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Hurricane Jeanne: CARE Haiti’s Response to the Emergency
Lessons Learned Workshop / After Action Review
January 5 and 6, 2005
INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................. 1
BACKGROUND ................................................................................................................ 1
DESCRIPTION OF CARE’s EMEGENCY RESPONSE.................................................. 2
Key Challenges ............................................................................................................... 3
Other Activities............................................................................................................... 4
Coordination. Cooperation and Support ......................................................................... 5
WORKSHIP METHODOLOGY AND PROCESS ........................................................... 6
Participants...................................................................................................................... 6
Schedule/Process............................................................................................................. 7
SUMMARY OF LESSONS LEARNED.......................................................................... 10
GROUP 5: LOGISTICS AND SECURITY .................................................................. 17
GROUP 6: STAFFING ................................................................................................... 18
ANNEX A: Action Plan................................................................................................... 20
ANNEX B: Chronology of Events .................................................................................. 21
ANNEX C: Lessons learned – Media (Individual Perspective) ...................................... 23
In order to evaluate the quality of CARE’s emergency response to Hurricane
Jeanne in Haiti and to share what was learned across the CARE family, a lessons
learned workshop was held at the Hotel Montana in Piétonville, on January 5
and 6, 2005. This report includes a brief overview of the events that took place
from September to December 2004, a description of the workshop process and
methodology, and a summary of the priority “positive” and “negative” lessons
The approach of Hurricane Jeanne over Haiti was announced on Wednesday,
September 15th, 2004. By Friday, there were heavy rains and tropical storms,
which lasted until Sunday. The north and northwest regions experienced major
flooding, with reports of between 2-3 meters of water and landslides in
Gonaives, Port de Paix, Bassin Bleu, and Chansolmes, all of which are in CARE
Haiti’s main operational areas. The number of confirmed deaths continued to
rise over the next few days, including one CARE employee who drowned while
trying to save others. CARE was able to locate and confirm the safety of all other
staff by September 22nd.
Early assessments in Gonaives confirmed that the extent and scope of damage
was significant, including destruction of at least 5,000 homes, massive loss of
livestock, and widespread crop failure. The immediate relief needs were food,
shelter and potable water. As the waters began to recede, a second issue was
collection and burial of corpses, both human and animal. The hospital and
morgue were extensively damaged and bodies were lying in the streets, where
they decayed rapidly in the heat; combined with the water and mud conditions,
this posed immediate and extreme health risks in a densely populated area.
Although the scope of damage was not quite as great in Bassin Bleu, Port de Paix
and other areas, the impact of the flood was great and food was a serious need.
An estimated 170,000 people were severely affected, 130,000 in Gonaives and the
rest in the remainder of Artibonite and Northwest Departments.
Distributions of food, water and non-food items:
CARE was well positioned to undertake distributions as soon as the waters
abated. Since they were already preparing for a drought response, they were
able to divert food in the CARE Gonaives warehouse to a humanitarian aid
operation with donor approval (USAID and Gates Foundation). Food
distributions were based on verbal commitments from WFP and USAID to cover
costs of operations and replenish food already in warehouse.
Targeted distribution in the beginning posed the risk of rioting, so CARE
decided to do general distributions first. CARE identified 10 potential general
distribution sites, opened the first one for bread and water distribution on
Tuesday, September 22, then three more sites on Wednesday Sept 23 for family
rations of grains, oil and pulses. Opening of new sites was limited by ability of
MINUSTAH to secure the area (see security below).
Water was distributed in ½ liter sachets until water tankers started arriving.
Then potable water was distributed at 11 kiosks for over 10,000 families a day.
The ICRC and ACF helped ensure that water was treated and kiosks functional.
CARE also provided SNEP with fuel to restart the water treatment and
distribution plant in Gonaives.
Food and water distribution reached over 160,000 people, nearly the entire
estimated population affected by the floods. General distributions were
scheduled through October, despite pipeline disruptions due to poor road
conditions (see access below), and strikes and political instability in Port au
Prince, which closed the port and delayed the release of food.
Meanwhile CARE began planning targeted food distributions by November, as
had been agreed with WFP. Local community leaders helped develop a list of
the most vulnerable households. Local media broadcasts and press conferences
helped raise public awareness of new program mandates and targeting criteria,
in order to avoid the tensions and hostilities encountered during general
distributions. CARE aimed to reach 85,000 people or 17,000 families over a fourmonth period with monthly rations.
CARE employees and their families who had lost their homes and possessions
were immediately housed and fed in the CARE compound (up to 350 people).
Journalists and staff from CARE PaP, CI, and other NGOs also stayed there.
Key Challenges
Access and communication
Access to the town of Gonaives was severely limited until the flood waters went
down. CARE Gonaives staff was initially grounded, and staff movement was
limited in other affected areas. Thirteen WFP trucks with 40 MT of food were
dispatched from PaP on September 22; a drive that normally takes 3.5 hours took
over 8 hours and only 10 trucks had arrived by end of the day. The road
remained in poor condition, with major parts a large shallow lake, and by
October 7th it had collapsed completely. A detour route was extremely slow and
large trucks were unable to pass. Use of UN helicopters was limited because
MINUSTAH got priority.
Radio contact was consistent; phone contacts were intermittent with Gonaives,
more consistent between Port de Paix and PaP. CARE Atlanta, other CI
members and CARE Haiti were in regular contact.
