Scots raise £8m for Haiti earthquake appeal

Schoolchildren in Haiti
Image caption This temporary school is supported by Save the Children in Leogane

People in Scotland have donated £8m to help survivors of the Haiti earthquake, the Disasters Emergency Committee has revealed.

The sum is part of £101m raised by the committee throughout the UK, which has so far funded emergency assistance to 1.2 million people affected by the quake.

Only the 2004 tsunami prompted a bigger response from the British public.

More than 200,000 people were killed after the 12 January earthquake.

The earthquake was so devastating largely because it hit Haiti's desperately poor capital, Port-au-Prince, where 86% of people were living in badly constructed and tightly packed slums, the DEC said.

More than £30m of the DEC money has been spent so far, with the largest shares of the money paying for water and sanitation (28%) and emergency shelter (22%), while 14% has been spent on household items including soap, mosquito nets and water containers.

Oxfam public health engineer Jenny Lamb, 33, from Aberdeenshire is among the Scottish aid workers in Haiti.

"This disaster has been unlike anything I've ever seen," she said. "I'm working in a crowded urban area that was completely flattened by the quake.

"But despite that, Oxfam has reached over 440,000 people with our work on sanitation and shelter and we have helped make the sanitation better than it was prior to the earthquake in metropolitan areas."

She said the arrival of the hurricane season poses a fresh set of problems, with hundreds of thousands of people still living in tents.

Sharon Reader, from Glasgow, who works with the Red Cross is back in Haiti for a second stint.

The 30-year-old arrived in Haiti eight days after the earthquake and spent five weeks in the country as part of the water and sanitation unit.

Image caption Red Cross hygiene kits have been distributed in the La Piste camp

In the past fortnight she has returned for six-months with the communications team.

She said: "The evidence of the earthquake is still everywhere to see - there are an estimated 20 million cubic metres of rubble, which at the current rate of 300 trucks a day, will take six years to shift.

"The challenges in Haiti are massive. One of the biggest challenges is finding available land to build more sturdy, hurricane-proof shelters on."

Gerry McLaughlin, of the Red Cross, who is chairman of the DEC appeal in Scotland, said: "In 35 years of humanitarian work I have never seen such a challenge confronting survivors of a natural disaster and the DEC agencies which are trying to help them.

"Shockingly, our provision of emergency latrines and clean water means that many people now have better water and sanitation services than before the quake.

"One measure of our achievement is that there has been no major outbreak of potentially deadly diseases such as measles, cholera or diarrhoea.

"It is clear that we are only at the beginning of what will be a long and painful journey but I know DEC member agencies are committed to do whatever is necessary to support the people of Haiti."

The DEC Haiti Appeal will close at the end of July 2010 but donations can be made until then.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites