Sunday morning, Jayatii awoke to the sound of pattering rain drops through the broad leafy banana trees, and the slow steady dripping of water through leaky roof of her tent on the roof of the AMURTEL headquarters. In the dim, groggy light of early morning, her first thoughts rushed to the people in the camps. Most of the 11,000 people displaced by the earthquake living in the camps that AMURTEL is overseeing, are staying in huts hastily made of corrugated tin, scraps of wood, and tarps.
A surplus of tarps were still lying in the AMURTEL depot, and Jayatii’s conscience would not rest until she found a way to distribute them to the people getting wet and muddy in the slow steady rainfall. So, at 6 am, she and Ramakrsna sketched out a plan to distribute tarps to the women in the camp in Citroen. Later that morning, an AMURTEL team handed out cards to the women in the camp, and returned a few hours later in the afternoon with the tarps. When the AMURTEL vehicles arrived, the camp committee quickly cordoned off an area for the women to stand in queue, and the distribution was organized with surprising ease and efficiency. 133 tarps were distributed in about 20 minutes.
AMURTEL- relief distribution in 14 camps serving 11,000 people
AMURTEL has been designated to manage the distribution of relief goods in 14 campsin the Boudon valley. The valley is formed by a river that frequently floods in the monsoon season. Already, deforestation causes soil to erode into the river bed, thus blocking up the river bed and causing flooding. However, this phenomenon is expected to increase this year when the rubble from the earthquake is washed into the river bed, and is expected to cause even more severe flooding and mudslides. Many of the camps are perched dangerously close to the river, and the UN has already identified 9 of the camps as at high risk, and is making plans for relocating them. Many people are being encouraged to leave Port-au-Prince and resettle with relatives or friends in the countryside. However, the people in the countryside are living in extremely impoverished circumstances with stretched resources, and cannot absorb the influx of displaced people.
Long-term – building the capacity of rural communities to absorb earthquake survivors AMURTEL’s long term strategy is to strengthen the capacity of the rural communities to absorb the people returning to the countryside, through sustainable integrated development projects that would build the local rural economy and infrastructure. In the meantime, AMURTEL continues to provide basic distribution to all 14 camps, and is starting semi-permanent recovery programs in the 5 camps that are expected to remain more long-term. Already latrines have been constructed in 5 camps in partnership with Haven Partnership. A new partnership has formed with Global Grassroots, to provide clean water and do women’s empowerment programs. On Sunday, Global Grassroots and AMURTEL had a womens group in the Sitron camp and shared relaxation techniques with the women to support their recovery process and stress management.