Gail McGovern describes progress made, challenges and new efforts in National Press Club speech on earthquake anniversary
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Donations to the American Red Cross following the Haiti earthquake saved lives and provided needed shelter, food, water and health care to earthquake survivors, said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross.
In a speech at the National Press Club on the first anniversary of the deadly Haiti earthquake, McGovern explained how the Red Cross has helped hundreds of thousands of Haitian survivors, described the response to the cholera outbreak, and discussed the organization's plans to move forward – including two new planned housing projects – in the years ahead to help Haiti and its people recover.
"While conditions in Haiti are still extremely difficult, these relief efforts saved lives that otherwise would have been lost," Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern said today in a speech at the National Press Club. "Lives were saved because of the outpouring of generosity from Americans who gave in tough economic times here at home."
The Red Cross received donations totaling $479 million for relief in Haiti, including more than $32 million raised through text messaging. McGovern announced that the American Red Cross has spent or has contracts to spend $245million in the first 12 months since the earthquake, more than the $200 million it had projected would be spent in the first year.
Since the earthquake, the American Red Cross and global Red Cross network have provided:
Enough food to feed more than 1 million people during the height of the response
Daily drinking water for more than 317,000 people
Emergency shelter materials for more than 860,000 people
Cash grants and loans to help 220,000 people
Medical care for nearly 217,000 patients
Vaccinations for nearly 1 million people
Latrines for 265,000 people
In the coming months and years, the Red Cross will focus its efforts in Haiti on long-term recovery, McGovern said, including the investment of $100 million in permanent housing. As part of those efforts, she announced two planned housing initiatives:
A planned partnership with the U.S. State Department through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), under which the Red Cross would spend as much as $30 million to build homes with water and sanitation at two locations to be identified and prepared by USAID.
A planned agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank, under which the Red Cross would spend as much as $15 million to construct homes on land being identified by the government of Haiti, which also is expected to include roads, sanitary systems, electricity service and other infrastructure.
She also noted that in addition to responding to the earthquake and its aftermath, the Red Cross has worked to provide help following the cholera outbreak last fall. The American Red Cross has spent more than $4.5 million and plans to spend at least another $12 million to fight the spread of cholera in the months ahead.
Personal Reflections on Haiti
McGovern has been to Haiti four times since the earthquake, and said her experience in Haiti is like no other.
"Each time I go to Haiti, I experience every single possible emotion: deep sadness and despair, but also pride, joy and hope," McGovern said.
"I'm like all Americans; I really wish the pace of progress in Haiti was faster," she added. "I want to see all Haitians living in permanent homes, having robust livelihoods, and living in vibrant communities. Instead, more than a million people are still living under tarps and tents while the Haitian government works to sort through land ownership issues."
In her speech, McGovern said that she reminds herself that Haiti was a very poor country before the earthquake.
"In many cases, aid groups are not just rebuilding Haiti – we're building some of the infrastructure for the very first time," she said.
McGovern noted that the series of events over the past few months – the cholera outbreak, Hurricane Tomas and the recent civil unrest following the announcement of the election results – have only compounded the misery of the earthquake survivors.
"But amid the destruction and hardship, there is also hope and progress," she said. "The resiliency, determination, spirituality and positive attitude of the people that I have met in Haiti are absolutely inspirational."
Details of the Red Cross relief and recovery efforts in Haiti can be found in the one-year report available at www.redcross.org/haiti.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.