Relief supplies leaving the FCDO warehouse in Kemble. Credit: FCDO/UK Government
“Haiti is now on its knees.” This from Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry as the country faced a rising death toll in the wake of the massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck on the morning of 14th August.
Search and rescue efforts on the ground have been further complicated and slowed down as Haiti was struck by Tropical Storm Grace with strong winds and heavy rain just two days later. The earthquake not only severely damaged a large swath of the southern coast of the country but hospitals and clinics in those areas were either destroyed or overwhelmed by the sheer number of injured people in need of attention.
According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, nearly half of the 800,000 people affected by the earthquake are in need of humanitarian assistance.
In response, Palladium’s Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team (HSOT), which is funded by UK aid, supported the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department to develop a response.
HSOT's early warning systems alerted the FCDO and a cross-cutting team of experts helped assess the potential humanitarian impact of the earthquake. Within two hours of the alert, the team analysed and collected information on the situation on the ground, assessed the needs of those affected and provided the FCDO with recommendations for action. HSOT also developed supply chain plans for the rapid delivery of relief supplies to Haitians.
Providing the Essentials
HSOT delivered 20 metric tonnes of essential relief items to Haiti from the UK stockpile via a British Airways charter that departed London Heathrow airport on 24th August. The supplies consisted of solar lanterns and plastic sheeting as temporary shelters for the displaced population, as well as fixing kits made up of ropes, nails and other equipment to set up the temporary shelter, enough for up to 1,300 families.
The team worked with a pre-vetted regional supplier in Panama, which acts as a central hub for relief stocks in Central America. Through this mechanism, HSOT delivered some 1,300 hygiene kits, which arrived in the country’s capital Port-au-Prince on 31st August. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) received the supplies and has been distributing them to some of the worst affected areas. Meanwhile, HSOT has been replenishing the UK stockpile to ensure the team is prepared for any future emergency.
“The UK is now providing vital shelter and lighting for up to 1,300 vulnerable families in Haiti, following the recent devastating earthquake,” noted the UK Minister of State for the Caribbean Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon. “We committed up to GBP 1 million of UK aid and a Royal Navy Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship to support the relief effort and stand ready to provide more to the international response.”
“The supplies provided are critical items supporting families that have lost their homes in this devastating earthquake,” adds Tim Grimble, HSOT Interim Deputy Director, Procurement & Logistics. “Palladium linked up with other donors to complement pre-positioned stocks to extend the provision of supplies to through existing partners and delivery networks, and the monitoring of these distributions continues.”
Ensuring Resilience in the Face of Crisis
Natural disasters are becoming increasingly frequent as a result of climate change and their effects are less and less predictable. HSOT is committed to following the humanitarian principle of ‘do no harm’ and mitigating, rather than exacerbating, the impact of calamities and subsequent relief efforts. As a consequence, beyond meeting the immediate needs of those affected in Haiti, the team is also considering the environmental impact of the response.
Palladium’s air charter broker offsets emissions resulting from the response’s flight operations. Moreover, procuring goods via regional sources has the advantage of further minimising the environmental footprint due to the lower distance between the items’ point of departure and destination and the possibility to use charters which are already scheduled to operate on the same routings.
HSOT also engaged with IOM on the ground to ensure that the risks of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment when distributing relief items are minimised.
Palladium manages the implementation of the Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team (HSOT), a program funded with UK aid from the British people. HSOT provides the UK government with capacity and specialist expertise to support effective responses to sudden-onset disasters, crises, and complex emergencies around the world. For more information on HSOT’s work, visit their LinkedIn or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.