Safety of staff was always CARE’s main priority, while security was a major
constraint to smooth delivery of humanitarian aid. For fear of creating chaos and
possible danger for staff, food distributions were not begun immediately. All
donated food and non-food items (from WFP and other INGOs) were stored in
the CARE compound and the population was aware that more resources were
coming in than going out initially, which raised tensions. Trucks carrying food in
convoys had to struggle through desperate crowds to get into the compound and
there were a few casualties. MINUSTAH forces posted at the CARE compound
and at distribution sites routinely used tear gas to disburse crowds. While not
wanting to be closely identified with the military, CARE needed to ensure
resources went to intended recipients while minimizing loss and looting.
As distributions became more efficient and streamlined, tensions decreased
somewhat. However, political demonstrations, rioting and miscommunications
often caused cancellation of distributions. There were almost daily attacks on
trucks carrying humanitarian aid, usually with loss of materials and often
wounding drivers. Attempts to break into the CARE warehouse required
constant vigilance. Later on, organized attacks by armed gangs seemed to reflect
a backdrop of political maneuvering to fill power vacuums in the town. CARE
was prepared day-by-day to suspend operations in order to protect staff.
Meanwhile, CARE staff engaged in high level discussions with UNOCHA,
MINUSTAH and others to ensure that humanitarian activities could continue
and that transition activities could begin as soon as there was a secure
Human Resources
CARE Gonaives staff members were recovering from their own flood-induced
losses and trauma, while trying to undertake an enormous humanitarian aid
operation. While some felt they could handle the emergency on their own, on
September 29 a decision was made to reassign Gary Philoctete, Mission
Development Director, to direct the response. CARE staff from PaP and Jeremie
were redeployed to Gonaives, and other INGOs working in Haiti sent teams to
help CARE with logistics and distributions.
CARE International provided numerous consultants for technical assistance, in
the areas of rapid assessment, emergency coordination and program
development, water and sanitation, proposal writing, warehouse administration
and inventory, security, media support, and Food-for-Work/Cash-for-Work
Other Activities
Vaccinations (typhoid, hepatitis and tetanus) and health consultations were
provided by CARE at shelters throughout Gonaives and the Northwest.
Fortunately and perhaps as a result, there were no outbreaks or epidemics.
CARE also provided nurses, vehicles, fuel and materials to local and
international health teams in the Northwest. Health and sanitation education
was provided to clean-up teams and over the radio, including messages about
hand washing and limited contact with mud, dust and stagnant water.
Clean-up Activities
CARE was the first NGO to launch a Cash-for-Work municipal cleanup to collect
and dispose of mud and garbage around houses, water points, streets and
drainage canals. The operational plan includes harmonized standards re
payment of work, tool packages and time of payments, to avoid conflicting
approaches with others implementing CFW activities. CFW provides relief and
income to the most vulnerable households in some of worst affected slum areas.
Food-for-Work activities are on-going in the Northwest, using funding
previously secured for drought relief.
Reconstruction and rehabilitation
CARE bid on and won a major RFA for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the
Northwest and Gonaives issued by USAID. As a consortium with PADF and
CHF as subs, this 12-month project is worth $22 million and starts in January
2005. Proposals for longer-term activities have also been submitted in the
education, water and sanitation, and agriculture sectors.
Coordination. Cooperation and Support
CARE played a leading role in information, assessment, coordination and
planning with UNOCHA, WFP, WHO, USAID, MINUSTAH and the rest of the
international community, and proactively offered support to the Haitian
government to enable their own coordination and mandates. CARE received
widespread support from other INGOs working in other parts of Haiti, including
World Vision, Save the Children, ACF, UNOCHA, CRS and Concern. Oxfam
focused on water tanks and bladders, WHO focused on on-site aqua tabs and
Clorox, while the ICRC managed identification of bodies and burial. The
message was constantly reinforced that this was a joint effort, and not just
CARE’s operational area.
CARE Haiti benefited enormously from external assistance and support from
both CI and other donors. In addition to finding and sending consultants for
technical assistance, proposals were submitted through CARE France, CARE
Australia, CARE Canada, CARE UK, CARE Deutschland, and CARE USA.
CARE Nederland identified and offered technical assistance. Among the many
donors who responded rapidly and generously with both financing and material
aid were the Gates Foundation DFID, OFDA, ECHO, CIDA, AusAid, the German
government, USAID, and many private donors.
Workshop Objectives
• Identify the most important lessons learned about CARE’s emergency
response in 2004, focusing on Hurricane Jeanne.
• Begin an organizational learning process that will help CARE Haiti in the
future to improve its emergency response and better satisfy its obligations
to the Haitian citizens.
• Contribute to a global organizational learning process for CARE regarding
emergency response.
