Integral Members Collaborating in Haiti – a Summary

As Hurricane Matthew gained strength in the Caribbean in early October 2016, Integral Members started coordinating their work, and the work of their partners …

Photo: Staff from Medair, World Concern, Food for the Hungry and Medical Teams International at a planning meeting for the joint assessment.

An Integral joint response in Haiti was agreed on 6th October 2016, two days after Hurricane Matthew hit as a Category 4 Hurricane with devastating impact on the Southern coast of the island. An estimated 1.4 million people have been left in need of assistance.  (Source OCHA here).

More than a month into this response, the humanitarian situation is still extremely challenging. Access, especially to remote communities, is often possible only by boat. In some areas up to 90% of homes have been destroyed.  Many families are reportedly eating only one meal a day and clean drinking water is still not available in most of the locations affected by the hurricane.  The risk of cholera outbreaks in these communities is substantial with reported cholera cases more than doubled since the hurricane struck.

Integral Members have been working together, along with their partners, to alleviate the immediate suffering of some of the most affected communities. They have been bringing food and shelter assistance, providing medicines, establishing cholera treatment facilities, and assessing how to best help communities recover.  Even though many have received assistance, the needs are still overwhelming. There is a significant funding shortfall as media coverage lessens and moves on to focus on other issues.

Responding together as Integral has allowed proposals and funding needs to be shared across the alliance and Members are providing funds for one another’s work. Members have generously shared photos and stories from Haiti with one other, allowing fundraising appeals to be quickly launched and raise more money for projects. Integral Members in Haiti have also shared vehicles, accommodation and office space.  

Joel Kaiser, Medair’s Senior Emergency Response Officer, reflects “By sharing office space and accommodation team leaders were all able to meet in the evenings, even informally, and discuss what we were seeing and hearing. By bouncing ideas of each other we more quickly arrive at conclusions and can take decisions more quickly.”

Chris Sheach, World Concern’s Director of Disaster Response, explains how Integral Members were well-positioned to coordinate following the hurricane because of working together in the Haiti earthquake of 2010. ”A network was established in 2012 by Tearfund UK that included Integral operational Members, as well as local partners, and other agencies. The network, named Réseau Intégral Haïtien pour le Plaidoyer et l’Environnement Durable – RIHPED for short, established a contingency fund called Fonde Frère, so that members were ready for precisely this type of disaster. This fund was launched in the first week so that network members could start assessments and immediate relief assistance.”

Integral Members drew from this fund in the immediate aftermath of the disaster – World Concern brought water filters, Food for the Hungry food rations, and Medair hygiene kits. Four Integral Members were also resourced to do a multi-sectoral assessment and a joint proposal for assistance.

Joel Kaiser explains the advantages of a collaborative approach; ”Efficiencies can be made when we work together because each agency has different capacity to contribute. For example, in Haiti World Concern and Medical Teams International provided local relationships, assessment staff and vehicles. Medair provided technical support in information management, shelter and WASH. Food for the Hungry shared its assessment data with us. By pooling resources together we get the job done faster.”

Integral’s ‘Pooled Fund’ model has also enabled World Relief (US) to build on its existing work with churches in Haiti. Working with the RIHPED network, they are empowering local churches in the affected region to respond to needs in their local communities with funding pooled from a number of Integral Members.  

Joel says, “The main challenges we now face are to find the right staff to scale up our work, travelling on very poor road networks throughout the affected areas, and mitigating tension among the affected populations because of a slow response.  Our hope for the end of the year is that we will get everyone in a shelter, but even that is a huge challenge. However, what is clear is that our joint collaboration will help us reach more people, faster.”

Click here for an infographic of information collected during the Integral joint needs assessment.