FLO's Liaison Officer for Haiti gives update on relief effort
1 March 2010
FLO’s liaison officer for Haiti, Jean-Marc Vital, was at FLO’s offices in Bonn last week to inform staff face-to-face about the conditions and needs of Haitian Fairtrade producers, and to receive a financial contribution to the relief effort, donated collectively by Fairtrade staff.
Conditions remain incredibly difficult in Haiti, but Jean-Marc spoke of the great encouragement and hope the Haitians have found in the support that Fairtrade producers and staff have offered them.
Almost immediately after the earthquake struck, Fairtrade staff and producers began looking for ways to help the Haitian producers. That help came in the form of financial support from FLO, which was used to purchase 108 food and medical kits. Fairtrade producers in the Dominican Republic also rallied together, forming a committee to decide how best to respond, and have to date distributed over 300 food kits to Fairtrade families in Haiti, as well as supplies of water and medication. Further help has also come from the CLAC (Fairtrade’s Producer Network for Latin America & the Caribbean), Malongo Café (a French Fairtrade licensee), not to mention many other initiatives started by individual organizations and producers.
Frito Merisier, who heads the Haitian Fairtrade producer network, expressed his gratitude to all members of the Fairtrade Family that have contributed to the relief effort: “It is a wonderful gesture of solidarity, which we greatly appreciate. A big thank you to FLO and to the Dominican producers”.
Despite these efforts there is still much work to be done in the weeks and months to come. There are over 20 000 Fairtrade producers in Haiti, meaning that more food and medical supplies are still needed if all are to be reached. The rainy season is also approaching, with many people still living in makeshift shelters that will not protect them adequately from the elements.
In a presentation to FLO staff, Jean-Marc said: “We have the will to keep fighting, and invite you to support any efforts to help the Haitian people…they deserve better than what they have now”.
FLO and the Fairtrade movement as a whole are busy looking into ways to support Haiti long-term. FLO is drafting a funding proposal to support the rebuilding of Haiti and to increase the production capacity of Fairtrade producers there. Links to other funding partners for humanitarian help are also being explored. The CLAC, along with Fairtrade producers in the Dominican Republic and other organisations have also committed to offer further long-term support.
Rob Cameron, Chief Executive of FLO summed up the situation by saying: “In times like these, the worst of times, it becomes crystal clear that Fairtrade must make a difference by continuing to work on the goals of broadening, strengthening and deepening our impact for the producers.”