Today marks the one-year anniversary of the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Haiti. Causing catastrophic destruction in the hemisphere’s poorest nation, the ghastly death toll eventually reached 316,000 people, as Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told a news conference today. Millions more are still being harshly affected by lack of water, shelter and food.
Dr. Lloyd Sederer underscored the severity of the current crisis in an important post at Huffington Post:
"The majority of Haitians have a lifespan shortened by malnutrition, infectious disease (including HIV and tuberculosis), poor maternal health care, environmental destruction, and the toll of back-breaking labor. The earthquake brought additional plagues. One of these has been a cholera epidemic engendered by poor access to clean water (already a problem before the earthquake), poor management of sewage, limited access to coordinated health care and poor routes of public health communication — all problems of the sort we call in medicine ‘pre-existing conditions,’ but exponentially worsened by social disruption and the re-organization of the population in Port au Prince into fundamentally unsound living conditions — barely alleviated by only a fraction of the external aid that was promised."
Last year I posted a roundup of groups on the ground to support conducting critical relief and reconstruction and Nation readers were extremely generous. The problems, unfortunately, are still beyond grave and there are numerous ways to continue to help.
Founded and run by Haitian rape survivors, FAVILEK (Women Victims Get Up Stand Up) assists victims with medical, legal, and moral support, in addition to building a movement against sexual violence.
Providing assistance and support to grassroots environmental, women’s, and human-rights groups, KONPAY (Working Together for Haiti) has also fought to get Haitian voices included in foreign-run relief and reconstruction meetings.
In addition to providing legal support to Haitians and creating a force of Haitian human-rights lawyers and advocates with its partner, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti publishes extensive reports that keep a light on conditions in the displacement camps.