Life-Changing Support During Trying Times: Cash and Voucher Assistance in Haiti

As of early 2023, Haiti continues to experience a major security, social, economic, and public health crisis. Despite the deteriorating security situation, namely tied to armed violence, the Red Cross continues its essential work in support of the people of Haiti. One approach we have taken is providing direct financial assistance for the people who are still recovering from the 2021 Earthquake.
Devastation on a beach in HaitiIn mid-August of 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and subsequent Tropical Depression Grace hit the Great South of Haiti and caused widespread damage to many homes and infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, and water systems, posing a serious threat to the health of many communities. Authorities estimated that nearly 700,000 people were impacted, exacerbating humanitarian needs in a country that has experienced several significant emergencies in the past decade. Following these events, the Canadian Red Cross provided medical experts and equipment to the field hospital operated by the Finnish Red Cross, which provided essential health care to more than 5,200 Haitian people until local medical facilities were able to reopen.

For several months now, the Canadian Red Cross, in partnership with the Haitian Red Cross Society and the American Red Cross has been delivering a 25-month recovery project that supports the provision of equitable health services and assists community members with financial assistance as they rebuild their lives following these events. Informed by the needs identified during the response to Hurricane Mathew in 2018, the Canadian Red Cross conducted extensive assessments and implemented both community engagement initiatives, as well as protection, gender and inclusion initiatives to ensure that the Cash and Voucher Assistance reached primarily the households still recovering from the long-lasting effects of the 2021 Earthquake, especially those with members who experience some type of disability or who have dependents such as children and elderly people.  Communications and training were also key to ensuring trust and safety in the program: posters with messages on prevention and response to sexual exploitation and abuse were displayed at cash out points, volunteers were trained in Community Engagement and Accountability, and could always provide feedback or complaints about the process. To date, the Cash and Voucher Assistance program has enabled 1,400 households in the municipalities of Corail and Pestel, in Grande Anse, to meet their essential humanitarian needs and provides much needed relief during these difficult times. The electronic distribution of funds allows for increased and safe accessibility.

Meet Titus, Jacqueline, Sainte Anise, and Pierre Emmanuel as they share how support from the Cash and Voucher Assistance program has helped them to takes steps forward and recover from the sequential destructive events that have impacted Haiti over the years.

An older man is sitting on a bench and a younger Red Cross member is taking notes by him.
76-year-old Titus Remy, a former fisherman lives near the town of Corail. Ever since his physical condition began preventing him from continuing his work at sea, he has had to rely on help from his community to meet his daily food needs. However, since receiving Cash and Voucher Assistance from the Red Cross, Titus has been able to not only buy food and go to the hospital, but also to purchase supplies and materials to make nets and sell them to other fisherman within the community.

Two people are siting outside with a table next to themJacqueline Comas, 61 years old, lives with her two sons in her Corail home which was left partially destroyed by the 2021 earthquake. The funds from the Cash and Voucher Assistance program helped her to not only repair the damages, but also presented Jacqueline with a more favorable business opportunity.

Before the earthquake, she worked as a Madan Sara, one of the many women working tirelessly to bring food and other essentials from rural areas to city markets throughout the country. This exhausting and perilous work which required Jacqueline to carry heavy loads over long distances, was no longer suitable for her as she grew older. Part of the money distributed by the Red Cross allowed her to shift to a home-based business that sells much needed items such as laundry products to the community, a trade model better suited for her age.

A Red Cross member is sitting with two other peopleSainte Anise Bien Aimé, a 78-year-old widow from Pestel, also received financial support through the Cash and Voucher Assistance program. Following the events from August 2021, the family was facing great financial difficulties. "We couldn't eat regularly anymore," she says.

"Fortunately, everything has changed, thanks to the Red Cross’ financial support. I saved part of the money I received to create a small business, and the other part is used to partially repair the house. I am grateful […], right now, our family eats three times a day.”

Since creating this source of income selling home-made pâté (a baked puff pastry filled with savory fillings) in her community, she can now support her family to help consistently meet their daily needs.

An older man dressed in white is sitting on wood chairPierre Emmanuel Douzable is a 72-year-old man from Pestel with severe hearing impairment. Partially destroyed by the 2021 Earthquake, his house often flooded when it rained.

Thanks to Red Cross financial support, he has repaired his house. Money also allowed the family to receive health care and buy medicine and food supplies.

"I am very grateful to the Canadian Red Cross," he says, "it has really supported me and relieved my family."

He hopes that subsequent support from the CRC and HRCS will continue to help meet the essential needs of the Haitians most severely impacted by the recent events.

Related articles:
How the Red Cross helps to protect and build communities after a disaster
The Red Cross brings hope to people with disabilities in Mali

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