Haitian officials say the earthquake-ravaged, French-speaking Caribbean county has received a significant boost with the Mar. 6 groundbreaking ceremony for a new emergency operations center, disaster relief warehouse and fire station.
Haiti’s Ministry of Interior said the center, in Fort-Liberte, is the first of 10 such emergency operations centers and disaster relief warehouses, eight community clusters and 14 fire stations to be constructed throughout the country.
The Fort-Liberte facility marks the beginning of the next phase of construction under the auspices of the U.S. Southern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program in partnership with the Government of Haiti, the statement said.
Haiti’s Minister of the Interior, Thierry Mayard-Paul, who presided over the ground-breaking ceremony, said that functional emergency operations centers and disaster relief warehouses “are not only critical in saving lives and minimizing damage during disasters, they also enhance institutional capacity throughout Haiti so we can increase safety in all parts of the country.”
Daniel Foote, deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy, representing the U.S. Southern Command, said Haiti’s civil preparedness projects have entered construction phase and are one step closer to helping the government of Haiti provide vital services to communities in the Nord-Est Department.
“This emergency operations center will allow local emergency response personnel to collect and analyze reported information, make decisions, and manage Haiti’s collective response to emergencies or natural disasters,” he said.
By providing additional fire-fighting and emergency service capabilities to the Fort Liberte area, Foote said the fire station facility will play a “significant role” in the event of a larger-scale emergency within Haiti.
“The new facilities will also enable us, through the Civil Protection Agency (DCP), to improve the quality of life of our communities, providing vital safety services,” Mayard-Paul said.
“We could not do this without the unwavering support of our friends in the United States who, through Southern Command, the embassy and USAID (United States Agency for International Development), along with the United Nations Development Program, World Food and others in the international community, help us turn necessities into plans, and plans into reality,” he added.
Mayard-Paul said the new facilities will be used as soon as available, with plans to hold community first aid trainings as part of the DPC’s recently-launched annual campaign, “Civil Protection is Everyone’s Responsibility.”
“At the Ministry of the Interior, we are following through on our commitment to identify the most pressing needs of the Haitian people, and turn those needs into plans that materialize into actual infrastructure, tools and programs that will benefit communities across the country,” he said. “That is the essence of our community-based decentralization program.”