Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Eighty percent of the country’s people live in poverty and over 50 percent live in extreme poverty. When hurricane Matthew hit earlier this month, bringing with it 145-mile-per-hour winds and massive flooding, Haiti hadn’t even recovered from the 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 people and decimated the country’s infrastructure.
After that disaster, a host of disaster recovery and relief nonprofits were quick to jump in, donating time, money, and much needed supplies. (Haiti's reconstruction efforts have been famously troubled, though.)
The response to hurricane Matthew hasn’t been quite as quick—it appears that everyone is treading a bit more lightly, here—but funding dollars are coming in.
Most notably, the Gates Foundation awarded two emergency response grants totaling $2.8 million to address the immediate needs of affected communities. Of that, $2.4 million was awarded to International Medical Corps (IMC) for its work providing access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and hygiene supplies. IMC is also earmarking a portion of its Gates grant for the prevention and treatment of cholera. It’s estimated that the Haitian cholera outbreak began in late 2010, resulting in an estimated 700,000 cases and contributing to the deaths of around 10,000 people.
The remaining $400,000 was awarded to CARE International, which is focusing its energies on access to clean drinking water, providing basic emergency supplies and the construction of toilets and handwashing stations.
Both IMC and CARE will be working in Grand Anse and Sud, two of the areas hardest hit by the hurricane.
This Gates funding is a reminder of a point we make often—namely that Gates is a major player in the disaster and refugee space, even though we don't tend to associate the foundation with such work. This stream of funding is, indeed, small for Gates, but it's big by any other standard.
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are pitching in as well, having committed to provide $2 million in product and cash donations to groups engaged with relief efforts. Part of that promise includes $500,000 in donations to be split between CARE and Team Rubicon.
Another funder quick to respond is the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation, which recently announced that it would match up to $250,000 in funds donated to Hope for Haiti for hurricane response activities. The Parsons Foundation, as well as Bob Parson’s company GoDaddy, have an established history of supporting Haiti. In 2013, GoDaddy raised over $500,000 and the Parsons Foundation donated close to $4 million for earthquake relief efforts. That same year, the foundation made a $2.5 million commitment to improve two schools in Les Cayes.
The Western Union Foundation—a familiar name in humanitarian aid and relief circles—has also hopped on board with a few forms of assistance. It’s offering zero-fee transactions to Haiti from countries around the world in which Western Union has business operations. It’s also offering a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $50,000 for qualifying contributions made by Western Union Agents and a 2:1 match of employee donations up to $25,000. Finally, the foundation awarded Mercy Corps a $25,000 grant toward emergency services, food, and WASH efforts.
The Ikea Foundation, another familiar name in humanitarian aid and disaster recovery and relief circles, stepped up, too. Its overall mission is to help vulnerable children around the world. In line with that mission, Ikea has awarded Save the Children €200,000 to set up “child-friendly spaces,” provide classroom supplies, and set up a system to reunite children separated from their families during the hurricane.
Notably, the Ikea Foundation recently signed a €5 million funding framework agreement with Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Per the agreement, Save the Children will have access of up to €2 million “within 72 hours of a category-one disaster.” Although a definitive timeframe isn’t laid out in Ikea’s agreement with MSF, the foundation’s website reports that “MSF will be able to access emergency grants of up to €3 million to help children and their families survive” disasters.
Unsurprisingly, the UPS Foundation has jumped in to help, mobilizing its sophisticated disaster relief logistical operation and pledging $1 million in financial and in-kind support. UPS says it's using its global network to deliver more than 600,000 pounds of relief supplies in Haiti, "including food and shelter, solar lighting, comfort kits, school supplies, antibiotics, medication and water purification packets to help combat Cholera."
On that last point, UPS reports that its jets delivered 100 metric tons of antibiotics and water purification tablets for UNICEF" from Denmark and that its ships are "transporting ocean containers for MAP International with antibiotics, medical equipment, and water purification supplies to Haiti."
This effort by UPS is a reminder of its growing importance in the disaster relief space, a trend we report on often. It's a textbook example of a corporation leveraging its unique assets and special skills to engage in high-impact philanthropy.
Also worth mentioning on the current funding list are the NFL Foundation and the Lions Club.
The NFL Foundation, which isn’t really in the business of making disaster recovery and relief grants, has pledged $100,000 to be split between UNICEF and the Salvation Army. The foundation has pledged a total of $300,000 for Hurricane Matthew relief efforts; however, the remaining $200,000 is will fund relief for affected U.S. communities. The Lions Club International Foundation awarded an initial $10,000 emergency grant to address the immediate needs of disaster victims and is also preparing up to 1,500 kits packed with food and medicine.
One outstanding question: Which funders will stick around to help with the reconstruction after Matthew? Also: Will the global humanitarian aid world show that it's learned from its past failings in Haiti?