Haiti response shifts to long-term projects

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MCC begins three-year rebuilding program

by Sheldon C. Good for Meetinghouse

Nearly two years after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, about $9 million of Mennonite Central Committee’s $16 million disaster response funds have been spent and allocated on projects to revitalize Haitians’ lives. MCC is a Mennonite agency for relief, development and peace.

The remaining $7 million, including funding from the Canadian government, will be dispersed over the next three years. Funds from Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will be used to develop an agriculture trade school in Desarmes and a village and livelihoods co-op for 100 displaced families in Caberet.

Susanne Brown, MCC Haiti disaster response team coordinator, says the initial country-wide response focused on material relief and stimulating the economy through cash transfers, cash-for-work programs and recapitalization of small businesses.

“In the very beginning, we spent about $1.6 million on food, water and material aid, more than almost anything else, but now have shifted to projects that are more sustainable,” she says.

About half of MCC’s 50 initial disaster response projects are completed. MCC’s long-term disaster response includes business training, housing repairs and education. For example, MCC, along with Haitian partner Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice, trains professional masons. Pictured is Samuel Zami, a graduate of the masonry program, standing outside a three-story building in Port-au-Prince where he supervised masonry work. Zami also attended a hazard reduction engineering seminar sponsored by MCC as part of its ongoing earthquake relief.

After repairing more than 200 houses for people with disabilities living in tent camps, MCC is opening up the housing repairs to a broader group of participants and shifting to owner-driven housing. Education projects benefit street children, restavec(unpaid worker) children, university students and agricultural and construction trades participants. 

As the disaster response continues, MCC continues to work with Haitian partners, Haitian and international policymakers, and global constituents. 

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