PaP SMT: Abby Maxman, Mohan Nepal, Cecily Bryant, Sandra St-Juste, Maryse
Gourdet, Myrtho Opont, Sophie Perez, Lionel Poitevien, Gary Philoctete
FHSU: Fenold Clerval (Project Manager), James Jean (Field Operations
Manager), Ronal Ledux (Field Supervisor)
Sante Gonaives: Vladimir Latortue (chauffeur), Hans Beauvoir (project
manager), Youdeline Laguere (RTS)
Sante Port-de-Paix: Marc Aurele Telfort (project manager), Laudie D. Medard
(APM), Caroline Benoit (Administrative Assistant)
Agriculture/Infrastructure: Joubert Hilaire (project manager), Dume Vilnor
(Technical Coordinator), Yvon Messeroux (Project Officer), Willy Compere (DAP
Education: Wilner Termilus (Project Manager)
Gonaives Admin: Jouthe Joseph, Corvil Roseline, Myrthil Faride, Alneur Surin,
Claudel Mercy
Jeremie Admin: Johanne Destin
Port au Prince: Larousse Ceus, Altagrace Allen, Erique Dorlus, Reginalde
Gerlus, Evelyne Dantica, Yves Laurent Regis
Atlanta: Elizabeth Murkison, Jenny Bah, Lisa Smith, Catherine Toth, Howard
Other: Aitor Landa (CARE Nicaragua/CAMI), Sharon Bell (writer)
Facilitator - Kent Glenzer, supported by Jock Baker from the CARE International
Emergency Group
Note: Due to the tsunami disaster in Asia, many CARE International staff were
unable to attend. A report on media lessons learned by Rick Perera is attached as
Annex C.
Preconference Planning: Prior to the workshop, Jock Baker, Abby Maxman,
Cecily Bryant, and Kent Glenzer developed a rough draft workshop process and
set of objectives. This was done via email and one teleconference call between
Haiti and Atlanta. The workshop design was based upon designs, processes,
and guidance from World Vision1, ALNAP2, and the OECD.3
Upon arrival in Haiti, Kent met with the CO’s SMT for about four hours. The
purpose of the meeting was to finalize the workshop process and outputs. Much
time was spent on determining the most appropriate working groups for the
lessons learned exercise: with more than a dozen themes/topics that at least
needed to be considered as staff ruminated about lessons learned, it was
necessary to find effective ways to group these themes into no more than six
small working groups.4
Wednesday morning: Introduction and Re-construction of a Chronology of
Events during the Disaster
Definitions of Positive and Negatives Lessons Learned
A “positive” lesson learned is what we did well and should be repeated next
time there is a similar occurrence, circumstances and context in Haiti, as well as
actions that other countries should consider should they find themselves in a
similar situation.
A “negative” lesson learned is what we did but would improve or not want to do
next time in a similar context or circumstance.
Chronology of Events: The purpose of this exercise was to re-establish a
common memory of the events that took place during and after the disaster, and
1 Mark Janz & Stuart Belle, “Lessons Learned in Emergency Responses: A Tool for Developing Lessons
Learned and Facilitating Documentation Workshops, Version 2,” October 2002. Available at the Relief
Forum Database, toolkit section, under lessons learned.
2 ALNAP, “ALNAP Review of Humanitarian Action in 2003: Field Level Learning,” London: ODI, 2004.
Also ALNAP, “A Comparative Study of After Action Revies in the Context of the Southern Africa Crisis,”
Key Messages April 2003, available on the ALNAP website (www.alnap.org).
3 OECD, “Guidance for Evaluating Humanitarian Assistance in Complex Emergencies,” DAC. 1999.
4 The issue here, from a facilitation standpoint, is that the more small groups organized, the more time that
is needed to do group presentations. In a two-day workshop, there is not enough time for 12 or more small
groups to both work through lessons learned and to report out and have some substantive discussion. COs
that wish to undertake the after action lessons learned workshop are wise to think hard about this easily
overlooked structural component of the workshop.
create a sense of pride in the amount of work accomplished under extremely
stressful conditions. Results of this exercise are attached as Annex B.
Wednesday afternoon: Small group meetings to identify positive lessons
learned. The workgroups were:
1. Resource mobilization: Includes fund raising, marketing public relations,
project conception, reporting, and relations with donors, government,
other NGOs and our clients.
2. Decision-making/Leadership: Includes structure, communication,
process and transmission of decisions.
3. Planning and Assessment: Includes the mission’s state of readiness,
rapidness and quality of needs assessments, and CARE’s response/niches.
4. Project Implementation: Includes client services, project set-up,
monitoring and evaluation.
5. Logistics/Security: Includes purchasing, warehouse management, and
6. Staffing: Includes recruitment, use of human resources from current
programs, and management of staff, consultants and TDYers.
Instructions for group work:
• Chose a group in which you want to concentrate your efforts. (You will
have an opportunity to contribute lessons learned in all areas as
feedback during the group presentations.)
• In your group, choose a reporter, who will write all ideas on the flipchart
and present them back to the plenary group.
• Begin with five minutes of individual work. Each group member should
write down two lessons, keeping in mind the definition of lessons
learned discussed in the plenary session.
• Each member presents his or her ideas and the reporter writes them all
down. As ideas are being presented, avoid any criticism or debate on
their truth or value. Group members can only ask questions for
clarification or understanding. Imagine this stage as structured
• After all ideas have been presented, discuss the validity of the ideas. Is
this really a lesson learned? Or is it just a hypothesis (i.e., there is some
contradictory evidence)? Eliminate any ideas for which the group
cannot come to consensus and write them on another flipchart page
under “hypotheses” or “no group agreement.”
• Combine ideas that are basically the same and rephrase the idea.
• Prioritize the ideas by identifying the five most important.
• Return to plenary for the next stage.
Thursday morning: Finish positive lessons learned and report back to plenary
for presentations and feedback.
Thursday afternoon: Identify negative lessons learned in small groups and
report back to plenary.
• Stay in your same group.
• Analyze the feedback from the positive lessons learned and revise your
original list to come up with no more than five positive lessons.
• Chose another reporter.
• Individually write down one “negative” lesson learned, keeping in mind
the definition discussed in plenary session.
