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Updated 10 October 2016


Haiti has declared a state of catastrophe after Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm, hit the south-western region on 4 October 2016.[i]  The southern peninsula has been heavily damaged by winds and flooding. Haiti has been the hardest hit in the region and many say the worst is yet to come for Haitians; the full extent of damage is not yet known with the assessment phase delayed due to severe weather conditions and lack of ground access.[ii] Communications in affected areas are still limited, with no mobile communications, and roads are inaccessible due to flooding[iii].  This humanitarian emergency comes six years after an earthquake devastated the small island nation with many people still living in temporary shelters.

Key data

  •  Population of Haiti is 10.9 million, and an estimated 2.1 million are affected with more than 1.4 million in need of assistance.[iv] 
  • More than 1,000 people have been killed, though this figure is expected to rise.[v] 
  • The 2016 Presidential Election has been postponed.
  • Southern Haiti is cut off after the bridge linking it to the capital of Port-au-Prince collapsed.[vi] 
  • 2,000 children were evacuated and schools are closed. [vii]   
  • Up to 80% of harvest lost in some areas, WFP Office in South-East Haiti indicates.[viii]

Key relief issues

Emergency relief

  •  1.4 million people are in need of immediate assistance; the humanitarian community is prioritizing people located in temporary shelters for urgent humanitarian response.[ix]
  •  Up to 80% of homes in the south are reportedly damaged and nearly 60,000 people are staying in temporary shelters.[x]


  • Haiti is in the midst of a cholera epidemic and food insecurity and water insecurity have been worsened by the storm.
  • Since the storm, 70 cases of cholera have been reported adding to an ongoing cholera outbreak that has already killed 10,000 people and made 800,000 ill since 2010 when the disease was introduced into the country’s biggest river.[xii]
  • Access to clean water and sanitation and hygiene supplies will be crucial to prevent the spread of illness.[xiii]

Food insecurity  

  • Food production is compromised for the current and following crop cycle in the most affected areas. Up to 100% of harvest lost have been reported in the South, putting pressure on food resources.[xiv]

Disproportionate effect on children

  • Nearly half the population of Haiti is under 18 (4.6 million of 10.9 million). Half a million children live in the areas hardest hit.[xv] 
  • 300 schools have sustained heavy damage and at least 150 schools throughout the country are being used to shelter evacuees.  Schools will remain closed until 10 October.[xvi]

Recommended relief organizations

Emergency relief

  • UNICEF: UNICEF had prepositioned emergency supplies with national authorities to reach up to 10,000 people. Additional water and sanitation supplies, such as water purification tablets, water bladders and plastic sheeting, have been dispatched to the most affected areas in the westernmost tip of Haiti.[xvii] 


  •  Partners in Health: Partners in Health have been working for nearly three decades in Haiti and is the largest nongovernment health care provider serving an area of 2.5 million people with a staff of more than 5,700.[xviii] The 12 health centers Partners in Health supports in Haiti’s central region have continued operating as usual. They are currently working to get more supplies to these facilities, as well as to their 10 cholera treatment centers in anticipation of a likely spike in cholera cases. [xix]
  • International Medical Corps: International Medical Corps have deployed a mobile medical unit, conducted the first multi-sectoral assessment on Ile a Vache and delivered water purification tablets to both sides of the island. IMC is seeking support to launch mobile medical clinics and water, sanitation and hygiene services for overcrowded shelters.


  • UNICEF:  UNICEF is setting up temporary learning spaces so that children can resume their learning; and supporting child protection services to protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse.[xx]


  • World Food Programme (WFP): WFP has 25 tons of food in Jeremie (Grand-Anse) for distributions to start immediately. The food rations will enable 9,000 people to meet their immediate food needs for one week.[xxi] WFP is conducting an Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) in the areas most affected.[xxii]

Recommended social media messaging

  •  Half a million children live in areas of Haiti hardest hit by #HurricaneMatthew. Support @UNICEF’s relief efforts:
  •  Help @PIH help Haiti, after #HurricaneMatthew devastates the small island nation:
  •  2.1M people affected by the destruction of #HurricaneMatthew in Haiti. Help @WFP get food and relief to survivors:  
  •  Support @IMC_Worldwide to launch mobile medical clinics and help Haiti recover from #HurricaneMatthew:

[iii] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Ibid.

[xvi] Ibid.
[xvii] Ibid.