Women lead Haiti earthquake response

Thousands of women and children have been left homeless by a massive earthquake in Haiti.

When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit on the Saturday morning of the 14 August, people were just beginning to wake up and start their day. Some were gathered with their families eating breakfast or had just said goodbye before leaving for work when the earth began to tremor below their feet.  


The devastation that followed has left more than 2,000 people dead and 12,200 injured. The disaster has also caused widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure leaving many families in desperate need of shelter and food.  

Ezeline’s home collapsed in the earthquake forcing her and her four children to live on the streets in a makeshift shelter.  

“Since the earthquake, I find myself on the street with four children (three girls and a boy) for whom I am both mother and father,” said Ezeline. “I am so traumatised that I cannot close my eyes at night. Last night, with the onset of the rain, the children and I were forced to spend the night under a makeshift roof by the side of the street while the temperature was so cold.” 

Many women and children have been left traumatised by the disaster and are in urgent need of psychological support.  

Catherine, a resident of Jérémie, was at work when the earthquake struck. She rushed home to find her family camped outside the house afraid to go back inside.  

“It has affected us a lot – our six-year-old hasn’t been the same since and he isn’t eating at the moment,” said Catherine. “He keeps on waking up saying ‘mummy, the earth is shaking, mummy, the earth is shaking’. He’s not at ease, each day that goes by.”  

ActionAid’s emergency response is being led by women’s organisations. A network of women leaders, trained by ActionAid Haiti as first responders, have been deployed to the most impacted areas of Jérémie and Les Cayes to provide emergency relief to affected families. 

A member of ActionAid’s First Responders Network helping an earthquake survivor.

 Women-led responses are uniquely placed to respond to the specific needs of women and girls, including tackling the risk of an increase in gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies. 

ActionAid will reach at least 2,000 affected households with emergency shelter, food, protection services for women and girls and essential items like blankets, pillows, hygiene and dignity kits. We also plan to offer psychosocial support for recovery from trauma.  

“[I] need help with [my] three children because during this moment right now I’m really shocked,” said Natacha. “I don’t have a husband, I don’t have someone to help us. At the moment I’m also my children’s dad. I’m really shocked by what’s happened. I’m asking spare a thought for me and please don’t forget me.” 

Existing programs in Haiti will be scaled up to provide cash and food support to more than 10,000 families in Les Cayes and Jérémie.   

Donate today to support women like Ezeline, Catherine and Natacha through this emergency.