• Use the following formula for identifying a “negative” lesson learned: 1)
the situation/context within which we want to improve our actions, 2)
what we did during the Jeanne emergency, and 3) what we are going to
do the next time.
• Follow the same discussion procedure as for “positive” lessons learned
Identification of next steps/actions (See Annex A).
Positive Lessons Learned:
1. Putting in place a strategy to disseminate information up to the CI level
(through contact persons at CARE-USA, recruitment of a local journalist,
international press conferences, organizing and sending detailed sit-reps,
media spots, integration of journalists) resulted in multiple benefits, in terms
of security, fund-raising, CARE’s image, and public relations with local and
international communities.
2. Having CI staff members on site for proposal writing brought in new ideas
and assured a high quality of written materials, which permitted country
office staff to focus on the emergency itself.
3. The emergency allowed CARE Haiti to approach and obtain funding from
new donors (e.g., Australia, Switzerland, etc.), and call attention to Haiti in
sectors not tied to the emergency.
4. During the two weeks following Hurricane Jeanne, despite the absence of the
necessary data, CARE Haiti and CARE International were able to develop
and finalize project proposals that were subsequently approved. The
emergency brought out considerable expertise from within the mission itself,
which should be developed and used to benefit both CARE Haiti and CI in
the future.
Negative Lessons Learned:
1. Before the arrival of Hurricane Jeanne, despite numerous previous crises and
the fact that Haiti is located in an at-risk zone, we had not prioritized the
development of a risk management plan nor were we prepared for dealing
with such disasters at either the national or international level. We should
immediately begin putting in place such a plan, with the necessary external
support, so that we can adapt EPP procedures and guidelines.
2. Three weeks after the hurricane, the skills of certain qualified staff had not
been utilized. In the future, we should plan a meeting of all program staff
(which has never happened before) immediately after the disaster to delegate
and clarify each person’s tasks, and afterwards to establish better ties with
regular programs. [Suggestion: develop a database that shows staff skills in
the event of an emergency.]
3. Several days before starting the targeted food distributions, there was no
documentation in place outlining community information strategies or
orientation for staff involved in the process. The next time, such
documentation must be developed in order to orient staff and inform
communities before any changes take place in intervention strategies.
4. Two weeks after Hurricane Jeanne, CARE Haiti staff responsible for receiving
non-food items (NFI) from abroad were having difficulty coordinating at the
local level, i.e., no contact person (authorities) to facilitate the collection
process at the airport. In the future we should have a protocol in place with
local authorities to facilitate this process.
5. A month after the hurricane, CARE Haiti hired a local journalist without
terms of reference. Next time, we should first establish the terms of reference
before hiring any consultant or contractor. [Clarification: There was a TOR,
it just wasn’t shared with everyone.]
Hypotheses (not everyone agreed):
• Did the pooled private funds from the USA correspond to the needs of the
• Was the mission consulted regarding the decision to: 1) fix the target at one
million dollars and 2) to stop raising funds for Haiti/Jeanne?
• Better define the relation between appropriate human resources and the
mobilization of other resources (e.g., staffing)
• Be more specific about new mechanisms developed, put precise guidelines in
place beforehand for creating new projects and developing budgets
• Hire a local journalist with clear and specific terms of reference that are
shared with everyone.
• Emphasize coordination with the entire international humanitarian
Positive Lessons Learned:
1. During the entire emergency period, the majority of our staff showed itself to
be motivated, involved, willing, and hard-working, which helped with
decision-making and on-the-ground response. CARE should support such a
culture, based on the organization’s principles, vision and values.
2. Four days after the flooding, CARE International was well aware of the
situation and conscious of the scale of the disaster. They channeled CARE
Haiti toward potential doners and human resources. They should be
encouraged to do the same when there are disasters in other regions and
3. During the entire period, the presence of self-criticism, self-evaluation,
constant feedback and the openness of management allowed for correction of
mistakes and re-motivation of employees. We should promote this culture of
continuous reflection and willingness to make modifications throughout the
mission to assure our efficacy.
4. Five days after the flooding, the CARE USA Board of Directors granted an
advance to CARE-Haiti senior management for rapid start up of activities and
to help with fund-raising. The Board should understand the value of this BEF
(Board Emergency Fund) and continue the system, even expand it.
5. During the entire period, investment in information exchange (verbal and
written) at all levels, from the disaster areas to the country office to CARE
headquarters, contributed in general to fundraising at HQ and writing
proposals for donors. This practice should be part of any future process.
Negative Lessons Learned
1. During the first 48-72 hours after the flooding, CARE Haiti put aside many
normal procedures and made purchases without purchase orders, tender
analyses or proforma invoices. Multiple advances of large amounts of money
were made to the same person, and stock from other programs was
appropriated for the emergency. Staff also received salary advances. In the
future, there should be more structured, formal procedures specifically for
emergencies, which would prevent potential auditing problems but still allow
for innovative approaches.
2. After the flooding, because of the scale of the disaster in Gonaives, we did not
sufficiently consider the size of the problem in the Northwest region. The
next time, we must invest our resources equitably in all affected zones.
3. During the entire emergency period, management did not adequately
communicate the range of available experts and their areas of expertise before
sending them to the site. In the future, maintain a chart which is updated
weekly, showing all the consultants and a summary of their work plan before
sending them to the site.
