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Haiti: Massive distribution of building materials, three months after Hurricane Matthew

23 Jan 2017

After providing urgent medical care, Médecins Sans Frontières launched a distribution campaign consisting of building materials, hygiene kits, water storage equipment and purification tablets, blankets and energy biscuits to benefit 10,000 families living in the remote mountains of Sud-Ouest, the island region most severely affected by hurricane Matthew. They will also receive a set of 10 corrugated metal sheets, enough to rebuild a 12-square-metre roof and provide shelter with dignity. 

"In remote areas of the mountains, people were forced to rebuild hastily by salvaging materials that had been blown around by the wind, often broken and full of holes. The poor construction quality of the buildings does not provide adequate shelter from the elements, especially heavy rains, and this can have direct consequences for their health," says Lily Caldwell, Médecins Sans Frontières’ emergency team coordinator. Arranging distribution logistics, which received support from the World Food Programme, is a huge challenge, given the difficulty of reaching these areas, where there are often no roads and security is lacking. "Bad weather often limits our window of activity – sometimes even grounding the helicopters, which are our only means of reaching these remote areas. These long delays create a lot of frustration, so our field teams have to spend a great deal of time explaining our actions before we can proceed and ensure that distribution occurs under the right conditions, all of which leads to even further delays!" states Lily Caldwell. 

"Médecins Sans Frontières has in fact relied on a partnership with community members to ensure the success of the initiative"

"What a joy it is to receive these items from Médecins Sans Frontières.  It's like getting a bit of fresh water in the region after days of nothing to eat or drink. We do need more, but we are really grateful for this assistance," says Jean Marc, a member of the Chardonnières community. Médecins Sans Frontières has in fact relied on a partnership with community members to ensure the success of the initiative. It has over 250 national and 39 international staff still active in the post-Matthew response, in addition to the regular response teams working in six health facilities in the country. "Donations are going well. In the presence of MSF staff, the beneficiary collects the donation for his/her family [an average of 7 people] from a community representative who previously accepted the items at the time they were delivered," explains François Giddey, the field distribution coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Médecins Sans Frontières provided an emergency response in the departments of Grande Anse, Sud and Nippes. In Nord, Artibonite and Ouest, support was also provided to other hospitals, to allow them to better meet their needs. The organization treated 832 injured during the hurricane, attended to the medical needs of 6,341 people, treated 458 cholera patients, rehabilitated 26 water outlets and has so far provided 10,092,500 litres of clean water by tanker. At the same time, in support of the Ministry of Health, we provided cholera vaccinations to approximately 13,800 people in the most affected and hardest-to-reach areas of Sud and in the town of Coteaux.