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Swiss focus in Haiti switches from relief to reconstruction

Looking out from the inside of a collapsed home in Maniche, Haiti, photo from August 24 Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Switzerland has ended its emergency aid to Haiti, which was struck by a deadly earthquake in mid August. It is now focusing on reconstruction work there.

This content was published on September 10, 2021 - 17:19
FDFA/SWI swissinfo.ch/Reuters/ilj

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern part of the Caribbean island on August 14, killing more than 2,240 people and destroying tens of thousands of homes.

Members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA), which is part of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), were sent over shortly afterwards to help with relief efforts. They were joined by a team on the ground mobilized by the Swiss embassy in Port-au-Prince.

For three weeks, the Swiss experts worked to restore access to drinking water, as well as deliver relief goods and tarpaulins and assess the structural soundness of buildings such as schools, churches and local authority offices.

These operations helped more than 20,000 people, a statementExternal link issued by the FDFA on Friday said.

In all, Switzerland allocated more than CHF4 million ($3.7 million) to respond to the crisis, the statement added.

Long-term

The Swiss cooperation office, which has long been active in Haiti, is now taking over the work and will continue its support projects on a long-term basis, the FDFA said.

It is already planning to rebuild water and sanitation infrastructure with sustainable and participatory financing.

Haiti is a priority country for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

The 320 houses built on the island in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 with SDC facilitation have all withstood the earthquake, saving the lives of 1,600 people, the statement continued. The four community shelters also built at this time provided shelter for a further 1,000 people.

“The SDC is planning to disseminate these earthquake-resistant construction methods on a large scale in collaboration with local authorities,” the statement said.

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