With a death toll rising over 2,200 people and over 12,000 plus injured, the earthquake that struck the southern region of Haiti on Saturday, August 14, 2021, has caused incalculable damage to 130,000 homes. Almost two weeks after the devastating earthquake, Haitians are still searching for food, water and shelter anywhere they can.
The passage of Tropical Depression Grace worsened conditions through heavy rains in surrounding areas still reeling from the earthquake. The delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance has grown difficult, causing heightened distress as hundreds of civilians remain missing from their families.
Even before the impact of the earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic, Haiti has consistently faced challenges to its economic and social development, be it issues of political instability, financial decline, or natural disasters. The unfortunate events over the last year are ultimately leading back to the extreme poverty that locals have been struggling with for years.
FINCA’s Emergency Response Fund
In response to the devastating impacts of the earthquake, FINCA Canada has set up an Emergency Response Fund, which will go directly towards the critical relief and recovery efforts for residents, FINCA staff, clients and their families during this difficult time. Local FINCA staff are currently conducting field visits to ensure their clients’ wellbeing and to assess damages they incurred.
As of now, FINCA has responded to the crisis in Haiti by:
- Sending cash transfers via MonCash to help staff members and their families as many have lost family members and their homes
- Distributing of canned food items, hygiene supplies and tents to help staff members and their families
- Conducting field assessments by the Chief Commercial Officer to learn more about the condition of Southern Haiti and its impacts on the people FINCA serves
- Amplified call centre support to gather information about client’s safety
Fortunately, the work that FINCA Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada, carried out in Haiti prior to the earthquake is proving invaluable. FINCA agents have been utilizing MonCash, a mobile money service that facilitates reliable, safe and accessible transactions to ensure that financial support is able to reach clients who are in desperate need. Additional financial resources are desperately needed to respond to crises such as earthquakes, as organizations are often under-resourced by assisting in multiple relief efforts for simultaneous crises in the country. MonCash is a seamless service and financial tool, commonly used for the digital transfer of emergency cash when branches are closed for safety reasons.
The call centers and remote working capabilities that FINCA Canada and the Government of Canada supported are also proving critical in the ability to reach and support clients. Using these resources and the Emergency Response Fund, FINCA Haiti quickly reached all 5200 clients in the area determining that 60 percent had been impacted by the earthquake, with 822 having their business and/or house destroyed. This allowed FINCA Haiti to immediately support clients by restructuring their loan payments or forgiving their loan in cases of total loss. Additionally, FINCA Haiti is working quickly to provide new loans to allow clients to restart their businesses. Given that 80 percent of the clients are Madan Sara, women who work in market stalls providing critical access to food and supplies, the ability to buy new inventory and restart their business quickly is especially important during the disaster.
Findings from FINCA’s Financial Inclusion Project show the Value of Ongoing Support
FINCA Canada’s Emergency Response Fund and support of relief efforts are part of its larger ongoing commitment to help clients in Haiti and the DRC reach financial independence through the Financial Inclusion Project. In partnership with Global Affairs Canada, the Financial Inclusion Project aims to promote economic wellbeing for low-income women and men in Haiti.
Through the Financial Inclusion Project, FINCA Canada has:
- Helped almost 100,000 people register for FINCA’s client services
- Assisted over 2,000 clients with agriculture loans and provided technical assistance for business development, natural resource management and climate change adaptation
- Given loans to micro-enterprises along with financial literacy programs aimed at helping empower women in the region
- Improved access to mobile savings services for over 120,000 low-income individuals
Creating access to financial services and opportunities for clients to improve their economic and social wellbeing are crucial tasks that have become increasingly important as the already impoverished clients of Haiti suffer through the COVID-19 pandemic, earthquake and destructive storms.
For years, FINCA has worked to stabilize the personal finances of citizens in developing countries, particularly with women. Following the devastating effects of the earthquake, women are now met with intensified financial constraints, whether they are business owners or managing domestic budgets. In order to financially support both men and women, while catering to their different banking approaches, programs are still needed to keep women, their families and their businesses, thriving.
The full impact of the earthquake remains unknown as many remain unaccounted for, and with turbulent weather creating more issues for those affected by the quake and those who are trying their best to help them. With these multitudes of challenges being faced concurrently, it is more important now than ever to support the people of Haiti.
At FINCA Canada, women’s financial inclusion is a human right, which is why we are committed to helping 120,000 women in Haiti and the DRC through the OppHERtunity Campaign, supporting the financial inclusion and economic recovery of women.
If you would like to donate to the FINCA Canada Emergency Response Fund, you can visit the link to donate directly.