After Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew on 4th October 2016, affecting more than two million people, Handicap International launched an emergency response in aid of the victims. The response is expected to last several months. The organisation deployed two mobile teams in the city of Les Cayes to assess the city’s hospitals and rehabilitation services, supply wheelchairs, crutches and walking frames, organise rehabilitation sessions for the injured and provide psychological support to help victims overcome their trauma.
Handicap International organised the distribution of 1,000 emergency kits containing a toolbox, ropes and sheets, so that people could build shelters and live in decent conditions, and distributed hygiene kits and essential household items to stop the spread of epidemics. The organisation also set up a logistics platform in the cities of Les Cayes and Jérémie to ensure humanitarian aid reached people living in inaccessible areas, by land or sea. It also provided other humanitarian actors with advice to make sure the most vulnerable people (such as heads of households, older or disabled people) benefit from their services.
The organisation also launched a response after the violent earthquake that hit the country in January 2010, killing more than 230,000 people. This emergency response made a considerable impact: more than 90,000 people received care, over 1,400 benefited from orthopaedic fitting, and 5,600 mobility aids were distributed to people with disabilities.
Handicap International is now implementing new projects to support Haitians in the long term. In order to address the lack of local rehabilitation expertise (before the earthquake there were only 13 qualified physiotherapists working in the country), Handicap International is working to promote rehabilitation professions in Haiti and has trained student rehabilitation technicians. The organisation has also completed the training of other rehabilitation technicians who had never undertaken any formal training. Furthermore, the organisation is promoting access to quality rehabilitation services and providing support (mainly organisational and technical) to health structures.
Handicap International has implemented projects aimed at improving the preparation and protection of vulnerable people, particularly people with disabilities, when natural disasters occur. The organisation is raising awareness and training stakeholders - the authorities, civil security, and project partners – to ensure they take the most vulnerable into account in their interventions.
Handicap International is also running an economic inclusion project for more than 200 people with disabilities in Port-au-Prince, so that they are able to earn a living for themselves and their families. The teams also raise awareness among inhabitants and stakeholders regarding economic inclusion and people with disabilities’ potential in terms of undertaking professional work.
Lastly, in order to improve road safety in Haiti, Handicap International is raising people's awareness of road safety and improving access to shared transport for people with disabilities.