary families and their relatives, many of whom have been abandoned by the government, have given the project a warm welcome. They have been enthusiastic in their support for mobilizing communities to address topics that include protection against natural disasters, the urgency of addressing environmental challenges, and dealing with individual and collective psychosocial consequences of disasters.
Beneficiary families and their relatives, many of whom have been abandoned by the government, have given the project a warm welcome.
“These communities publicly express their gratitude to the Jesuits and their international donors for their solidarity and support,” said Fr. François.