4. Two weeks after the flooding, there were two [management] structures:
a) the structure that already existed in Gonaives
b) the Emergency Management Team (ETL)
In future, we should:
• Set up a contingency emergency plan (preparedness plan) that is
permanent and pyramidal, given the scale of the emergency
• Ensure good communication about the new structure and involve the
community in decision making
• Continue/establish/reinforce a climate of mutual trust, which would
facilitate all communication about the structure
5. The week after the flooding, many CARE staff members were disaster victims
themselves and thus there was a lack of human resources in Gonaives. They
were not were not sufficiently aware of the important role CARE had to play
in such an emergency, and the implications for each member of the team. In
the future, we must better prepare staff for a global response.
6. During the entire emergency period, there were mechanisms [within the
international community] for coordinating activities, at least theoretically. In
reality, coordination was mediocre, consisting mostly of meetings! In the
future, we should actively advocate that all the actors involved actually carry
out agreed on procedures.
Positive Lessons Learned:
1. In the Northwest, CARE staff was closely involved from the beginning with
the coordination committee to identify needs rapidly with communities and
organize a response to those needs. This collaborative approach permitted a
good assessment and an adequate response, and should be replicated in the
2. Having a security chain and functioning communication at the institutional
level was essential for crisis management. In the future, we must be sure this
remains functional—tested, reinforced and adapted to new technologies and
3. From the beginning, a good assessment of limitations and needs regarding
expertise allowed for a useful mobilization of human resources, which also
created an opportunity for learning and sharing by both national and
international staff. This should be repeated in the future.
4. In the absence of a contingency plan, the existence of a good management
system in our regular programs allowed us to adapt and use it for rapid and
effective response to the emergency. This should be continued in the future,
in order to guarantee our capacity to apply a contingency plan and maintain
our good credibility in the eyes of donors.
5. Overall, the availability of a staff that was experienced, motivated, involved
and flexible permitted us to organize our immediate response effectively.
This potential should be maintained and reinforced in the future by
orientations that permit us to better structure and systematize our immediate
Negative Lessons Learned
1. Throughout the emergency management, we did not establish a system for
collecting data systematically. In the future, we should identify a focal point
for early collection, processing and analysis of data, in order to guide
programming and to assure rapid targeting of beneficiaries. [Comment: the
positive lesson learned is that we do have a system in place to collect data
about the rise and fall of prices of basic necessities.]
2. When Hurricane Jeanne hit, there was an early warning system for drought
only. In the future, this system should be expanded, based on a risk
assessment, which would permit identification of at-risk sites and
dissemination of information in time for evacuation and for organizing or
identifying those who will take charge.
3. SPHERE standards were not applied. In the future, we must assure that they
are adopted, adapted to the local context, and applied during regular
programming, as well as implementation and evaluation of the emergency
4. Overall, there was insufficient consultation with on-site staff and community
disaster victims. In the future, we must assure that mechanisms for
consultations are strengthened in order to prepare proposals. [A suggestion
was to improve the depth, breadth and analysis of the CAMI assessment.]
5. The response to the emergency was carried out spontaneously, taking
advantage more or less effectively of the staff’s experience and
professionalism. In the future, we must develop and implement a
preparedness plan.
Suggestion: Strengthen M&E capacity in outlying zones.
Positive Lessons Learned:
1. In carrying out the targeted distributions, we informed the population of the
objectives, approaches and methods of distribution. We also involved local
authorities and community leaders in the selection of beneficiaries. This
allowed us to reach the most vulnerable groups.
2. While implementing the entire emergency response, all CARE staff were
affected and deeply involved. This allowed us to develop a rapid response
despite the absence of an emergency team. This joint effort, team sprit and
selflessness were critical to the success of the interventions.
3. Initially the humanitarian aid activities were marred by security problems
and incidents, due to limited involvement of local authorities and lack of
involvement/awareness of the population. Public service announcements
and community meetings led to more involvement of local authorities (SNEP,
TPTC) and of the local population. This in turn played a role in improving
security conditions and decreasing the pressure on CARE.
4. During the implementation of the emergency response, we had daily
meetings to discuss the progress of emergency activities. Despite not having a
structured system, this allowed us to monitor results and make timely
decisions. This is recommended for the future.
5. From the start of the distribution of water by truck and cleaning up the city of
Gonaives, CARE consulted with and coordinated the work with other NGOs
intervening in these same areas. This allowed us to have better coverage
when distributing aid to beneficiaries. Working in partnerships is a key
strategy for obtaining better results.
Negative Lessons Learned:
1. When we started up emergency distribution of food, we did not share
information with the communities about our methods and criteria for
distribution. This resulted in incomprehension and frustration on the part of
the population, and pressure on our staff. Next time it is strongly
recommended that we inform the population (using the media and local
structures) from the very beginning.
2. During the emergency, in order to avoid looting and stealing, CARE Haiti’s
humanitarian activities were guarded by MINUSTAH personnel, who were
not steeped in the mission’s philosophy and ways of working. This aroused
frustration among beneficiaries, CARE staff and MINUSTAH. In the future,
should it be necessary to use military personnel, we should orient them from
the beginning regarding the organization’s vision and mission.
3. Because of the realities on the ground and the urgency of the activities to be
undertaken, critical information did not always reach implementing staff in a
timely manner (e.g., budget, contracts with donors). This resulted in trial and
error at first. In the future, we should assure that we have good lines of
communication from the beginning (identification of contact persons and
setting up appropriate structures in the office to handle the emergency).
