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Haiti emergency logistics from the ground

May 25th, 2010 | By: Martin Arrand

More interesting stuff in Focus (shock, horror!) In the May 2010 edition Maggie Heraty describes what she saw and experienced while on mission with RedR. Maggie arrived in Haiti just over three weeks after the earthquake to identify training needs for NGO staff in the immediate disaster response phase, and longer term looking at recovery and rebuilding. This was a joint programme by RedR and the French NGO Bioforce and covered water, sanitation, shelter, site planning and other subjects, including of course logistics.

As with Mike Whiting’s article in April which I summarised last week, Maggie’s account makes clear the scale of the problem. She describes: people camped informally throughout the city; a government infrastructure so shattered that vehicle registration and testing was wiped out (leaving NGOs to drive vehicles with foreign or no number plates); Land Registry destroyed making it harder to take over new sites for formal camps.

The UN Cluster system under OCHA seems to have helped (where NGOs got took advantage of the clusters). The Logistics Cluster was well attended, though Maggie notes that Logs Cluster staff mostly struggled with the meetings that were held in French – Maggie’s too modest to mention she is a fluent French speaker herself. Where agencies didn’t join Cluster efforts, she notes, there was duplication of effort.

Good to see that technology was put to use (albeit with difficult comms infrastructure – satellite links creaking at busy times causing slow connections). Info was shared on Googlegroups; Google Earth updated with refreshed satellite pics and overlaid with coordinates of sites. United Nations Disaster Assessment Group (UNDAG) provided free wifi at the Log Base, as did Télécoms Sans Frontières.

Again, CILT members should be able to read this on line. There’s supposed to be another article next month specifically about the Logs Cluster in Haiti.

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