Rainy Season Worries in Haiti: How to Help

The earthquake in Haiti was one of the largest scale natural disasters in history.  The rainy season, which begins in April, could make it even worse.

The rainy season has two peaks: one from April to June and the other from August to November.

Other climate factors will affect the rainy season as well. Right now we're in an El Nino, which is bad news since Haiti tends to receive above normal rainfall.  In the worst case scenario, El Nino could switch to La Nina later in the summer.  During a La Nina, there's an increased chance of hurricanes in the Caribbean.  Aside from the problems flooding, landslides, and wind damage pose, there's also public health concerns about waterborne diseases.

Clearly there's still a need for relief.  In fact, Haiti is more vulnerable now than before the earthquake.  So with that in mind, I thought I would highlight three unique organizations that are keeping climate risks in Haiti in their sights.

Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO)

You'll probably recognize the Penn of J/P HRO.  Sean Penn started this relief organization along with business woman Diana Jenkins to help Haitians.  Penn visited the country after the quake and was struck by the chaos and devastation so he founded a relief organization.  Usually I'm skeptical of celebrity-based organizations, but J/P HRO seems legit.

They've created a campaign called "Beat the Rain" to draw attention to the complications the rainy season might present to relief and rebuilding efforts.  Their goal is to raise $8 million dollars to build temporary housing in safe locations.  They've already worked with the US military to delivery water and food and have sent doctors to examine over 55,000 people.  Not bad for an organization that's only 6 weeks old.

The Haiti Poster Project

This is a really interesting way to get creative people involved in relief efforts.  The project gives graphic designers a chance to use their skills to create a numbered series of posters drawing attention the quake.

Moxie Sozo, a Boulder-based design firm, and Josh Higgins, a San Diego-based designer, are co-curators of The Haiti Poster Project.  They each previously curated poster projects for Hurricane Katrina and the Southern California Wildfires so they know what they're doing.  They're still accepting submissions and will begin selling the posters on the website April 5.  All the proceeds raised will be donated to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that could use the help if an outbreak of waterborne diseases occurs.

International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)

High quality forecasts could be a major benefit to relief organizations.  With that in mind, IRI has recently launched a Haiti-based web tool for use by the Red Cross, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other organizations in Haiti.

The website contains maps showing daily, weekly, and seasonal forecasts.  It also has maps showing areas vulnerable to floods, landslides, wind, and poverty.  The website (and IRI's work in general) hopes to bridge the gap between climate science and real world applications such as disaster management.

When a disaster strikes, the outpouring of support can be amazing and reaffirm your belief in humanity.  The need for relief doesn't disappear when the news spotlight fades.  I hope our community, which is focused on doing good work, doesn't forget about it.

Photo Credit: Flickr