Haiti earthquake in 2010 leads to largest single country response in Red Cross history


Calgary – It has been five years since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, leading to the largest single country response in Red Cross history. While much progress has been made following the disaster on January 12, 2010, the Canadian Red Cross continues its long-term recovery efforts to help Haitians rebuild and strengthen their communities.

“The scale of this disaster, coupled with the extreme vulnerabilities that existed in Haiti prior to the earthquake, meant that the recovery and rebuilding process would be unique and complex,” said Conrad Sauvé, secretary general and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross. “The Canadian Red Cross takes a comprehensive approach to disaster response helping to rebuild – not just houses, but lives – by ensuring communities are stronger, healthier and more resilient should disaster strike again.”

Today, the Canadian Red Cross continues its work in Haiti to improve access to healthcare for the country’s most vulnerable members, including mothers, newborns and children, as well as strengthening community resilience through community care and first aid. This initiative, made possible by a $35 million investment, includes working to rebuild the hospital in Jacmel that was damaged during the earthquake.

The healthcare project is among several critical initiatives undertaken by the Red Cross to help Haitian communities rebuild after the earthquake. Approximately five million people have received support from the Red Cross Movement — which means that one in two Haitians have received direct assistance from the Red Cross.

The Canadian Red Cross marked a major milestone last year in recovery efforts through the completion of a shelter project, providing more than 7,500 families with homes in the Jacmel and Leogane communities. The Red Cross has ensured the occupants of these houses received title of ownership, and that the methods and materials are adapted to the particular geography of each region to protect against hurricane winds and flooding. Overall, some 19,000 families have been provided with safe shelter solutions.

“A key to the success of the Canadian effort has been working closely with Haitian communities,” said Sauvé. “The Canadian Red Cross was working in Haiti long before the earthquake struck and understands the extreme vulnerabilities that had to be addressed in the recovery period.”

The Haitian Red Cross has an established risk reduction program, and Red Cross programs have focused on helping increase regional response capacity through training in financial, volunteer and logistics management. The Haitian Red Cross has also been equipped with effective emergency operations centres at headquarters and other branches.

In the days and months following the earthquake, $222 million was donated to the Canadian Red Cross. “Thanks to the generosity of Canadians and the Government of Canada, the Red Cross has been able to make a tangible difference in the lives of many earthquake survivors, and continues to do so,” said Sauvé.