4. At the start-up of emergency activities, lines of responsibility and leadership
for managing the emergency were not clearly defined. This resulted in
misunderstandings, internal and external frustration, and a delay in the
process of implementing activities. In the future, we should set up a structure
right away to assure leadership at every level of activity.
5. During the emergency after Hurricane Jeanne, the areas around the city of
Gonaives and the Northeast were given priority. Emergency aid outside of
Gonaives was not sufficiently mobilized. In the future, we should do a better
job of disseminating information about all the affected areas and strengthen
our requests to donors in order to call their attention to these areas.
6. During distribution of non-food items (NFI), CARE began without a structure
or a plan. This caused a chaotic situation both in terms of storing and
distribution of items to beneficiaries. The next time, we should set up a
management system from the beginning that is clear, orderly and well
understood by all those involved. Specifically, we could adopt the system set
up by John Solomon, adopt, modify and use a manual for management of
NFI, and train staff on procedures in the manual. This could all be based on
tools already available regarding management of food [and from other COs].
Positive Lessons Learned:
1. On the day of the flooding, our radio communication system, which was
functional, allowed the Gonaives staff to share information about the
situation. We should ensure that this system functions permanently, as well
as alternative systems such as cell phones, satellite phones, etc.
2. During and after the flooding, the availability of a fleet of appropriate
vehicles allowed us to save human lives and bring aid to victims throughout
the community. We will continue to manage the composition and
maintenance of our fleet. [It was suggested that CARE consider
transportation by sea, either through maritime transporters or buying
3. When the arrival of Hurricane Jeanne was first announced (Wednesday,
September 15th), the CARE Gonaives Security Committee met to take all the
necessary preventive measures, i.e., evacuation of certain staff to Port au
Prince, immobilization of staff and vehicles on site, shelter and safety of local
employees, and raising awareness of local authorities and partners. We will
continue to keep these security procedures active.
4. During and after the flooding, CARE staff members displayed exemplary
commitment and availability. We should ensure that staff motivation
remains at the highest level possible.
Negative Lessons Learned:
1. Immediately after the flooding, we reported the damage. But then we took
too long to plan the distribution of food to victims. Next time we should
have two parallel activities, i.e., one team meets to plan while the other team
does the distribution.
2. After Hurricane Jeanne passed, we began a massive distribution of
commodities under conditions that approached anarchy. In the future, we
should plan and organize distributions in a manner that assures respect for
human dignity [irrespective of the operating environment].
3. After Hurricane Jeanne passed, security measures and procedures for
frequenting warehouses during storage of food and non-food commodities
were not adequately controlled, which created pressure for those goods. In
the future, we should display and apply procedures needed in such contexts.
4. In the days following Hurricane Jeanne, a large number of staff was assigned
to the emergency (purchasing, arrivals and departures, distributions, trips,
visits, etc). In the future, we should develop strategies for more rapid redeployment of certain staff members for an emergency response.
5. The day after Hurricane Jeanne hit, we quickly made a huge amount of
purchases without being sure we were following all procedures correctly.
We should develop procedures that can be rapidly adapted to facilitate the
process and related documentation.
• There is always a trade-off between rapid response and involving local
authorities and others in the decision-making.
• Avoid as much as possible the presence of military personnel inside CARE
• As part of on-going training of drivers, include basic, practical techniques for
crossing rivers.
• Develop staff training for ways to assure their own security.
• Consider ways that CARE can fill in the gaps without doing everything itself.
• CARE should urge authorities to develop plans that would reduce the impact
of disasters on populations, as well as training for communities about their
role in responding to and reducing the impact of disasters.
Positive Lessons Learned:
1. Using human resources from regular programs in emergency projects greatly
facilitated the harmonization between regular and emergency activities. It
also helped make implementation faster.
2. Investing time and involving national staff in decision-making about the
immediate emergency response translates into a feeling of ownership.
3. Recruitment of local staff from the disaster zone is another way to help the
community to recover.
4. Taking advantage of a versatile and multi-talented staff to manage this
emergency allowed the mission to obtain better results.
5. The targeted interface between CARE USA and CARE Haiti permitted rapid
recruitment of international staff, thanks to a bank of human resources
already assembled.
Negative Lessons Learned:
1. “Flooding victims”: Staff worked more than 20 hours a day, seven days a
week. In the future, we should have a plan to rotate teams every 24 hours,
which would allow better use of human resources and better time
2. The Gonaives management committee, having effectively assumed
responsibility immediately after the emergency, communicated information
to the central office in PaP, who then did not involve these employees in
decision-making. The PaP office should, in future, refer back to the local team
and take into account the work already carried out for better continuity.
3. When international staff members were recruited, there was no clear
identification of needs, terms of reference were not spelled out, and the
emergency staffing bank was not formally operational. In the future, for
better time management and allocation of resources, we should identify
genuine needs, define terms of reference, and regularly update the human
resources bank.
4. During the flooding, some CARE employees lost their possessions and others
lost relatives, not to mention the tragic death of one of our colleagues. While
they did receive immediate aid, nevertheless they had to wait four months to
get psychosocial support, which is one of the most important needs.
5. Within 48 hours after the disaster, we made the decision to shelter staff
victims and their families in the CARE compound. However, the
management of all these people was not completely effective. In the future,
we should place limits on people in terms of time and space, and orient
employees toward a rapid return to their homes.
