The Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake and damage to financial services infrastructures has created a liquidity crunch in the country, said Saul Wolf, remittance manager for IRnet, part of World Council of Credit Unions' for-profit subsidiary, WOCCU Services Group.
That includes remittance income, which accounts for nearly one-quarter of Haiti's gross domestic product, WOCCU said in the release.
"Remittance programs require an IT infrastructure, and any that were located in Port-au-Prince were probably destroyed," he said.
Remittance delivery organizations such as Fonkoze, a WOCCU partner in the Haiti project, have found ways around the problem, most likely using a back-up server located elsewhere and relying on intermittent Internet access, Wolf said.
Fonkoze is Haiti's largest microfinance organization and serves roughly 200,000 people, primarily in rural areas. With its building destroyed in the earthquake, Fonkoze was forced to set up operations in an open-air courtyard near the rubble of its headquarters.
WOCCU workers in Haiti are still working in "outdoor offices," but have found new permanent office space to replace their destroyed headquarters, and will move in within 30 days, said Greta Greathouse, WOCCU chief of party for the project.