MSH and Partners Commemorate One-Year Earthquake Anniversary, Discuss Nonprofit and Business Collaborations for Recovery and Development

Washington, DC − InterAction and the Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) along with FedEx organized an event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to commemorate the first year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed an estimated three hundred thousands people. MSH with fellow InterAction member organizations and other stakeholders emphasized continuing commitments to rebuilding Haiti and discussed the importance of cross-sector collaborations for post-earthquake recovery and development.

With the onset of the cholera epidemic, MSH has provided key support on the ground through its three projects in Haiti: the Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) program, the Leadership Management and Sustainability program (LMS), supporting distribution of emergency relief supplies and family planning commodities, and the Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haïti (SDSH) project for the provision of a basic package of health services. MSH’s projects serve about 43% of the Haitian population and are present in all ten geographical departments with a fair balance of partners from the private and public sectors.

Haitian health expert Georges Dubuche represented MSH. He is Senior Technical Advisor for Private Sector Coordination for the MSH-led, USAID-funded SDSH project, based in Port-au-Prince. The panel discussion included: Maury Donahue, FedEx Corporation; Mesh Gelman, Choose Haiti; Stephen Jordan, Business Civic Leadership Center; John Keller, Proteus On-Demand Facilities; Michael Webster, Dow Chemical Company; and Sam Worthington, President and CEO of InterAction led the discussion.

Dr. Dubuche started the session with a symbolic 25 seconds of silence for Haitians: 25 seconds was all it took to destroy a nation. Dr. Dubuche emphasized the need for partnerships such as recent ones between MSH and Pure Water, which is providing safe-drinking water, and with Containers to Clinics (C2C) to build new clinics out of recycled shipping containers. Such partnerships are needed to find new efficient ways of providing necessities to Haitian people, he said.

Dr. Dubuche summarized MSH’s work in Haiti over the last 30 years, including the introduction of performance-based financing in the mid-nineties, which has since expanded with the support of the World Bank.

Role of Partnerships

The panel speakers all emphasized, like Dr. Dubuche, the necessity for partnerships between various sectors and nonprofit organizations. For example, though the BCLC has not always been known for responding to environmental disasters, the situation in Haiti rallied a strong sense of social responsibility. This resulted in $147.8 million cash contribution, the fourth largest donation from the business community in humanitarian contexts, which was used to purchase basic necessities.

Haiti Aid Map

Cross-sector partnership and cooperation were exemplified by the Haiti Aid Map, which was launched at this event by Julie Montgomery, the Senior Manager and Technical Specialist in Innovation and Learning at InterAction. This project is the result of cooperation among InterAction, FedEx, and all the organizations providing timely and accurate information.

This large, online database currently documents 490 active projects from 77 organizations and gives detailed information on “who is doing what, where?”  The Aid Map aims to:

  • Assure the accountability of the organizations and their activities
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  • Avoid the duplication of activities and create partnerships
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  • Help organizations to make smart decision on where to invest

The information collected from the organizations can be filtered in various ways such as by sectors, by organizations, or by locations and presented through tables or maps. As a call to action, Julie Montgomery described the database as only “as good as the data,” thereby encouraging organizations to continuously update their information.

Marketing Haiti

Members of the audience, particularly Haitian Americans, expressed concerns that the attention on Haiti was waning despite a strong call for progress. Answering this, several business-minded panelists spoke about social responsibility, how to “market Haiti” in order to increase investments, and most importantly how to involve Haitians in that process.

Despite the risky business environment, many entrepreneurs and companies, such as Choose Haiti, have found opportunities to work with Haitians to generate demand for Haitian-made products, create jobs, and revive the Haitian tradition of recycling. For instance, Choose Haiti began its work in Haiti to provide blankets and recently has created a market for bracelets made from recycled water bottles, which sell for $10. Other creative entrepreneurial ideas were shared during the question and answer session.

 

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