Haiti is one of the most hurricane-prone countries on the planet. The Caribbean country is regularly battered by tropical storms and floods and has also been struck by powerful earthquakes.
Extensive deforestation which began on a large scale in the mid-1980s, has left the country's hillsides exposed and unable to hold water. The ensuing floods destroy crops and livelihoods. In 2008, 70% of Haiti's crops were wiped out during the hurricanes.
Another significant consequences of disasters is the impact they have on children’s education, which is often one of the first activities abandoned when disasters occur.
When Hurricane Matthew hit the country in October 2016, At least 300 schools in the region were destroyed or were being used as shelters, meaning over 100,000 children were missing class, according to UNICEF.
As part of Plan International’s Safe Schools Global Programme, we are increasing the resilience of school communities against hurricanes by building strong disaster-proof school buildings and implementing school emergency and preparedness plans.
At schools in the Southeastern part of the country, we have installed rain gauges which the students use to measure rainfall and track the amount of falling water, this allows them to predict when floods are likely to occur.
I am proud to teach the colours of the alert flags to the children in my community
Teacher Lafleur Marquise, explains: “Plan International not only installed the gauge for us, but has trained the students and the teachers to read the quantity of rain that falls in the community during certain times of the year.”
By empowering children through participation in disaster management committees and planning, including identification of potential hazards and vulnerabilities, we are strengthening their knowledge, skills and attitudes towards building a culture of safety.
Schools have also been equipped with a range of colourful flags to inform pupils and community members when an alert has been raised. The flags, in green, yellow, orange and red, relate to the severity of the emergency.
“Plan International has really helped us and I am proud to teach the colours of the alert flags to the children in my community so that they know what to do before, during and after a hurricane,” says 15-year-old student Mickensie.