ANNEX A: Action Plan
Action Person Responsible Date
Develop the workshop report,
including chronology,
workshop process, and
Sharon Bell January 16
Organize a task force and:
a) Revise/finalize the lessons
b) Develop action plans for
applying lessons learned
c) Develop a timeline to
finalize the process for
development of an action
plan, including results of
the external evaluation
Abby, Evaline, Yves-Laurent,
Jouthe, Sofie
End of March (a & b)
End of January (c)
Translate and disseminate the
workshop report to all
Evaline January 17th
All participants give feedback
on the report to the task force
All participants February 1st
Organize mini-workshops at
project sites to share lessons
learned and action plans
Trainers and project managers End of April
ANNEX B: Chronology of Events
U.N./govt Vie des Pauvres CARE Haiti CARE International CARE EUA Bailleurs Autre ONGs
commencé de
travailler au
Debut vols
UN/govt. (acces
Visite premier
depeché à
special du govt
aux Gonaives
pour coordiner
Gestion de
Evacuation staff
UN et
Mise on place
Unité de Soins
Pertubation economique,
socialique &
(inondation, perte de vie,
pertes de biens)
Entre’aide et
hébergement des
affectés par d’autres
Premiere distribution de
Mort de 3000 personnes
a Gonaives et environs
Inondation suite au
cyclone Jeanne
Quête de nourriture et de
produites de necessité
pour les pauvres
Distribution de l’eau et
de nourriture
Pertes total du biens et
de moyens de production
Decapitalisation de
populations victims et
augmentation de la
vulnerabilité des pauvres
19 Sept reunion de coordination a PAP
20 sep, reunion de coordination aux
Abby et Jouthe a l’exterieur lorsque
l’ourogan venait
Retour du SOA Gonaives en Haiti
CARE Haiti est devenu le point focal
référence a Gonaives
Integration facile et rapide des autres
ONG grâce a la CARE
Point vital de la ville
Centre d’hébergement, maison de’accueil
pour les ONG, journalists, stockage des
biens, etc.
Vaccination des employees
$1 million Board Endowment approved
Premiére distribution de vivres
Solidarité du staff national victime ou
pas; hébergement des employés (800+)
et families sinestrés
Reunion de securité
Prioritization de l’urgence, re-focalisation
du travail du staff, nouveaux procedures
de decaissement, achat, etc.
Mort d’un employee de CARE Gonaive
(Mitail Aldonais)
Pendant la periode de la crise, nous
(CARE staff) avons mangé du ble.
13-20 Sept Internet ne functionne pas au
bureau PaP
Inondation suite au cyclone Jeanne
Distribution de l’eau et de nourriture
Coordination entre CH and CUSA
Prevention maladies immunocontrolables
3 semaines de travail sans repos, 20
CARE Gonaives recu au moins 20
journalists etranges
Visites de support de president
Peter Bell et d’autres high
level staff
CEG s’est forme et s’est reuni
por la premier fois a Genève.
Premiere appel de
conference pour l’ERWG
Solidarité manifesté par la
staff international au staff
Mobilisation des ressources
materielles, financiers et
humains, et collaboration des
ressources: Australie, UK,
Allemagne, Canada, France,
Austria, USA ($5 million
Inondation suite au cyclone
Recrutment de
staff d’urgence
Adeeb, Mario
Flores, Cat Toth,
Yann, John
Solomon, Regis,
Jan S.
Collecte de fonds
$1 million Board
Inondation suite au
cyclone Jeanne
Propositions pour
Fondation Gates
Reponse rapide et
immediate de fonds
des bailleurs
DFID 3 tranches en
deux jours
Reponse financiére
20 sep, reunion de coordination
aux Gonaives
Mise en place de mecanisme
coordenne de reponse
Reunions de coordination
reguliéres dans les secteurs de
santé, assainissement, education,
Support de ONGs locales,
international pour repondre
Vie des Pauvres CARE Haiti CARE International CARE EUA Bailleurs Autre ONGs
Oct Deterioration de la situation sociopolitique (5-20 Oct)
Distribution de l’eau et de nourriture
Risque d’une outré inondation 8 Oct
Recrutment de staff d’urgence Systematisation et prises de
Projets et communication formelle
Structure locale en place
Deterioration de la situation socio-politique
Distribution de l’eau et de nourriture
Inaccessibilite de la route 8 octobre, blockage des
Intensification de la vulgarization des activites d’urgance
Solidarite manifeste par la
staff international au staff
Messages de support
Levee de fonds parmi de
staff de CARE national et
Recrutment de staff
d’urgence, John Hoare,
Jeff G, Virginia Vaughn,
Greg Brady,
Mobilization de
Reallocation de fons
pour des urgence liee a la
Visite de Sophie
Collaberation pour ameloration d’eau
Reponse financiere rapid ($500,000 des
Canadians, $500,000 suisse)
2eme reunion de
Reunions regulieres
sante, assainissement,
education, etc.
arrivage noncoordenne de
20 ONG arrives a
Nov Distribution de l’eau et de
Passage de l’urgence al a rehabilitation, reoverture de
Cash for Work commence
Distribution cible de nourriture
Distribution de l’eau et de nourriture
Reponse a USAID RFA
Visite de Phillip Leveques Recrutment de staff d’urgence
Reponse financiere rapid
ANNEX C: Lessons learned – Media (Individual Perspective)
Haiti flood response 2004
As could be expected, the September floods triggered a brief, intense burst of media
interest. We were relatively successful in channeling that into some worthwhile coverage
for CARE Haiti’s work, both of the emergency response and to a lesser extent of longerterm programming. Much of the attention was a natural result of CARE’s dominant role
as lead agency in Gonaïves, but several other elements were key to our success:
1) Availability and preparation of key staff for interviews: The Country Director,
Mission Development Director, and several others made media a high priority.
