World Vision's Response Q&A

World Vision’s Haiti country program manager, Amy Knorr, talks about the current situation in Haiti and World Vision’s response over the past year.

Q: You lived in Haiti from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2006 to 2007. Since the earthquake, you have returned four times. What stands out from your visits?

A: “Everyone there has lost someone. Everybody has been affected [by the earthquake], and it is heartbreaking. [But] the Haitian people are the most resilient and incredibly strong people I have ever met ... There is great faith and resilience in Haiti. Within days after the earthquake, people were back setting up their stands in the markets.”

Q: Now that a year has passed, what’s the situation like?

A: “It is very overwhelming there right now, with so many people still living in tents and temporary shelters — there still are more than 1 million people in tents because of the land tenure and allocation obstacles in and around Port-au-Prince ...
“Many people are feeling a sense of despair and fear after living in tents for [so] long. In some of the camps, there is not a great sense of security.”

Q: Can you explain the obstacles surrounding land allocation?

“Land tenure has been a ... difficult issue to address. It has been extremely [challenging] to determine who owns the titles to many property areas in and around Port-au-Prince. Because these titles have not been documented, many agencies have been unable to build transitional housing on those properties.”

Q: How is World Vision responding to the need for shelter and improved security?

A: “World Vision staff members have helped build [more than 620] transitional homes and are moving people out of the camps into the transitional housing. Long-term, we plan to build more than 3,500 transitional shelters ...

“In camps where World Vision is working, staff are also working with committees for security patrol and supporting sensitization around gender-based violence ...

“There are World Vision staff who have been living in tents, and they continue to work diligently each day. There were about 800 World Vision staff in Haiti when the earthquake hit, and now there are close to 1,200 people working to meet needs in Port-au-Prince and surrounding communities.”

Q: What’s one area where World Vision’s programs have had a profound impact?

A: “The water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in the camps have worked especially well. There is an incredible risk of disease spreading quickly with so many people living in the camps. So, maintaining improved sanitation facilities ... building awareness, and providing training about proper hygiene are essential to prevent illnesses.

Q: How does emergency response fit into World Vision’s overall development strategy around the world?

A: “Through our emergency response programs, we [immediately] respond to help communities facing disasters, and this response also complements our development work.

“From six weeks to six months, staff respond to immediate needs and facilitate cash-for-work programs to help restore livelihoods. Programs like these bolster the transition from emergency response work to long-term development and address the root causes of poverty in communities affected by disasters.”

Q: The people of Haiti are slowly beginning to recover from this disaster. What can you share about the continued need for support from World Vision and generous donors in the U.S.?

A: “There is an incredible need, and a call to show our solidarity with the poor. There are more than 1 million people still living in tents on an island that is a 90-minute flight from the United States ... World Vision is still trucking water into the camps, distributing food, maintaining sanitation facilities, and [helping to meet] basic needs ...”

Q: How can we pray for the people of Haiti and World Vision’s continued work on behalf of quake-affected families?

A: “Please continue to pray for the resilience and safety of the Haitian people. Also pray for the staff in Haiti — that they will not be discouraged and that they can stay motivated to do God’s work .”

Q: The road to recovery is a long one. Do you see hope for the future of Haiti?

A: “There is an incredible amount of hope that we can build back Haiti to be [even] better. There is great coordination among non-governmental organization partners who want to rebuild sustainable, sound buildings and prioritize education in Haiti.”