Reviewing the 2010 earthquake disaster: the WCO COVID-19 Project assists Haiti Customs in building on past lessons learnt to enhance its future preparedness

01 junio 2022

The WCO COVID-19 Project, financially supported by the Government of Japan, organized from 23 to 26 May a capacity building workshop in Port-au-Prince to assist Haiti Customs, other government agencies and stakeholders working in disaster management, in improving their ability to respond to emergency situations such as natural disasters, infectious diseases and other similar events. 

The workshop was hosted by the Haiti Customs Administration and brought together over 60 participants. The WCO and partner organization experts, who joined both in-person and online, discusses the different WCO and international instruments and tools relevant to disaster relief to streamline the movement of critical goods and facilitated the exchange of views among participants to foster active cooperation in the importation of humanitarian aid.

During the opening ceremony, the Deputy Director-General of Haiti Customs, Fritz Alcindor, underlined the importance of this activity for Haiti Customs, especially considering the numerous natural disasters hitting the country, such as the dramatic earthquake that occurred in 2010, and warmly thanked the WCO for the assistance provided. On behalf of the WCO, Deputy Secretary General Ricardo Treviño Chapa highlighted the importance of reinforcing environmental and socio-economic resilience and reiterated the commitment of the WCO Secretariat to assist its Members in this respect.

The different sessions focused on analyzing the challenges tackled during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2010 earthquake, during which the efforts made to assist affected communities were hampered by a number of disruptions, such as the failure of the power system, loss of communication lines and damage to transport infrastructure. Drafting sessions were also organized: attendees were divided into working groups, each of which focused on formulating  Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the processing of relief consignments and the improvement of Customs clearance, which were then collected in a Guide.

The newly drafted Guide and the Action Plan that was discussed on the last day of the event will be useful for Haiti Customs and its stakeholders in working together in instances of unpredictable scenarios and to fine-tune the role played by border agencies in disaster management during future emergency operations.

This workshop followed a similar activity carried out earlier in May month for Haiti’s neighboring country, the Dominican Republic, confirming the important contribution of this initiative to strengthening disaster preparedness in the Caribbean region.