“I have been afraid of bad weather since the earthquake of January 2010,” 56-year old Emma Joseph told the ActionAid team as Haiti began picking up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy.
Living in Tet Source camp, Mariani, just outside of Haiti’s capital Port au Prince, Emma is one of 400,000 Haitians still without permanent shelter since a devastating earthquake struck the small island nation in January 2010.
She describes what it was like when Hurricane Sandy hit:
After the earthquake, I had to move on this camp site because my house got destroyed. Here my family and I are vulnerable to the rain, the cold, the heat and winds. Hurricane Sandy brought the rain, the cold and winds at once, it was a nightmare.
“With all the families on this site, we spent hours trying to patch up our tents whilst heavy rains and high winds were tearing them apart like paper sheets.
“We could not even protect babies and children from getting wet. The worst is that we had to stay in this situation for two nights and three days.”
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Haiti's most vulnerable families are facing huge challenges explains Emma:
In addition to the tents that are ripped, we now have no money to buy food and we fear a cholera outbreak due to the unsanitary conditions that we are left in.
"Because Port-au-Prince was shut down for three days, a lot of the women could not go out on the streets to sell whatever small products they had [usually food spices]. Now the products are all ruin and cannot be sold. This leaves us in a severe financial situation,” she ends with a sigh.
The Haitian Government has declared a month-long state of emergency following Hurricane Sandy. The United Nations has said that over a million people are facing food insecurity as a result of the devastation caused, with risk of serious malnutrition in the south.
The ActionAid Haiti team is working with some of the communities hardest hit to provide food and hygiene kits to help prevent cholera, to replace damaged shelters and is working to secure funds to support the response.
ActionAid Haiti is building semi permanent houses for 150 families to reduce their vulnerability in the face of future disasters. ActionAid is also planning to create ‘safe havens’ - solid community structures in or near camps - so that people like Emma, who are still without homes, have somewhere dry and secure to take shelter when severe weather strikes.
Since the earthquake of 2010, ActionAid Haiti, with the support of several major donors and supporters around the world, has been working with 6 communities living in camps to improve their situation with food, hygiene kits, psychosocial care and livelihood support such as cash for work.