All had significant past experience with media and/or had had media training, and
were able to provide the concise, colorful answers journalists seek.
2) Information: Staff were quick to provide the onsite press officer with up-to-date
facts and figures (metric tons of aid delivered, numbers of recipients, etc.) Hard
data are key to encouraging journalists to cite CARE in their reporting.
3) Speed of response: CARE staff were quick to meet most press demands,
accommodating deadlines and returning calls promptly. CO and PR kept an eye
on major international press coverage and responded quickly to errors or lapses in
4) CI cooperation: improved coordination between CI media officers, via the
Communications Working Group (COMWG) and emergency media director
Arnoud Hekkens, made it possible for staff on site to meet requests from media in
various Northern countries quickly.
5) HQ backup: a freelancer in Atlanta served as backup to the field press officer,
helping distribute press releases, research contact information for journalists, etc.
This was a tremendous help in meeting media demands.
6) Communications infrastructure: all key CO staff had cell phones which
functioned in the crisis area, making it easy to reach people on short notice for
media requests. Internet service was good at the CARE Gonaïves sub-office (but
not in PAP -- see below).
7) Transport: CARE was able to accommodate most journalist requests for
transport, both locally (providing rides around the Gonaïves area) and nationally
(transit by land between PAP and Gonaïves, and help facilitating seats on UN
helicopter flights).
8) Physical accommodation of journalists: CARE Gonaïves was able to provide
workspace, electric power, occasional use of telephone and Internet service, and
even sleeping quarters for several journalists, making CARE the natural focal
point of their reporting.
9) Photos: CARE was able to supply still images from the affected area to news
media, many of which were eager for material since they had no personnel on site.
Digital photos taken by staff, and later by a visiting freelance photographer, were
e-mailed back to CARE USA HQ in Atlanta in short order.
10) Video: The press officer brought a small video camera into the field and shot
footage; thanks to a staffer who hand-carried the tape back to Atlanta, it was
available for transmission to broadcasters within a day. Availability of recent
video is absolutely key to TV coverage. (Alternative options: (a) hire local
freelance crew; (b) ask news crews to provide raw footage in exchange for access)
11) Feature story ideas: staff suggested ideas and sources for feature stories which
the press officer was able to share with journalists, several of whom produced
lengthy pieces prominently featuring CARE staff. Journalists covering a crisis are
eager for ideas that help them “advance” the story and distinguish themselves
from their peers – the best ideas link a current breaking news item with a broader
or longer-term story about CARE programming (e.g.: floods linked to
reforestation issue and charcoal-substitution efforts).
12) Coverage of Peter Bell visit: Visiting CARE USA President Peter Bell made
himself available for numerous interviews; CO staff accommodated journalists by
changing Peter’s schedule on short notice in order to do live interviews with
CNN, for example.
13) Field trips/tours: Journalists responded to invitations for special press trips to the
field (to tour flood-affected neighborhoods, food distribution sites, or in one case
a day trip to Bassin-Bleu to see a tree nursery and reforestation programming). If
staff time and vehicles can be spared, these can be a great tool for generating
press interest.
14) Briefing sheets: We took a page (literally!) from World Vision, producing an
update sheet with facts and figures on our response that could be easily handed to
journalists on site.
Possible improvements:
1) Communications:
a) Continuity of phone numbers: If a press officer can’t be on the ground
quickly, consider reserving a cell phone for him/her and giving it in the
meantime to whoever will be answering press calls until he/she arrives –
likewise, after the press officer leaves, his/her cell phone should continue
to be answered. [This would have been easier in the last case if Rick had
not allowed his local cell phone to be stolen in Gonaïves!]
b) Voicemail: Local cell phone was not set up for voicemail, meaning
whenever it was out of range, it simply rang unanswered.
c) Internet: While service was excellent in Gonaïves, it was unavailable at
the office in PAP (since corrected). Visiting press officer should
whenever possible have access to reliable Internet service, whether at a
CARE office or a hotel.
d) Satellite phone: The media officer satphone brought from Atlanta did not
function in Haiti. If visiting staff will need satphones in the field, might
be best to arrange them through CO or have them set up/tested by local
2) Feature stories: If time and staff had been available, more ideas/sources could
have been generated to encourage journalists to report on other important stories
(e.g.: find a way to link flood coverage to HIV/AIDS programming)
3) Spokespersons: If a few more staff had been prepared and briefed for interviews,
it might have taken some pressure off the two or three who handled most requests.
Conversely, on occasion staff who were not authorized or trained to speak to
media spontaneously answered questions from reporters; this should be
4) Press conference: CARE organized a press conference in conjunction with
several other NGOs in PAP. While this may have been useful for cultivating
inter-agency cooperation, press attendance was poor, probably not worth the
effort invested by CO staff, including room setup, interpreter, etc. Lessons: (a)
press conferences not held directly at the scene of the action may not be as
effective; (b) press conferences may be more appealing if they offer access to outof-the-ordinary spokespersons (e.g., visiting dignitary); (c) press conference
might be justified if there are specific hard data to be released, e.g. results of a
major assessment or study.
Rick Perera
CARE USA Press Officer
+1 404 979 9453

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