Disaster response Haiti

South-West Haiti earthquake

2021
Published on Aug 16, 2021 01:32 PM  -  Updated on Sep 17, 2021 03:31 PM
A powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on Saturday 14 August. TSF deploys a team from its headquarters to provide humanitarian assistance in the affected area.

Context: Earthquake
Start date: 15/08/2021
End date: 06/09/2021
Areas of intervention: Haiti
Activities:

  • Support to humanitarian coordination 
  • Ambulant Wi-Fi for population 

Context

The impact of the earthquake on a highly vulnerable population has been catastrophic. More than 2,200 casualties have been confirmed and over 12,000 people have been reported injured. More than 50,000 houses have been destroyed.

As soon as we received the alert, we decided to deploy a team immediately. 11 years after our mission in response to the 2010 catastrophic earthquake, it was essential for us to be on the ground as soon as possible. We know the impact such catastrophes can have on the country and the need to act quickly. It is of paramount importance to assist a population that is already living in difficult conditions due to the political turmoil and civil unrest, and has now to face COVID, the earthquake and an approaching tropical storm” Monique Lane-Petit, TSF Director, explains.

A few days after the earthquake, tropical storm Grace caused torrential rains in the South of the country. Numerous roads became impassable, and several landslides occurred. In addition, deteriorating security conditions on several roads leading to the three affected departments of Grand'Anse, Nippes and the South further increased the difficulties in reaching the area.

Support to humanitarian coordination

TSF installed a broadband satellite connectivity at the first humanitarian coordination centre set up in Les Cayes, the main city in one of the areas most affected by the earthquake.

“We joined the first convoys heading to the south-west of the country and provided satellite connectivity at the operations coordination centre which was being set up here in Les Cayes. This connection makes information sharing more reliable between the local team of the National Civil Protection Agency (DGPC) and the national level in Port-au-Prince. It also speeds up the establishment of the coordination centre with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team”, Florent Bervas, Head of Mission for TSF in Haiti, commented.

The coordination centre in Les Cayes has been established in collaboration with the Haïtian Civil Protection and UNDAC. It quickly became the main coordination hub for the humanitarian response in the affected areas and serves all the relief organisations arriving on the ground. Members of TSF’s team also provided telecom support to the UNDAC assessment operations conducted in the surroundings of Jérémie and Les Cayes, for example in the affected localities of Aquin and Caveau Jean-Baptiste. These assessments enabled to provide accurate information about the damages and the populations’ needs to Haïti’s governmental agencies and the organisations involved in the response to the disaster.

In addition, TSF installed a satellite broadband connection at the operational centre of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Les Cayes. Part of the main hospital had been severely damaged by the earthquake. MSF-France set up a temporary camp with tents to treat the patients, and their local operational centre in Les Cayes takes care of the logistics and provision of medicines to the hospitals of the whole department. The local network remains unstable, TSF’s connection is thus essential to ensure that the provision of the necessary equipment to treat the patients can continue without interruptions.

Ambulant Wi-Fi for population 

In parallel, a TSF team carried out mobile Wi-Fi operations for isolated communities in the surroundings of Les Cayes, in order to provide Internet connectivity for a few hours to the populations affected by the earthquake. These operations covered mainly the villages of Corail Henry and Sucrerie Henry, where the network was out of service and damage was extensive. Most of the houses were destroyed, leaving the residents with no option but to sleep in makeshift shelters in very precarious conditions. In view of this situation, even just seeing someone reach their village was a source of relief and deep gratitude.

The operations were based on the results of the assessments conducted on the ground, and were implemented in close collaboration with the United Nations, the Civil Protection, the National Emergency Operations Centre (COUN), Help.ngo and all the other organisations present in the area. TSF's first emergency response has come to and end but the team remains in contact with the organisations supported during the mission in order to monitor the connections installed and provide remote assistance if necessary.  

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