Haiti Earthquake 2010: CANADEM's Response

The devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake which struck Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, on January 12, 2010 killed more than 200,000 people, injured more than 300,000, and left over a million people homeless. Two years later, as recovery and reconstruction continues in Haiti, CANADEM would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our registrants who assisted in the humanitarian relief efforts.

Through funding from the Government of Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), CANADEM deployed 11 humanitarian experts to Haiti to assist UNICEF, the World Food Program (WFP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in providing immediate and effective assistance to Haitians. 

Mark Bonnell, an Air Movement Officer, departed early on Wednesday January 20, 2010 to join the WFP in coordinating the arrival of international relief at the Port-au-Prince airport.  

Douglas Ravenstein joined UNICEF on Wednesday January 20, 2010, as an Information Manager to the water and sanitation (WASH) “cluster” in charge of overseeing the coordination of overall humanitarian assistance in the WASH area. Asked about the situation in field upon his arrival, “I could get to work quickly, but circumstances were crude and confusing. Given the nature of the disaster, and its unprecedented proportions, I think our work was remarkable in the first two weeks.” UNICEF’s target population were pregnant and lactating women, and children, of which Ravenstein estimates the nutrition cluster had reached approximately 22,000 people between January 31st and March 1st.

Jennifer Bakody, a media specialist and public information officer, joined UNICEF on Thursday January 21, 2010 as a Communications Officer to ensure up to date coverage of UNICEF related activities, the management of information and feature stories. To view one of her articles,  Take a look at Jennifer's work!

Christina Torsein joined UNICEF on January 29, 2010, as a Child Protection Specialist, to work on a comprehensive child protection program with special attention to issues such as child exploitation, child abuse, child trafficking and access to education. “It took several weeks for the system to get up and running, but a call centre is now functioning in Port au Prince which takes calls from frontline workers who have contact with children separated from their children” Torsein explained. When asked about her main challenges in her position; “I arrived two weeks after the earthquake and at that point, both the working and living conditions were very difficult. UNICEF's office had been destroyed during the earthquake and the "office" moved to the UN Logs Base. In the beginning there was very limited internet access, staff were huddled round tables with partners trying to work, and simple things such as communications and office conditions were trying. The realities of trying to co-ordinate activities and adequately respond to requests coming in particularly in the very beginning was very difficult.” To see a January 6th 2012 Ottawa Citizen article about Christina's work with UNICEF, click here!

Thomas Haythornthwaite joined the mission on January 31, 2010, as an Information Management Officer working within OCHA field locations to manage information whithin the UN agencies and partner organizations.

Benoit Fournier was also deployed to Haiti to work with UNICEF Chief of Child Protection on Monday, February 1, 2010 on a comprehensive child protection program responding to the psychological and social needs of children and their families.

Brenton McLeod joined the IOM as a Protection Officer/Camp Manager on Monday, February 15, 2010, to help ensure that protection issues - including the needs of vulnerable individuals - are properly addressed in  camp coordination and management.
Isabelle Fortin, a Protection Officer and Camp Manager, departed to Haiti to work with the UNHCR and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Friday February 19, 2010, to coordinate and improve protection issues with consideration of gender and the needs of vulnerable individuals.

Thuy Thach, also a Protection Officer and Camp Manager, was deployed on February 19, 2010 to work with the  IOM in Haiti to Liaise with the Protection Cluster, OCHA and other partners to ensure the protection issues are properly addressed in the areas of camp coordination and camp management.  

 Yvon-Loup Jean, joined WFP as logistics Cluster officer for air cargo movement, responsible for all airlift cargo by helicopter. Jean’s expertise in military transport and logistics were of great assistance in his duties: My experience in the Canadian Air Force as a Transport Technician on the C130 Hercules, my knowledge gives a good confidence to the crews of the helicopters and I was able to put in place a loading system”.  His duties within the Air Cargo Movement ended in April; he is now Warehouse Manager, in charge of supervising warehouse staff, storekeepers and tally clerks, and managing the receipt, storage, accounting and reporting of all commodities.

Luciano Hounkponou joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a Protection Officer,  to support the MINUSTAH Human Rights section, and to ensure liaison with international NGOs and grass-roots organizations to support partnership in the protection cluster and facilitate their access to funding.

© UNICEF/2010/Bakody

These deployments were undertaken with the financial support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to the  RAP Fund program: "Millions of people are struggling to overcome the impacts of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Through its contributions to vital United Nations partners such as the World Food Programme and UNICEF, the IFRC, and NGO partners, our government will help support Haitians as they rebuild their lives and communities," said Minister Oda in a January 19 2010 press release. CIDA provided $500,000 in additional funds to CANADEMs RAP FUND (rapid response to humanitarian disasters) to deploy 10 Canadian humanitarian experts to humanitarian partners.

© UNICEF/Bakody

Haiti Cholera Epidemic

CANADEM also deployed humanitarian experts to assist UN agencies in providing immediate and effective assistance to Haitians amidst the Cholera epidemic following the 2010 earthquake.

Thuy Thach and Stephen Lamer were seconded to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as Humanitarian Affairs Officers for a duration of 3 months. OCHA coordinated the emergency response to the earthquake, hurricane Tomas and the outbreak of Cholera. OCHA additional presence at field level was required to ensure proper and adequate coordination mechanisms were in place in the areas of Les Cayes, Cap Haïtien, and Port-de-Paix.  Thuy and Stephen assisted OCHA in coordinating the international community's response from these severely affected locations.

Patrick Saussez, Serge Roy and Steve Colterman were seconded to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) as Emergency Logistics Specialists. They provided operational support to PAHO's activities in Haiti, including organizing housing and work sites, overseeing the purchase, distribution and maintenance of all equipment (medical, technical, vehicules and telecommunications). They also oversaw the management of PAHO's vehicle fleet, staff's transport needs and security. They also managed PAHO stocks and warehouses.

Helene Poliquin and Tabasum Abdul Rusul were seconded to UNICEF Haiti as Emergency Nurses. They strengthened the capacities of local nurses by providing training, mentoring and assistance in treating cholera victims.