July 24, 2010
First Disaster Preparedness Training in Haiti
HSI and partners offer three-day workshop to vets
by Chris Broughton-Bossong
One aspect of HSI’s long-term commitment to Haiti is to provide a series of disaster response and preparedness trainings for veterinarians in the country. In offering such sessions, our goal is to facilitate greater local capability and cooperation among vets in areas that are prone to flooding, hurricanes, fires and earthquakes.
On April 14, 2010, HSI collaborated with the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, the UN ISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) and Christian Veterinary Missions to host a three-day disaster preparedness and response training for 60 of Haiti's veterinarians and vet agents. During the workshop, we discussed preparations plans, communications strategies, resource sharing and other methods of increasing their existing capacity. Attendees showed a tremendous level of interest. As this was one of the first times that animal disaster response has been presented to them as a need they could address, such a response was very encouraging.
Often, disasters are thought of as only including cataclysmic natural events that cannot be foreseen or avoided. In fact, any event, natural or man-made, need only overwhelm the local ability to cope to become a catastrophe. For example, a moderate rainfall need only engorge an otherwise calm river, raising water levels enough to flood a village and wash away subsistence crops, to devastate the individuals in that region. Our training will enable veterinarians throughout Haiti to respond to the needs of their fellow citizens. We will aid in turning them into ambassadors and teachers within their communities. Assessing the natural predispositions of an area and the needs of local residents and animal inhabitants can prevent tremendous suffering and unnecessary loss of life when the unthinkable does occur.
We will continue to work closely with veterinary professionals in Haiti to build a viable network for emergency communication, preparedness and response for local people and animals. It is through the cultivation and growth of such individual and group initiatives that the country as a whole will become both more capable of responding to disasters and more resilient in the wake of them.
Chris Broughton-Bossong is Haiti Program Coordinator for HSI.