WASHINGTON — Before Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti on October 4th, many organizations in the humanitarian community knew the storm would have a devastating impact on the country, which is still in recovery following the 2010 earthquake. Even with the large in-country presence of NGOs working on earthquake recovery and community development, aid organizations still needed to deploy even more personnel and aid to Haiti to enable a rapid relief. Since October 3, Airlink has been working with 11 partner NGOs to send in support personnel to augment relief efforts in health, WASH, debris clearance, volunteer coordination, education, and more.
However, it is likely that the response in Haiti will be defined by the aid cargo that can be shipped into the country. Ongoing needs include medical supplies, hygiene kits and clean water resources, and food aid. While NGOs are beginning to bring in aid by air and sea, the customs process is expected to be complex and lengthy at times, and last-mile logistics still remain a challenge. Some areas are accessible by helicopter only, and in other places, NGOs face security concerns when transporting their aid by road to areas of need.
To help address these issues, Airlink has, for the first time, deployed two humanitarian specialists to Haiti, Brad Parker and Eddy Daniels. Parker arrived in Port-au-Prince on Thursday, and is coordinating NGO demand for airlift and last-mile transport as the relief effort continues, as well as representing Airlink at logistics meetings in the country. Meanwhile, Daniels is working as Airlink’s customs expert, making sure that Airlink partners clear customs quickly and get their cargo out to those in need.
As of today, over 2.1 million people have been affected by the storm. Aid workers continue to experience a spike in cholera, with over 500 cases reported in the last two weeks alone and at least 173 lives have been lost to the disease since the storm. Homes and other buildings were also hit hard by this storm; in Les Anglais, where the hurricane first made landfall, just 2% of the original 4,000 homes remain standing. Airlink’s response to this disaster continues to evolve as the team continues to work with airlines and NGOs to bring aid to the people most impacted by Hurricane Matthew.