January 11, 2011

Haiti: A year after the earthquake

January 12 marks the one year anniversary of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which devastated this fragile Caribbean country resulting in 230,000 deaths, the loss of more than 200,000 homes and the displacement of 1.2 million people. The images of destruction, human suffering and despair generated world-wide attention and an outpouring of sympathy as well as charitable gifts from national governments, individuals, religious groups and corporations. The response from Deutsche Bank, and its employees, was immediate and profound. The Bank’s Global Equity Markets group raised USD 4m for Haiti though a day’s trading with client support and when combined with employee donations and matching gifts, the total committed by Deutsche Bank reached USD 5.8m, making it one of the world’s largest donors in response to the crises.

A strategy of immediate relief and long term rebuilding

Recognizing the enormity of the human suffering brought about by the earthquake and its 52 aftershocks, the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation quickly deployed the majority of these funds to capable nonprofit organizations with a history of working in Haiti and who were equipped to provide immediate humanitarian relief to address medical emergencies, disease control, personal safety, and reliable access to food and water. Deliberate efforts were made to ensure aid reached the most vulnerable populations including orphaned children, the elderly and isolated communities. Notable organizations supported include Partners in Health, Oxfam America, Doctors without Borders, UNICEF, Save the Children, Project MediShare and HelpAge.

The enormity of the calamity, estimated at USD 14bn in destruction, would be a devastating burden for any country. For Haiti, with extremely limited government capabilities and with an economy largely dependent upon aid and remittances from nationals living abroad, recovering from the earthquake would, indeed, be a history defining moment. Deutsche Bank recognized that its own contribution to Haiti would be most meaningful if it participated in a longer term rebuilding challenge, committed to deploy its remaining resources for specific projects that might signal a new way for Haiti to address its enduring problems. A strategy was defined to focus efforts on housing development and opportunities to create jobs and income for residents.

'Our approach has been to leverage our private sector capabilities and relationships to forge and participate in partnerships that hold promise in defining a new path for a more sustainable Haiti while addressing the overwhelming fundamental human needs brought about by the earthquake,” said Gary Hattem, President Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation. This strategy has led to funding of efforts to grow the capacity of the artisans sector to increase exports to the US, and Europe as a source of family income for crafts people; the re-capitalization of microfinance institutions whose portfolios were hard hit with losses due to the death of clients; and the seeding of new models of housing, both permanent and interim that could withstand future weather calamities, rely on local materials for their fabrication and utilize local Haitian labor in their production.

Coordinating a Comprehensive Approach to Development

Deutsche Bank has also committed itself to the creation of an Exemplar Community where new forms of housing ownership, village governance, energy production, community facilities, schools and employment opportunities could be advanced for 120 families. The Exemplar is being undertaken through a collaborative effort with Digicel, a Deutsche Bank client and a local cell phone provider, The William J. Clinton Foundation, John McAslan Partner Architects and the OneXOne Foundation. Deutsche Bank’s commitment to this place based strategy includes the efforts of the Bank’s Mortgage IT group which is helping to advice in how a mortgage scheme might provide further leverage for donor dollars while creating long term assets for residents. At year-end, Deutsche Bank has selected, through a national competition of top universities, a team of planners, architects, economists and human rights experts from Harvard and MIT to advise in the continued development of the Exemplar. Additionally, a group of prominent Haitians have been enlisted to serve as the project’s stewardship group with the intent this role gets passed on to the ultimate residents of the settlement.

"The circumstances of Haiti are sobering. Everyone at Deutsche Bank can; however, take pride in knowing that our funds have made a meaningful difference in bringing solace and care to those most fragile. Our commitment to help in the longer term rebuilding challenge will hopefully leave a lasting legacy of Deutsche Bank’s concern and hopes for the people of Haiti,” said Hattem.

For more information on the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, click here.


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