Hurricane Matthew and Haiti: Switzerland intensifies activities to help survivors of the disaster)

Press release, 17.10.2016

Swiss humanitarian operations in Haiti are focusing on the south-west of the country, hardest hit by the storm. More specialists left Bern today to reinforce our on-site teams. Switzerland's priorities include ensuring access to drinking water and fighting the spread of cholera, while also providing support for operations by the United Nations and the International Federation of the Red Cross.

L’avion du Conseil fédéral embarque des experts et du matériel pour le traitement de l’eau.
The Federal Council aircraft will carry experts and water treatment equipment. ©

The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) has seconded additional specialists who left for Haiti today aboard the Federal Council aircraft, which is also carrying water treatment equipment to help fight the spread of the cholera epidemic.

These experts will bolster the work that has already been done by SHA staff active in south-west Haiti, where needs are greatest. Some 15 experts have been providing humanitarian assistance since the start of the disaster, specifically in water and temporary accommodation. Swiss teams have set up drinking-water distribution systems helping 3,000 people per day in and around Port-Salut.

Fighting the spread of cholera is another Swiss priority. Flooding and landslides in the wake of the hurricane have contaminated many wells. In Port-à-Piment, in the western part of the country, Swiss experts have distributed 40,000 water disinfection tablets for more than 10,000 people. They have provided training and handed over to the Haitian authorities 40 WATA devices used to produce a chlorine solution to protect tens of thousands of people from waterborne diseases. Another 20 WATA devices will be sent to Haiti on the Federal Council aircraft.

At the same time, 5,000 tarpaulins acquired from the neighbouring Dominican Republic have been sent to Port-Salut for use as temporary roofing while homes are being rebuilt.

On the multilateral level, Switzerland made a CHF 500,000 contribution to the World Food Programme for food distribution efforts. The UN agency will also receive support from an SHA expert in the distribution of cash so survivors can purchase foodstuffs. In addition, CHF 300,000 will be transferred to the International Federation of the Red Cross for the distribution of construction equipment.

The Swiss Embassy in Port-au-Prince is coordinating Switzerland's humanitarian assistance with the Haitian authorities. The representation has also deployed its own personnel in the western part of the country to support the rapid response teams from Switzerland.

All in all, CHF 2.5 million has been earmarked for emergency aid. This will be supplemented by longer-term measures via the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Haiti is a priority country for the SDC, which has been running disaster prevention projects for several years now. For instance, the schools it rebuilt following the 2010 earthquake served as shelter for people before, during and after the hurricane.

Further information:

Hurricane Matthew in Haiti – Switzerland’s contribution

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs